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View Full Version : Ohana TK-35 vs Kala ASMT



jenriquez
05-27-2010, 12:27 AM
Yes, I searched. Both UU and google. =]

And in the long, laborious, yet titillating process of finding a nice solid tenor, my heart's been set on two (well, three) respectable tenors. First is Ohana's TK-35 (non-gloss/non-cutaway) and second is Kala's ASMT. (Third would be Kala's Acacia Tenor, but my future apartment mate is already set in getting one.) Both received outstanding reviews. Upgrading from my Kala KA-C, I'm sure I will be more than happy with either one. I almost went straight for the TK-35, but neither MGM nor Elderly hold it in stock (as of writing, MGM has the TK-35CE but I don't want the electronics). With the onset UAS, my impatience forced me to research more, to find the Kala ASMT in MGM's stock.

With my school year ending in two weeks, I think I can stick it out and wait longer to research more. I want to see if by the end of three or so weeks, the TK-35 would show up in stock.

TL,DR: If the Ohana isn't in stock, should I just go for the Kala? Should I even wait for the Ohana? Is there another one I should consider? Should I even say "screw it" and consider the Kala's Acacia Tenor anyway/as well?

--John

P.S. Current budget: $250. Max: $350. Thanks guys. You've been awesome =)

luvdat
05-27-2010, 12:59 AM
If you had asked me in March I would have said one of the Kalas hands down, but things change rapidly in the world of factory ukuleles. Not a gear snob. I love factory ukes, BTW.

The Kala acacia: amazingly varied reviews. Read all of them. My ultimate conclusion: may require some intervention to pump up the volume. Also "the may vary from photos" thing taken to the max. For me a major turn off having ened up with a concert I returned, a stale lighter coffee wood that soundwise was a dud.
The ASMT: requires some intervention to tone down the boominess but manageable doable ( a better option IMO than the acacia).
The Ohana: notoriously high action out of the factory (esp. tenors) with some hit or miss fret issues (and higher frets).

Shocking response and non-vote or vote for "Other": look into Lanikai's. I'm not joking. The notion that Kalas are "so much better" than Lanikais I have come to learn is a lot of nonsense.

I picked up a Lanikai S-T yesterday, an amazingly tonally balanced spruce top tenor that I did research and try out and yes listen to sound samples. And the intonation is fine!!!

IMO spruce is a better consideration at the price points you mention. Why? Much harder to pull off a mahog at that pricepoint that's really balanced and the "poor man's koa" (acacia) has little in common tonally with koa, IMO (BTW not a koa worshipper but have played some great koa ukes, like Kamaka). I do not favor the Kala spruce top at this point but the Lanikais.

With spruce, yeah bright but more easily toned down with string choices because spruce is more responsive...thinking down the road here and not with a 2 week deadline (hey, I've been there...and know that feeling).

I also, BTW, know that feeling of having to buy a particular brand or from a limited set of hyped brands. Speaking for myself, it verges on delusion.

If you had asked about the now discontinued cedar top Kala I would have said go for it.

jenriquez
05-27-2010, 02:10 AM
I also, BTW, know that feeling of having to buy a particular brand or from a limited set of hyped brands. Speaking for myself, it verges on delusion.

I haven't heard truer words. Maybe I am buying into the hype. I really should have put "Other" in the poll.


IMO spruce is a better consideration at the price points you mention. Why? Much harder to pull off a mahog at that pricepoint that's really balanced and the "poor man's koa" (acacia) has little in common tonally with koa...

I did consider spruce for a while. But what I want most is the warmth that I get from mahogany. Because I don't have a place to try out any ukes, I'm forced to hear sound samples (and order) online. For what I want to hear from a uke, I do want mahogany. I'm not even sure acacia would have been on my list (as from what I understand, it's brighter) but the Kala Acacia was so well received. As far as sound goes, please correct me for anything above. I just wish I had a way to see how much you can tone down a spruce. Thanks, though.

luvdat
05-27-2010, 04:24 AM
I really wish you had the chance to try out a Lanikai spruce. Don't go by over the top (like Kala thinlines, which can be great for some stuff) or even the regular tenors which seem a little chambery.

In music there's something that's called "warm treble." This gets applied to smoothe vintage sounding Telecasters. For me that's what I get with the Lanikai even with the Aquilas settling in...it has that potential. Words like "deep" get applied to the spruce top Kalas, but for me...again a little chambery. There are quite a few tenor string choices available...

Mahogs, yeah I love them too. Nothing beats their tonefulness. BUT how well is a particular mahog tenor realized at a particular pricepoint?

Of the 3 mentioned I did say I preferred the mahog Kala tenot just check out the mahog in the Lanikai option. If it's as smoothe and non-chambery as the Lanikai spruce I would opt for a mahog Lanikai. BTW, I think at a lower price point a solid mahog top with lam sides can be a great option and sometimes better, with fewer amplification issues.

Ser-T-Fide
05-27-2010, 05:17 AM
Heard a lot of hype when the Acacia came out, everyone was eye blinded by the slotted headstock (JMO). It did not live up to expectations. Seems like everyone has them on a "Blowout sale" these days. I can't speak for the other Kala's, but a friend bought the Ohana TK-35G and has been really happy. I play around with it from time to time and for the price, it's excellent value. Yes the action is definately to high off the shelf, but can easily be fixed. I have an SK-35G and am very happy with it. Go look up Ken Middleton's reviews on Youtube, he's very reputable.

luvdat
05-27-2010, 08:32 AM
I myself am now leaning toward recommneding the Ohana...the Kala even by its lovers is a known woofy tenor...

mds725
05-27-2010, 10:04 AM
I haven't played all three of the ukuleles you're considering, but I do have a Kala acacia tenor, a Kala solid mahogany concert and an Ohana solid mahotgany baritone. I like them all. I've had none of the issues some people have complained about with their acacia tenors (some rumors of bridge or saddle problems, if I recall), and my acacia tenor (bought from MGM, with MGM's upgraded Aquillas), which was somewhat quiet at first, has begun to "open up" and has a nice bright and clear sound to it. My Kala mahogany concert (bought locally, with Aquillas) has that more muted mahogany sound ("woofy" is a nice way to describe it) but I like that as a contrast to the brighter sound of the acacia tenor. My own experience may be a little unfair to Ohana, as I play my baritone "situationally," and because it has baritone tuning (wound Aquillas for the D and G strings) it's hard to compare its sound to the sound of the other two. The sound (volume, tone, crispness) on it is great, though. (Note: I bought it from a UUer, who had bought it from Mike at Uke Republic, and the UUer who sold it to me said he'd lowered the action a bit after receiving it). I've gathered from reading lots of reviews here and elsewhere, as well as lots of threads about strings, that there is no one "right" or "perfect" ukulele sound, and that ultimately anyone looking for a ukulele should buy what sounds best to him or her. I can only tell you that each of the three ukuleles I've mentioned seems solidly built, feels great, plays nicely, and seems well-balanced.

sasasa1
05-29-2010, 12:04 PM
I have the Kala Acacia Tenor and absolutely loving it, especially these days since it's "opened up".
I am awaiting the new Lanikai solid monkeypods and zebrawoods, which are supposed to come out first week of June. Maybe stick around and see if you like those too?

luvdat
05-29-2010, 05:02 PM
I have the Kala Acacia Tenor and absolutely loving it, especially these days since it's "opened up".
I am awaiting the new Lanikai solid monkeypods and zebrawoods, which are supposed to come out first week of June. Maybe stick around and see if you like those too?

I had FOOLISHLY dismissed Lanikai before as an option without even really trying many of them out. I now have a Lanikai S-T I wish I had picked up even earlier...

13jparker
05-29-2010, 05:17 PM
I recently tried a Cordoba solid koa tenor at my local Guitar Center and thought it was really nice.

http://www.amazon.com/Cordoba-25TK-Tenor-Ukulele/dp/B001RTTCQ6

You might want to try to find it somewhere else, but I'd definitely give it a shot with the rest.

HoldinCoffee
05-29-2010, 10:37 PM
I think the Lanikai Solid Mahogany Tenor can be a great uke. The tuners are great, and the fretboard is ebony. They're comparble to Pono's solid mahogany PTO. Great uke!