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Melanie
11-30-2011, 10:50 AM
Hey guys :) With the holidays coming up I've been thinking lots about getting a new uke. I've looked online and Kala's archtop jazz uke looks freakin awesome. I've read and watched a few reviews and it looks like the only complaint seems to be how quiet the instrument is when played acoustically. And guys, this would be my first electric uke, idk anything about what types of amps or whatever I should get for them. Also, almost every site I've found says they're waiting for a new load of the ukes from Kala. Most say they'll have them in like late December, but I've been watching these things and idk if it's just these ukes, but they go out of stock in like a week. Do you guys have any reliable sites you always go to? thanks :)

Uke on ;) :o

AncientMatingCalls
11-30-2011, 11:21 AM
I'm not sure but I think Hawaii Music Supply has that uke in stock.

I don't know that you want opinions on that uke, but I had one for a while and I was a bit disappointed with it. I was not impressed with the acoustic sound. Not only was it quiet, but the tone was quite muffled in my opinion. Unfortunately the plugged in sound wasn't good enough to keep it. For an active pickup I found it pretty flat as far as the tone went.

Plainsong
11-30-2011, 05:30 PM
Yeah, mine was let down by poor electronics (and a cracked and lifting bridge). I don't get it. This uke was never going to be an acoustic stunner, but they made it feel nice to play, so why not give it a chance with good electronics? No one makes these kind of ukes in anywhere near an affordable form. Why oh why...

With mine, it turned the saddle was too small and I somehow never noticed, because I wasn't playing it, because the electronics were so hard to power. When I did go to pick it back up, there was the bridge, cracked down the middle and lifting.

I guess I could have asked for a warranty claim, but I bought it a few years ago, internationally, and I never noticed the issue at the time. Live and learn.

I wish someone was making ukes like these with great pickups though.

kissing
12-01-2011, 12:29 AM
It's appeal is mainly in the "Jazz" theme. The looks.
There aren't a lot of other ukes that come with an arched top, sunburst finish and those classic jazz F-holes.

Acoustically, expectedly it is not a stunner. Semi-acoustic jazz guitars are not good acoustic instruments either.
But volume aside, it does have a mellow tone which is not unpleasant. But some would call it a bit "dead".

They are OK plugged in, but no better than any average acoustic-electric instrument.
It's just the standard, ordinary active pickup, just like any other Kala acoustic-electric line of instruments.

The heavy top with F-holes does make it a bit less prone to feedback (and you can distort it a bit more than a normal acoustic-electric), but other than that, it's not particularly special.

I used to have one..

Acoustically:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gZpT6I7MF0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gZpT6I7MF0

Electronically:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDEOs_hpqVg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDEOs_hpqVg



In the end, with mediocre acoustics and average electronics, you're buying it for the looks :)

Kimosabe
12-01-2011, 08:38 AM
I'm going to disagree. I own two. One for home and one for work. I also have a Kanilea tenor and assorted other ukes. I love my archtops. You can see me playing at kjorgensen100 on youtube. the neck is very fast and the sound depends on how you tweek your amp. I just use a vox amp. The amp is important. Acoustic is good for practicing, not for performing.
Go for it.

I bought two because I couldn't stand the idea of ever not having one.

Plainsong
12-01-2011, 09:30 AM
I love the way they feel to play too, but not even an acoustic preamp and amp could power that thing. Just lots of white noise and very little else. Yes it had a new battery. They got so close to making something lovely, which is why it's frustrating.

Kimosabe
12-01-2011, 09:45 AM
I have an LL Baggs preamp that I never use because I go straight from the uke to the amp. Of course a good battery is a must. Mine tend to last a year or so. I get great sound and use any effects I care to.

Plainsong
12-01-2011, 09:49 AM
Yeah, Energizer is an unknown in the battery business. ;) I did get a replacement PU from Kala, but it was then that we noticed the bridge and saddle. The saddle had a wicked tilt because it was too small for the bridge, so it was cracked and lifting. Had I noticed it from the start, the uke wouldn't be in this mess now.. which is why I feel it'd be unfair for me to make the warranty claim. No it wasn't my fault. No I didn't abuse it, but I should have noticed it sooner. Months is one thing. Years is another.

But back to my opinion on the archtops: They feel just lovely to play, and it'd be nice to see some higher quality electronics in there, because no one else is making ukes like this. The closest thing would be the Eleuke with the F-holes and sunburst. I used to have one, and if I'd have kept it, I'd cover up that cheesy logo on the headstock. :)

second edit: To fully clarify: I don't hold my experience with the bridge fail against all archtops. That was something I should have caught sooner, it happens. I do hold the poor electronics choice against it though, since that's its primary thing that it's supposed to do best.

Kimosabe
12-01-2011, 10:03 AM
Check out Ken Middleton's review which includes a video of him playing amped.

Paul December
12-01-2011, 11:28 AM
I have one (and my brother has one too) and I'm really happy with it.
After reading many reviews I expected it to be terribly quiet. Yes, it is quieter than regular acoustics, but not close to how much I imagined it would be. Also, I find the tone more "warm" than "muffled".

Melanie
12-01-2011, 02:51 PM
Thank you so much guys :) You've all given me plenty to think about.

kissing
12-01-2011, 03:48 PM
I'm going to disagree. I own two. One for home and one for work. I also have a Kanilea tenor and assorted other ukes. I love my archtops. You can see me playing at kjorgensen100 on youtube. the neck is very fast and the sound depends on how you tweek your amp. I just use a vox amp. The amp is important. Acoustic is good for practicing, not for performing.
Go for it.

I bought two because I couldn't stand the idea of ever not having one.

I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with :)

BlackBearUkes
12-01-2011, 03:49 PM
Here is the thing about Kala archtop ukes........they are not really archtop instruments in the true sense. They are built more like a flat top only the top is deformed and bubbled up. The one distinguishing feature that a true archtop has is a floating bridge will a tailpiece to support the strings. All the string pressure is downward thus activating the top. Normally a uke doesn't have enough of this downward force to produce the volume we are used to. There are some makers that have built good quality archtop ukes, but they are pricey, and so they should be because the tops and backs are carved, not steam bent plywoods.

The Kala archtop has the bridge glued directly to the top like any other uke, the only difference is that the top has an arch to it. The sound quality is going to suffer acoustically with this arrangement, hence the need for electronics.

13down
07-24-2013, 04:08 AM
Thanks for that explanation! Very helpful.