View Full Version : upgrade from my Kala TEM

08-05-2017, 05:20 AM
I've been thinking about upgrading from my Kala TEM, and see that I can get a Pono for less than $400.
Would there be that much difference in the playability and sound, since that would be at the bottom of the Pono line?
Any suggestions for other brands that would be higher quality without breaking the bank

08-05-2017, 02:58 PM
From what I can see, the Kala TEM is a laminate, and Ponos are all solid wood, so yes, there will be a difference in sound. The difference in playability will depend on whether the ukes have been properly set up or not, but I have a feeling that the difference between a cheap Pono and an expensive Pono will have more to do with looks and sound than with playability, so even a cheap Pono should feel good to play. As for other options, you are shopping in the price range that I tend to buy things in, so I might be able to provide a bit of insight.

Pono: Bomb proof. Totally reliable. Solid wood. Good sound and playability. Radius fretboard. You will want to try the radius fretboard to see if you like it. I don't own one because I've always been drawn to the other options, but they have a very good reputation.

Koa Pili Koko: These are made from acacia, not koa (solid). They have a deserved reputation for being heavy and overbuilt, but they sound pretty good, and are great value. I own one of these and like it a lot.

Mele: (http://meleukulele.com/) I love my Mele ukulele. It is still my favourite of all my ukuleles. Doesn't have the precise build quality of a Pono, but it is very pretty, sounds divine, and is incredibly easy to play. They have a bit of a reputation for cracking due to extreme changes in humidity, which I cannot confirm or deny because I have pretty constant humidity where I live.

Koaloha Opio: I don't own one of these because I bought a Mele instead. If I hadn't bought the Mele, I would have bought one of these though. Really beautiful sound.

S&J Crafts: These are hand-made by a man named Emil Bader and they are only available from the man himself or a shop in Hawaii called Global Creations. (https://www.globalcreationshaleiwa.com/) They will ship them, though. I recently bought one, and I love it for its looks and sound. The issues with it were that it required major adjustments to the action to make it playable, and that it doesn't have the build quality of something like a Pono (keep in mind that they are made by a guy in his shed with whatever wood is available). If you are comfortable doing a bit of setup yourself of you can get someone to do it for you, they are an exceptionally good buy though.

Good luck!

08-05-2017, 03:31 PM
By the way, there are a few ukes in the marketplace that might be what you are looking for. Not sure what size you want though.