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View Full Version : New Ukuleles Arrived: Kala Concert Waterman



Choirguy
03-25-2017, 08:48 AM
As soon as the new Kala Concert Waterman were announced, I placed an order for my school. We ordered six (three black, three green), and they arrived today. Thanks to Mike at Uke Republic for ordering and shipping these to us, as promised, as soon as they came in.

[Incidentally, FedEx to Post Office delivery is ridiculous. The package has been within a 30 minute drive since Sunday--now Saturday--but it gets delivered on the promised day, even so!]

Kala gave our program 40 Waterman Soprano ukuleles (turns out in discontiued colors, which isn't a problem until you need to replace one that goes 'missing.' We are incredibly grateful for these ukuleles), and it made sense to have some of these Concerts, too.

I have been fiddling with one of the Concerts today, and I may make a video this afternoon. I also own a current version of the Outdoor Ukulele Tenor, so I have something to compare it to.

The Concert does sound more plastic-ish than the Outdoor (not surprising), and styling seems to be exactly matched to its Soprano model. It seems to have the same painted frets and screened side dots, all which will fade over time. Action is good...no idea if Uke Republic had to work on them or not...and intonation is okay. Pitch seems to go sharp as I go up the fretboard, but the strings are not settled and it is hard to really get an idea of what intonation is really like.

The ukulele comes with a "sling bag" that will offer very minor protection. The bag has a smoothing inner lining that allows the ukulele to go in and out of the bag quite easily. The ukulele carries the traditional Waterman logo on the headstock, and has Kala pressed in the plastic on the back. Gone, however, is any mention of Makala. I seem to remember that our Waterman are labeled with "Makala."

The box itself sells itself as a starter package for ages 3 to 103 (If you hit 104, you have to give the ukulele back). But they are right...you have the instrument, a bag, and online resources such as lessons and a link to Kala's very decent tuner app. Sure, a clip on is better in a noisy environment...but Kala really does give you everything you need to get going for less than $60.

The strings are super Nylgut--but the tag in the box says, "Red Series." I'm not sure what to make of that, but I will be moving the ukuleles to our KIDS colored strings for instructional purposes (Ukulele Kids Club has started using those strings).

This is a ABS plastic go-anywhere Concert ukulele for what should be less than $60 for most vendors. This is a great price, and also a great price and option for schools for a rugged instrument. You can find the Bugsgear Concert for $60-$100, so this instrument, styled after the Macaferri, is at a desireable price. Remember that the new Ukadelic ukuleles are also now solid plastic Waterman ukuleles, as well (no more wood top, like a Makala Dolphin). Outdoor doesn't have a Concert ukulele, but you get a different sound from Outdoor for $100 for a Soprano and $150 for a Tenor. I know you can leave that Outdoor in your car, winter or summer (strings might take a beating)--not sure you should do that with a Waterman or Bugsgear. But if you aren't going to do that and would like an affordable larger-than-Soprano travel ukulele the new Concert Waterman is ultimately very replaceable and quite affordable.

http://i1249.photobucket.com/albums/hh514/CJRPhD/IMG_4203_zps16rr30jv.jpg

http://i1249.photobucket.com/albums/hh514/CJRPhD/IMG_4204_zpseugm7nze.jpg

http://i1249.photobucket.com/albums/hh514/CJRPhD/IMG_4205_zpsfh5nvn1k.jpg

http://i1249.photobucket.com/albums/hh514/CJRPhD/IMG_4206_zps1pqggolw.jpg

Choirguy
03-25-2017, 08:48 AM
http://i1249.photobucket.com/albums/hh514/CJRPhD/IMG_4208_zps2piemds3.jpg

http://i1249.photobucket.com/albums/hh514/CJRPhD/IMG_4209_zpsrdxezuw2.jpg

http://i1249.photobucket.com/albums/hh514/CJRPhD/IMG_4210_zpsvjbc7nrj.jpg

http://i1249.photobucket.com/albums/hh514/CJRPhD/IMG_4212_zpsdi5ax0d6.jpg

Choirguy
03-25-2017, 08:49 AM
http://i1249.photobucket.com/albums/hh514/CJRPhD/IMG_4214_zpsejbyg6gc.jpg

http://i1249.photobucket.com/albums/hh514/CJRPhD/IMG_4216_zpsovu35vfe.jpg

Croaky Keith
03-25-2017, 09:26 AM
Thanks for the pictures, & I look forward to hearing what they sound like. :)

M3Ukulele
03-25-2017, 09:47 AM
Nice review, great pictures and comparison with the outdoor and ukadelic. Can't wait to hear the sound sample. Thank for taking the time to do this. These user review are very helpful.

jollyboy
03-25-2017, 10:24 AM
Thanks for taking the time to do this review choirguy :) I was just thinking about acquiring a concert beater that could handle a bit of rain and sea air and now I'm wondering when these will show up here in the UK.

Choirguy
03-25-2017, 06:19 PM
Here's the video...I was having a hard time uploading it from my iPad, and the end result was uploading through Chrome, resulting in a diminished video quality. Sorry.

Incidentally, I purposely try to play the demo sounds used by Barry Maz at gotaukulele.com and Mim at Mim's Ukuleles. I figure if you are comparing ukuleles, hearing the same songs may help. That said, this was my first time playing through Barry's songs (without a lead sheet in particular), and it is a little rough. My apologies.

If you don't like hearing me talk about the ukuleles, skip ahead to the playing.


https://youtu.be/B5YJGRd0cik

ksiegel
03-25-2017, 06:44 PM
Nice looking ukes.

And, for what it is worth, I have left the Waterman and Bugsgear ukes in my car through a couple of New York Winters and summers - temps ranging from Below Zero to in excess of 110 in the car - and there have been no problems. Actually, I think the strings are the weakest part of the equation...



-Kurt

bikemech
03-25-2017, 06:48 PM
Nice review, Choirguy! I would have found it a bit intimidating to play the same review music as Barry and Mim but I know why you are doing it here and I applaud your effort.

By the looks of things in your room, that is a massive ukulele program you are running. That must be a challenging and fulfilling endeavor.

Maybe some day I'll end up with an all plastic ukulele but for now the most plastic uke I have is a Flea, and it's a good one.

Croaky Keith
03-25-2017, 10:21 PM
Great to have had the comparisons in your video, I think the new concert Waterman sound is good & has a fair bit of sustain too.
Thanks for making the recording & posting it.

zztush
03-25-2017, 11:15 PM
Thanks Chorguy for this nice review!

https://s28.postimg.org/68k6ibp8d/combine_images.png (https://postimg.org/image/ruz6zcnsp/)image upload (https://postimage.org/)

You look very cool with concert. :)

Stagehand
03-26-2017, 03:02 AM
Very nice review, Thank You.
Last month I bought an O.U. tenor and love it.
After your review I might have to explore the Waterman concert.

Choirguy
03-26-2017, 03:35 AM
Nice review, Choirguy! I would have found it a bit intimidating to play the same review music as Barry and Mim but I know why you are doing it here and I applaud your effort.

By the looks of things in your room, that is a massive ukulele program you are running. That must be a challenging and fulfilling endeavor.

Maybe some day I'll end up with an all plastic ukulele but for now the most plastic uke I have is a Flea, and it's a good one.

I'm hoping I don't offend Barry or Mim with the effort...in the playing or use of the chord progressions...but one of the many things I like about their reviews is that they use the same material, so you really can get an idea of what instruments sound like compared to each other. I watched Barry's video where he replaced stock Super Nylguts with fluorocarbon strings on a Makala Soprano Waterman, and the sound difference was astounding...it does make me wonder what the Concert would sound like with fluorocarbon...but that is a test I cannot make on these instruments as they are not mine.

As for the size of the program, I am working with 360 students (sometimes more) in the context of a choral setting. We meet every other day, and have two concerts a year, leaving a gap in the middle of the year, where we study sight-singing every day and then play ukuleles. I usually teach a chord, review a chord, and then we play songs with video using the reviewed chord and other chords we have learned (see Dr. Jill Reese's YouTube Channel). I focus on the ukulele as an accompaniment instrument (it IS choir), and reaction from students is mixed--which is really no different if we would do straight "choir" all year (music is required; if a student isn't in band or orchestra, they are in choir, whether they want to be or not). So...I would say "massive" and "challenging" are at least true. I will say that some kids come an incredibly long way over two months of every-other-day playing. I also tie the ukulele into the rest of the year...this year I am using it as the accompaniment for everything we do. I am not sure if I will continue that methodology (I try everything once), but the idea is that any student could conceivably take anything we have learned and play it and sing it by themselves. There really isn't any other type of music education that I know of that offers such a capacity (a band song requires a band--same with orchestra and choir; solo players often need a pianist). In my spare time, I have been converting classical literature to be sung with ukulele and sharing that work with others (see ukestuff.info). It falls along the lines of what Operalele is doing--but I didn't know they existed when I started doing this (and they aren't sharing source materials--they are performers).

As for the Flea...no reason for an all-plastic in your life. That Flea should be ideal in just about any situation that the Waterman would be used in--with the exception of immersion IN water. But really, how many people are actually going to do that, or do so on a regular basis.

bikemech
03-26-2017, 06:06 AM
Choirguy,

All of that work is even more impressive than I imagined. You must be a tireless individual, or running on the ragged edge. I will have to check out Jill Reese and ukestuff. I'd never heard of either of them or of Operalele. Thanks for all the info and for all the work you do.

jimavery
03-26-2017, 12:01 PM
Thanks choirguy. I'm glad to hear that Kala with the concert Waterman seem to have fixed much of what was wrong with the soprano. In particular the intonation seems much improved. I think that might be partly down to dispensing with the zero fret, which on the soprano was just too high knocking the intonation right off (that's what I reckon anyway).

I have to say that until I saw your review I was sceptical about the benefit of the new Aquila kid's strings (different colour each string), but hearing you talk about teaching multiple students at once it all makes a whole lot of sense now. Even in our local group I find myself saying things like "the string nearest your chin", which never seems quite satisfactory.

Choirguy
03-26-2017, 12:18 PM
I have the KIDS strings on all 6 ukuleles and they are hanging and labeled. I have to admit, the black concert looks great with the colored KIDS strings.

http://i1249.photobucket.com/albums/hh514/CJRPhD/IMG_4220_zpswfqeazb7.jpg

http://i1249.photobucket.com/albums/hh514/CJRPhD/IMG_4221_zpsbmgybll0.jpg

LarryS
03-27-2017, 11:04 AM
For cheap plastic ukes they seem good buys! Aren't the green ones luminous-glow I'm the dark?

Choirguy
03-27-2017, 11:11 AM
As far as I know, they are just green, not luminescent.