View Full Version : Review: Kala ASMT mahogany tenor

05-10-2009, 10:03 AM

This is Kala's all solid mahogany tenor ukulele. Mine is the basic version - no cutaway and no pickup.

This uke usually comes in a pod style rigid foam case, but I opted to upgrade to a tweed hardshell case.

I bought from Risa at www.ukulele.de. As far as I can tell, no setup had been done. The uke had black GHS strings and the action was pretty high. I'm not a fan of GHS strings, so I changed them for the low G Aquilas that I ordered from Rigk at the same time I ordered the uke. I also took a spare bridge saddle (I keep a stock of them and of nut blanks) and sanded it to about half the height of the original. The action now is low and smooth and the uke plays beautifully.

The neck on this tenor seems fairly narrow, which suits me: as a mandolin player I am used to slim fretboards. I was very pleased to see that the G and A strings are not as close to the edge of the fretboard as they are on many ukuleles I've tried. The nut slots are generously cut so even though the Aquila strings I fitted are heavier than the GHS, there is plenty of room in the slots and no sign of binding or sticking.

The tuners are the sealed gear type. On mandolins I was never too keen on these, prefering open gear ones. On the Kala, however, they are an absolute joy. Smooth, precise and plenty of tactile feedback. This Kala tenor tunes quickly and accurately. It certainly tunes more smoothly and accurately than any of my other ukes. The tuner buttons are coloured so they pretty nearly match the mahogany of the body and neck.

Fit and finish look pretty neat. The inside is clean and tidy with the bracing smooth, and neatly shaped and finished. Bracing is standard lateral, with a cruciform section under the bridge. The outside of the body is a kind of semi-matt. Presumably this reduces finishing costs a little. It is, IMO an attractive finish. The faux tortoise binding is a nice touch. A bit different.

I find the neck very comfortable, and now it has been adjusted the action is perfect. This is a very, very nice playing ukulele. The volume is very respectable and the tone is resonant and rich. Very nice indeed. With the GHS high G strings the tone was thinner, but well balanced. With the Aquilas the tone is robust and projects nicely. I do, however, find the wound low G is a little "boomy" and overpowering, so I plan to experiment with alternative G strings.

Intonation is absolutely perfect on every string, on every fret - all the way to the 12th. I had heard that intonation on these was good, but I didn't expect it to be that good. I'm impressed.

I have fitted an internal mic pickup. One of those shown in the attached pic. It's a Washburn ROMP I got from Janet Davis Music. I love these little pickups and I've used them on several mandolins. The ROMP is actually a mini condenser mic mounted straight onto an endpin jack. it takes a couple of small watch-type batteries that last for ages.

With the pickup plugged through my Fishman ProEQ II preamp, I can take out the boominess from the wound Aquila G, and the uke sounds fantastic through my Marshall AS50 D acoustic amp.

In conclusion: I am absolutely delighted with the Kala ASMT. I'll give it a proper test run at our weekly pub gig, but there's really very little left to test! This is going to be a great gigging ukulele. For a modestly priced instrument I have no complaints at all. I would certainly buy another Kala instrument, and if all are built as soundly as this one I would have no hesitation in recommending to others.

Risa/ukulele.de are communicative and helpful.

I am a happy bunny. :) :shaka:

05-10-2009, 10:10 AM
I'll also do a video when I get a few minutes.

05-10-2009, 10:14 AM
Nice rewiew, sounds like a great Uke.
And it looks great too

05-10-2009, 03:20 PM
buddhu, would you mind submitting your review here (http://ukuleleunderground.com/ukereviews/)? It's UU's Ukulele Review page and located on the UU main page.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
05-10-2009, 03:35 PM
I'm curious about that ROMP mic. Do you experience feedback issues that I've read about or is that just with guitars?

05-10-2009, 10:24 PM
buddhu, would you mind submitting your review here (http://ukuleleunderground.com/ukereviews/)? It's UU's Ukulele Review page and located on the UU main page.

Yup. Be happy to.

The model isn't listed, so I emailed the UU Gmail address with a request to add it. When it's added I'll put the review there. :)

05-10-2009, 10:40 PM
I'm curious about that ROMP mic. Do you experience feedback issues that I've read about or is that just with guitars?

Well, yeh, Chuck - there is a bit more feedback than with an undersaddle piezo, but I don't find it a problem. My Marshall has great anti-feedback measures in the form of a phase switch and a notch filter. My Fishman preamp also has a phase switch to cut feedback. If things are really difficult I use a soundhole plug. So far that combination has fixed feedback every single time.

If the worst came to the worst I have a 7-band EQ which I could put in the chain to further cut the problem frequencies.

But all that said, although the ROMP is a bit more feedback susceptible than a piezo, I find the sound I get is well worth a couple of minutes spent tweaking a few settings to eliminate the feedback. It's never caused me a problem.

My other preferred method of amplification is a full size condenser mic pointing at the instrument. That gives me as much or more of a feedback issue, but once again I find the sound quality of mic over piezo makes it all worthwhile! :) :rock: And, once again, the feedback suppression features on the amp and preamp seem to take it all in their stride.

Of course, what works in my gig environments, with my band and my gear, may not work for everyone's situation so, as you might expect, YMMV.

For the price I certainly think the ROMP is worth experimenting with.

05-10-2009, 11:08 PM
great review sir

05-11-2009, 12:03 AM
Thank you. :)

05-11-2009, 11:34 PM
OK, I think I added a version of the review in the Reviews section.

It's not showing up in the database, so either it has to be approved by a mod before it appears... or I broke something :D

05-16-2009, 03:10 PM
It's there now. :D

05-16-2009, 08:28 PM
Thanks man, I didn't know that little pick-up existed!
Thanks also for the review, I need a tenor!