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View Full Version : Leaning towards Kala KA-SSTU-T Solid Spruce Top Travel Tenor



snshami
04-14-2019, 04:12 PM
I'm leaning towards the KA-SSTU-T. The reasons may not be the most logical but my purchasing decisions rarely are.

Before I commit, I do plan on playing it and comparing it with other Kala Tenors (all laminates).

I may still change my mind but will probably not.

So my reasons for it being the frontrunner include, good reviews, a nice bag, the slim design that looks different, the solid top that hopefully makes a difference.

What makes me apprehensive is its thinness, the fact that I am already forming a bias and my inability to properly choose in the store environment.

This and the KA STG are the only solid top Kala tenors in my price range.
Has anyone compared this to the KA STG (solid spruce top but with a standard thickness).

Croaky Keith
04-14-2019, 10:40 PM
I have a Baton Rouge solid spruce concert thin line uke, & I find it a little tricky to hold, (it has a rounded back), something to consider.

(If you use straps, it won't matter.)

Jerryc41
04-15-2019, 01:29 AM
Someone in our group has that uke, and she often brings it to our session - very nice instrument.

AustinHing
04-15-2019, 01:37 AM
Tried both the travel spruce and normal spruce tenor. They are imo just about the same volume. Found the travel tenor easy to hold, my belly helps too.

snshami
04-15-2019, 02:43 AM
Tried both the travel spruce and normal spruce tenor. They are imo just about the same volume. Found the travel tenor easy to hold, my belly helps too.

Thanks. I find it amazing that they have the same volume. I wonder why that is.

snshami
04-15-2019, 02:44 AM
Someone in our group has that uke, and she often brings it to our session - very nice instrument.

Thanks. That helps.

snshami
04-15-2019, 02:45 AM
I have a Baton Rouge solid spruce concert thin line uke, & I find it a little tricky to hold, (it has a rounded back), something to consider.

(If you use straps, it won't matter.)

How does it sound?

AustinHing
04-15-2019, 05:07 AM
Thanks. I find it amazing that they have the same volume. I wonder why that is.

You are not alone on this. Imagine a normal uke with a curved arched back. Somebody need to make one.

Croaky Keith
04-15-2019, 06:03 AM
How does it sound?

It sounds good, quite loud enough for me, so I'm gentle when I play it. ;)
(And it has a MiSi pickup too.)

(Yes, it does sound nice, but I tend to prefer my later tenor scale acquisitions. :) )

Col50
04-15-2019, 10:29 AM
I played something similar a few weeks ago, the thin and rounded body did not sit well with me.

You mentioned that it comes with a case, that may be OK but a hard case will give so much better protection and humidity control than a soft case.

My Kala lives in its hard case and I have another hard case in transit for my solid body uke.

keenonuke
04-15-2019, 11:10 AM
I have the Soprano version. Initially, I actually had to humidify it. It has really opened up and I love it.

Bill Sheehan
04-15-2019, 12:59 PM
Dittos on the soprano version! The thinness of the body doesn't seem to hurt the volume at all !!

Choirguy
04-15-2019, 02:59 PM
I am not going to speak against the SSTU, as I own one. It was my third or fourth ukulele, following a Mahalo MK1 (not recommended), and Makala CE (recommended) and very close to my Kala Concert Banjolele. I bought both the SSTU and the Banjolele off the internet, long before I knew about set-ups. I had seen a SSTU at a Guitar Center (again, early in my ukulele days). At some point I noticed that my SSTU has a ding on the front of it, and I was going to sell it—and even listed it here for $100. It never sold, and I kept it, although it does not get played often at all.

I also ended up buying a used Kala Pocket Uke for $80 (great buy), which makes me think of the SSTU, so that’s another reason to keep it.

While I have seen some of the SSTUs with the cut-out and the spalted maple from time to time, mine is the Spruce version without the compass on it—and it has survived time without winter humidification (again, I was new to playing).

My SSTU is loud. No question about it. It’s a nice ukulele that did benefit from a setup, and I think it sounds better with fluorocarbon strings. That said, my best sounding ukulele is my KoAloha Opio Sapele Tenor. In comparison, there is a depth to the sound that is lacking, I feel, on the SSTU. That doesn’t mean the SSTU is bad...it is just doesn’t have all of the rich tonalities of other solid wood tenors.

And that’s probably what you give up—a very minor “give up” at that—for the skinny body.

Other than my sopraninos/sopranissimos and my rawhide (looks like it glows in the dark) Outdoor Ukulele, the SSTU does get the next amount of reaction from others when they see it.

“Why is that so skinny?”

The attached image is of my SSTU and my Spruce/Koa(?) Tenor Lanikai UkeSB. I’d eventually like to get both of these in the concert scale, too—but my next ukulele will be the Ortega Hydra.

117008

snshami
04-16-2019, 03:31 AM
I am not going to speak against the SSTU, as I own one. It was my third or fourth ukulele, following a Mahalo MK1 (not recommended), and Makala CE (recommended) and very close to my Kala Concert Banjolele. I bought both the SSTU and the Banjolele off the internet, long before I knew about set-ups. I had seen a SSTU at a Guitar Center (again, early in my ukulele days). At some point I noticed that my SSTU has a ding on the front of it, and I was going to sell it—and even listed it here for $100. It never sold, and I kept it, although it does not get played often at all.

I also ended up buying a used Kala Pocket Uke for $80 (great buy), which makes me think of the SSTU, so that’s another reason to keep it.

While I have seen some of the SSTUs with the cut-out and the spalted maple from time to time, mine is the Spruce version without the compass on it—and it has survived time without winter humidification (again, I was new to playing).

My SSTU is loud. No question about it. It’s a nice ukulele that did benefit from a setup, and I think it sounds better with fluorocarbon strings. That said, my best sounding ukulele is my KoAloha Opio Sapele Tenor. In comparison, there is a depth to the sound that is lacking, I feel, on the SSTU. That doesn’t mean the SSTU is bad...it is just doesn’t have all of the rich tonalities of other solid wood tenors.

And that’s probably what you give up—a very minor “give up” at that—for the skinny body.

Other than my sopraninos/sopranissimos and my rawhide (looks like it glows in the dark) Outdoor Ukulele, the SSTU does get the next amount of reaction from others when they see it.

“Why is that so skinny?”

The attached image is of my SSTU and my Spruce/Koa(?) Tenor Lanikai UkeSB. I’d eventually like to get both of these in the concert scale, too—but my next ukulele will be the Ortega Hydra.

117008
Thanks for the detailed answer. I'm going to be comparing it to two laminate Kalas, the Ebony and the Ziricote.

At the moment I'm finding going up to a tenor size is already giving me a greater depth and tonality range compared to the concert sized Aklot I have.

I suspect the Aklot is not the be all and end all of concert ukes so I'm already stepping up.

Your Koaloha is at least double the price of the SSTU so its out of my price bracket at the moment.

Let's see what I end up getting.

snshami
04-16-2019, 03:31 AM
Dittos on the soprano version! The thinness of the body doesn't seem to hurt the volume at all !!

What about its tonal range. Does the thinness affect its musicality?

YogiTom
04-16-2019, 04:01 AM
Having played both the Tenor and Concert versions of the Kala Travel, my vote is for the Concert. It is one of my go-to ukes for playing around; it is just so easy to grab and strum. Plenty of dynamic range, and for me a nicer feel in my hands. The Tenor felt too large for me to get comfortable holding for some reason.

As others have said, these ukes are loud. The spruce top really sings, especially when strung with fluorocarbon strings. Intonation on mine sounds great all over the neck, too, which I’m always happy to find in more affordable ukes.

The back on these is almost violin-like in shape, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone complain that the thinner, curved design size of a violin negatively affects its range or dynamics.

FWIW, I don’t understand what the OP is asking about when referring to the “tonal range”...smaller scales mean fewer tones or notes are available, and less sustain to each note, so Soprano will sound “brighter” or punchier than the more mellow sounding Tenor. This is also part of why I’d go for the Concert, best of both worlds without sacrificing too much range.

Edit: I’m realizing Tenor sounds like your desired size, so my recommendation for the Concert may not be helpful to you! If I had to pick between the SSTU or STG in Tenor size, I’d go with the standard thickness uke for comfort. YMMV, though, and it would help to play them in-hand to know which feels better for you.

Bill Sheehan
04-16-2019, 05:44 PM
What about its tonal range. Does the thinness affect its musicality?

Snshami, I wish I could give you an articulate answer on that, but I am deaf in one ear and have never been very good at pinpointing what "ranges" are brought out or emphasized by the build of a particular uke. However, I would offer that my soprano model has very good volume and seems to lean toward a "mid-range-y" tonality.