View Full Version : Newbie A/Bs a Kala SLNG and Flea concert

02-27-2017, 03:05 PM
So both arrived in the mail today, and I knew I'd be returning one of them, may the best uke win. I had really wanted to like the Flea better, for the oh-so-shallow coolness factor: got the "Surf" edition with cool Hawaiinish top, and I just love the idea of not needing to be finicky with the plastic back and fretboard. BUT....

The Kala is just so superior. The difference in sound is really something, and I don't think it's just cuz the Kala is a soprano and Flea concert. The resonance and clean harplike tone are just awesome, whereas the Flea sounds, well, like plastic. And, I don't think this is standard: the action on the Flea at 12th fret seems really high, I can't find my good steel ruler, but bad ruler says it's a good 5mm when it should be 3.

I think the Flea will be on its way home soon, the Kala a keeper (Mim was great to deal with, and the case I got really nice, far better than the cheapo bundled case the Flea came in.

I play guitar mostly, but recently turned on to uke, and have a Gretsch 9120 on its way (bought here) which should round out my stable of 2! For now.....I know well about GAS, now we'll see if I get UAS as well!

Jim Hanks
02-27-2017, 04:20 PM
You've bought three ukes already. I hate to tell you, but UAS has already taken hold, my friend. :p

That is unusual about the action on the Flea. It is usually reported to have a lower-than-most action. If it's really twice as high as the Kala, then absolutely it needs to go back as something is not right. If it was just the sound, I'd recommend trying different strings before giving up on it, but I agree that action is unacceptable.

My SLNG from Mim was still the best $100-ish uke I've played. Ultimately it was not a keeper for me as I liked the slightly longer scale on the KPK longneck (15.5" - same as concert Flea incidentally) better.

02-27-2017, 04:53 PM
Another interesting A/B is the Kala SLNG with the SSLNG (solid spruce top longneck). Mim did one at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YToJZJpa8-c and she could barely hear the difference (and I'm not sure I could even barely hear it). I tried an SSLNG in a store the other day, and my SLNG sounds better -- although I have Fremont strings on it, which I find help a laminate.

I also am surprised to hear of high action on the Flea. As Jim says, let them know of it. Their customer service is outstanding. And of course they pay their workers much more, as they're in the U.S., which helps to reverse-explain the Kala's low(er) price.

02-27-2017, 04:55 PM
We have the Flea surf soprano, which we just purchased about two weeks ago. I don't think I've played the SLNG but I have played other similar Kalas. As a point of reference, we also have a all solid Koa Martin C1k.

Warning: Opinions and esoteric, incomprehensible descriptions follow -

Sound? Martin- Loud, clear, resonant, bright, very good string separation, great for finger-picking.
Kala- Not as loud as the Martin but good volume nonetheless, more compressed (store samples only, based on first perception), good for strumming and ok for fingerpicking.
Flea- Much quieter than the other two, warmer, more compressed. I think, because of that compression, it has an almost guitar-like quality when strummed. The chords sound more whole somehow, as if there is no space between the notes of the chord that need to be filled. I really don't know how else to explain it. I don't think it is as good an instrument for finger-picking. It definitely does not sound like plastic to me.

02-27-2017, 05:12 PM
The Flea has D'Addarios on it. ....I'm thinking there are better strings for it I'm sure. I'm pretty clear I'll just return it, and the Kala will do (along with Gretsch 9120 on its way). Part of the appeal of the flea was thinking with that plastic back, it travels well (outdoors etc), but the case Mim sent with the Kala is really good

I play acoustic guitar and I've become quite a tone fiend (Froggy Bottom H12 my main guit). The sound of the Kala is really really sweet. Plastic is not wood!

Glad to join this group and I think as of tonight I have nearly gotten the true strum for, of course.....Somewhere Over, What a kick. I think my guitar might be neglected a bit : )

One Man And His Uke
02-28-2017, 07:34 AM
I've had a Flea concert for over a year now. I love it. Stays in tune. Light n loudish. True it's not wood but that doesn't bother me too much, I like ovations too :)

02-28-2017, 07:48 AM
Yeah, mine might have just been off. The action was really high (over 5mm at 12th fret) so Ill be returning it. May still get one in the future, but for now the Kala is really great and will keep me busy

Croaky Keith
02-28-2017, 07:55 AM
The Kala KA-SLNG is a great little uke - my most used uke of last year, (& I have a few). ;)

02-28-2017, 05:43 PM
You've bought three ukes already. I hate to tell you, but UAS has already taken hold, my friend. :p