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Chewbacca
12-13-2018, 10:16 AM
I'm looking to buy my first ukulele, and I've been thinking about a Kala KA-C, or KA-S. I'm looking for a laminate (less humidity worries) instrument with decent tuners.

I found that a local shop stocked them so I went by and gave them a try.

I checked to frets to see if there was sprout, checked that the neck was strait, tuned them, strummed a few cords, and checked the intonation. This is what I would do with a guitar.

The guy working at the store said, "Wow, I've never seen anyone check the intonation on a ukulele. You must be picky." BTW, he was actually very helpful.

Am I being too picky? What should I reasonably expect from a ukulele? Particularly, one at this price point?

Incidentally, the KA-C had fret sprout, the neck was a little crooked, and it (and the KA-S) I tried were quite sharp at the 12th fret.

Thanks,
Patrick

merlin666
12-13-2018, 11:53 AM
You can never be too picky, and it's good that you have some knowledge to look for the basics. Kala is the biggest uke producer and pretty much every store has many of them to chose from. I don't find their entry and midrange models very remarkable or of particular great value, they pretty much represent the average what is to be expected due to the large numbers produced.

robinboyd
12-13-2018, 12:03 PM
You are not being picky. You are being sensible!

Ukecaster
12-13-2018, 01:21 PM
An informed consumer is never wrong. Good for you! Don't settle until you find what you want.

Rllink
12-13-2018, 01:50 PM
Well, considering my $65 Makala is spot on, expecting and checking intonation is not over the top.

Lacole
12-14-2018, 06:37 AM
I'm looking to buy my first ukulele, and I've been thinking about a Kala KA-C, or KA-S. I'm looking for a laminate (less humidity worries) instrument with decent tuners.

I found that a local shop stocked them so I went by and gave them a try.

I checked to frets to see if there was sprout, checked that the neck was strait, tuned them, strummed a few cords, and checked the intonation. This is what I would do with a guitar.

The guy working at the store said, "Wow, I've never seen anyone check the intonation on a ukulele. You must be picky." BTW, he was actually very helpful.

Am I being too picky? What should I reasonably expect from a ukulele? Particularly, one at this price point?

Incidentally, the KA-C had fret sprout, the neck was a little crooked, and it (and the KA-S) I tried were quite sharp at the 12th fret.

Thanks,
Patrick

. What is fret sprout?

Swamp Yankee
12-14-2018, 07:02 AM
. What is fret sprout?

Fret sprout (at least in my book) is when the sharp ends of the frets protrude from the edges of the fretboard. It can be caused by the wood of the neck and fretboard drying out and shrinking away from the frets which, being metal, do not shrink with dry conditions. Poorly finished ukes will often have sharp ends because they weren't dressed properly or sufficiently...add a little neck drying and you have bloody fingers :/

OP - poor intonation is definitely a deal breaker for me. Some of it can sometimes be remedied with proper setup....but sometimes all the setup in the world won't make the uke sing true. As others have pointed out, even inexpensive ukes can have proper intonation so, there's really no need to "settle" for anything that doesn't.

Brad Bordessa
12-18-2018, 04:50 PM
Terrible intonation is a problem. ...but perfect intonation pretty much doesn't exist on an 'ukulele. If you bring a strobe tuner and check all the ukes at the store, expecting them to be as bang-on as an electric guitar, you probably will never buy one.

For most casual players, fretting technique is going to push the strings out of tune more than intonation will (one player could "make" the intonation flat upon testing and another could make it sharp). String type will also change the intonation. If the instrument is set up for Aquilas and you go home and switch to Worth will the intonation be better or worse? It's a crap shoot. Do keep in mind that fluorocarbon strings tend to intonate better. So there's a chance that the stock strings aren't giving the best impression (I think Kala still uses Aquila from the factory?).

I'd avoid ukes that have obviously bad intonation (obvious to the ear - and your fretting technique). But definitely don't hold out for fine-tuned perfection.

merlin666
12-19-2018, 03:57 AM
For most casual players, fretting technique is going to push the strings out of tune more than intonation will (one player could "make" the intonation flat upon testing and another could make it sharp). String type will also change the intonation.
Amen to that, I have a terrible tendency to play certain notes sharp as I move from one instrument to another that require different grip strengths and have different scales and neck sizes. It takes a lot of effort to play all notes "clean".

plunker
12-19-2018, 04:04 AM
Did you decide what size to buy? Oscar Schmidt makes to decent instruments, did you try some of them?

13down
12-21-2018, 07:12 AM
Not being too picky unless the norm you're being compared to is someone who isn't enough of a musician to know what intonation is (which is most people who buy instruments). Regarding your expectations, just keep checking them in-store until you find one that meets your standards.

Chewbacca
12-24-2018, 07:10 AM
So I did the exact thing I shouldn't have done. I bought one from Amazon. I ended up buying a Ranch Guitar concert ukulele.

I went to a few local shops to try ukulele's. They all had Kala KA-* and Makala shark and dolphin series. The shops didn't do set-up and quality was hit or miss (I've learned what you often pay extra for is QC, at the factory, distributor, or seller.) So I didn't see a lot of value in buying form a local shop.

I was going to buy one from Mim's Ukes, UKE Republic, or Elderly. However, I was running out of time.

Then my girlfriend chimed in and told me for now I just need one good enough to get started playing with my daughter, and if I took to it I would end up buying a better one.

So I ended up buying the Ranch Guitar concert ukulele because it had good reviews, they explicitly said they made sure the frets were dressed, it came with a bag, the price was right, and it would get here before Christmas. I chose the concert size over a tenor because it was smaller and less expensive, but still felt more comfortable for me to hold than a soprano.

It arrived at the end of last week. The frets weren't sharp on the edges. It was as well intonated as the Kala KA series ones I tried, and the neck looked strait. At this point the only real drawback I see is the bridge is rough (but some filler and sand paper can fix that.) Time will only tell how well it plays and stand up.

Thanks everyone for your help. Now to unwrap it on Christmas day and start learning with my daughter.

Cheers,
Patrick

P.S. , the link for the one I bought is http://a.co/d/6JI4Opr