PDA

View Full Version : Opinions on a couple of concert uke brands



guitarsnrotts
03-31-2011, 03:15 AM
I've decided that my next ukulele is going to be a solid acacia concert uke.
I'm leaning towards the Kala that comes in just under $300 but thought I'd get some opinions on a couple of cheaper and not so famous ukes. eBay has listing for a Koa PILI Koko, a Cordoba 25CK and a number of ukes from 'taisamlu' in Taiwan. All around $100 or so less than the Kala KA-ASACC. All good or bad feedback would be appreciated.

mendel
03-31-2011, 03:21 AM
If I recall correctly, the Taiwan Ukes on eBay are made to look visually stunning, but I have not heard anything good about the way they play. In fact, someone here said that they decided the one they purchased would be a wall hanger as art as opposed to an instrument that would be played because it sounded so bad... Ive been curious about the Koa PILI Koko as well. Ive not seen any reviews on them here. Youcan try the Uke Board Reviews. Good luck!

fitncrafty
03-31-2011, 03:24 AM
I know kala is reputable.. for sure.. I know of two members (I am sure there are more) have the koa Pili Koko and are very happy with it, I hope they will pop up and see this thread...
Good luck, in whatever you decide~

ksiegel
03-31-2011, 03:45 AM
I was attracted to the Cordoba 25CK before buying my first uke - tried a couple at the local guitar center, and here is the problem: Two ukuleles, labeled with the same model number, where totally different instruments. Different necks, head stocks, bridges, sound.. even the location of the serial number. But the labels inside were identical.

They each had intonation problems, although they were not the same, and each had quality issues with the final product (glue spots, finish issues, binding gaps...)

Mind you, the tone was exceptional on each of them, although different.

I ended up ordering a mahogany model (20TM) from a local shop, paid $150, and am happy. Great intonation, lovely tone, good feel when I play.

That being said, my Kala is a koa body/side cedar top tenor, and I love it. One minor blemish on the top, and it rubbed out with a microfiber cloth. Got it through MusicGuyMic, and I'm very satisfied. The concert sized version was around $320 delivered, including Uke Crazy lightweight hard case, the last time I looked at this instrument on MGM's eBay page.

Good luck!

-Kurt

roxhum
03-31-2011, 04:49 AM
I am reluctant to pop up but... I don't know anything about the Cordoba or the Kala. The Kala from what I read is probably the safest choice. Mixed reviews on the KPK. I want to love my KPK. I love what it looks like. I love the sound when I slowly and carefully strum or pick but when I strum fast and hard it has a dull sound. The dealer of the KPK's is lovely to work with. Good luck.

pepamahina
03-31-2011, 05:03 AM
I have the Kala acacia concert and I love it, but I had some trouble initially, you can see the conversation about it here:
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?39807-My-new-300-ukulele-has-a-quot-buzz-quot-.
As you can see, Kala has first rate service. I would still recommend this instrument, but make sure you get it from a retailer that will make sure it is set up well. If you're buying online, people really seem to get well set up instruments from musicguymic:
http://cgi.ebay.com/SOLID-ACACIA-KALA-CONCERT-Ukulele-w-case-tuner-ka-asac-/330547621019?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4cf62c6c9b
I hope that helps!

808boy
03-31-2011, 05:52 AM
I have 2 KPKs, a deluxe tenor and a standard concert. Although they both needed tweeking as far as action, I like them both. They both sound good to me but then again due to my career as a retired diesel truck technician, I suffered some hearing lost, especially high pitch sounds. Anyway, I'm happy with my KPKs. To me, the KPKs are worth the price..................BO............

bbycrts
03-31-2011, 06:22 AM
I think the trend you can see here is that buying from a dealer who checks the instruments out and sets them up carefully is really important. Kala are widely available, well-made, and sold by several dealers here who do setups and quality checks (MGM, Mim, Uke Republic come to mind...). If you can't pick it up in person then you are VERY well-served to go through one of these guys - they're honest, they care about their product, and they really care about their customers.

I haven't really seen Cordobas in shops like that. I've played a couple at the local Best Buy (with a music store inside) and I can say that one was really very very nice - the other was dull and ho-hum. I wouldn't buy one sight-unseen from an impersonal source...

OldePhart
03-31-2011, 06:41 AM
My first choice from those would be the Kala. (I have a Kala solid acacia pocket uke, BTW.) However, if you don't have the tools, patience, and knowledge to do a setup then I would +1 the comments from others about buying any of these brands from knowledgeable uke dealers (not big box stores) who know their product and will take care of you. My pocket uke purchased in the Sam Ash store in Manhattan was very high at both the nut and bridge. Once I took the nut files to it and adjusted the bridge saddle it became a nice little uke.

I would avoid the Cordoba only because I have seen dozens of "damaged in shipping" Cordoba 25C models sold by an eBay outfit. On almost all of them the bridge has pulled off. That many "damaged in shipping" instruments of one make and model is a real red flag to me.

I've heard nice things about the KPK but haven't handled one myself.

John

pulelehua
03-31-2011, 09:42 AM
I have the Kala. It was my first ukulele. I'm a music teacher, and have played guitar for about 20 years, so my expectations are high-ish.

The Kala has a nice tone, but it's a bit muffled. It has a small soundhole, and I think the top is a bit on the thick side. If you want ukey boxiness, it's good (though decidedly different from mahogany boxiness). If you want clear ringing trebles, not so much. Intonation is good, but not perfect. It's certainly very good down at the bottom of the neck, but if you want to go over the 10th fret or so, it gets shakier. Not bad, just not perfect.

I replaced the bridge with Tusq, and really wedged it in. Kala bridges (it seems to be agreed) can be a bit loose. This reduces the energy transfer from string to top, which is where most of your volume comes from. So, the Tusq gave a bit more brightness, a bit more sustain, a bit more volume. Not huge amounts, but for me, it kept me happy for a couple months more.

It's a bit heavy as ukuleles go. Not heavy, but heavy for a ukulele.

My main complaint was an uneven fretboard edge, particularly on the A side. That resulted in me pulling the A string off the board every once in a while, which was really irritating, as there isn't much you can do, other than recut a nut, which I didn't want to do.

After a year of loyal service, I got a custom MP ukulele, and have hardly touched my Kala. All that said, I have very fond memories of that ukulele. It sounded as good as any of the ukuleles my students brought in, from other Kalas, to Lakas, to Lanikais, to Brunswicks to Makalas (amid a range of genuinely cheap ukes). The only one I think is close is a spalted maple, spruce topped Kala soprano. That has serious brightness. Nice tone.

If you have any other questions, just let me know. I got mine from MGM, btw.

LoMa
03-31-2011, 09:53 AM
Cordoba's tend to be quiet ukes and don;t seem very responsive.
Kala's are a bit on the mellow side, and some are more responsive than others, but they are certainly more responsive than Cordoba's.
The KPK's seem on the brighter side of the tonal spectrum, and seem nicely responsive.

I'd say you'e safe with either Kala or KPK, but I'd give the Cordoba a skip unless that's the kind of tone you're looking for.

Pippin
03-31-2011, 10:01 AM
May look nice on the wall, but that is the extent of it.

As for the Cordoba... not the best performers. The KPK ukes are not bad. There were some early issues with cracking, but I don't know what age the uke in question is and a lot of people love their KPK ukes.

haolejohn
03-31-2011, 10:43 AM
If you are in the market for a kala solid acacia concert then you are in the same price range as www.meleukulele.com and www.mainlandukes.com if you want to go with a dealer that offers more choices check out www.ukerepublic.com or www.mimsukes.com or MGM on ebay (mim is on ebay as well).

OldePhart
03-31-2011, 12:00 PM
If you are in the market for a kala solid acacia concert then you are in the same price range as www.meleukulele.com and www.mainlandukes.com if you want to go with a dealer that offers more choices check out www.ukerepublic.com or www.mimsukes.com or MGM on ebay (mim is on ebay as well).

Yah, I would have recommended Mainland too (I have three, now, so it's not an empty recommendation) but AIR the OP explicitly said he was only interested in acacia ukes. The only thing from Mainland that might qualify is the mango (I have a mango tenor and I think it's closer to Koa in tone than my acacia uke) and I think Mike has been out of stock in all sizes of mangos for a while now.

John

fabioponta
03-31-2011, 12:27 PM
If you like the happy koa sound, go for KPK concert. Great and sheap solid uke. If you like a warm mahogany sound, go for a Hamano concert. Great uke too.

PhilUSAFRet
03-31-2011, 12:43 PM
I have been reseaching KPK ukes and want a concert. There are several happy owners on UU. Seems like problems worse a year or two ago. I just ran across this YouTube Video comparing them to two other high end ukes. Last time I inquired, Seller will accept offers, supposedly does setup, will change strings, install corian nut/saddle. Still contemplating getting one. I live in FL so I'm not as worried about cracking as folks in dry climates.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Qfs1cPaZjI&feature=related

haolejohn
03-31-2011, 01:42 PM
Yah, I would have recommended Mainland too (I have three, now, so it's not an empty recommendation) but AIR the OP explicitly said he was only interested in acacia ukes. The only thing from Mainland that might qualify is the mango (I have a mango tenor and I think it's closer to Koa in tone than my acacia uke) and I think Mike has been out of stock in all sizes of mangos for a while now.

John

John, he didn't say he was ONLY interested in acacia:) But he did list all acacia models. I just like to offer other options and i don't really read all posts completely (dumb i know).

so if it is only acacia, then I would personally go with one of the kalas. I have played the KPKs and i wasn't overly impressed. I wasn't disappointed either though. I really like the Kala ones though and kala is making some pretty good ukes at the moment.

mangorockfish
03-31-2011, 01:56 PM
Get yourself a Mainland and be done with it. Mainlands Rule!!

guitarsnrotts
03-31-2011, 04:49 PM
Thanks for all the input. It's helped me to narrow my choices. At this point I am just considering the acacia models. I just bought a Mainland Red Cedar/Rosewood pineapple soprano from Mike at Ukerepublic. Great service and a great uke. Would not hesitate to buy a Mainland acacia if they made one. I also have a spalted mango tenor from Lanikai which is also a nice uke with a unique look and sound. I also have a recent Martin S-O and recently lucked upon a mid-70s Kamaka soprano I got for a steal.
So the acacia concert will kind of round out my collection. Each one of the ukes I have has their own unique sound and I enjoy playing different songs on the different instruments. Guess that's why I also have 11 guitars.

OldePhart
03-31-2011, 04:49 PM
John, he didn't say he was ONLY interested in acacia:)

He didn't???


I've decided that my next ukulele is going to be a solid acacia concert uke.

Let me parse this out..."I've decided (hmmm, past tense, already set on it) ... is going to be (seems pretty definite)...a solid acacia concert uke." (pretty succinct description)

I think I'll stand by my original statement. :biglaugh:

John