View Full Version : Islander MST-4..or...Kala All Solid Acacia Tenor ???

12-23-2011, 05:02 PM
Sorry for another of these continous "what should I get" threads.

I found a local Kala Acacia tenor and it looks, and sounds pretty good.

Have played an Islander MT-4 (lam) and it also sounds very good.

Cant play both at the same time, so hope someone has opinon, on the timeless question.......

Which one? Islander solid MST-4 or Kala Solid Acacia tenor.

$100 more for the Kala.

12-23-2011, 05:11 PM
Personally, I'd go with the Kala, as I believe it's all solid wood.

12-23-2011, 05:39 PM
The Islander MST-4 is also all solid. The MT-4 is the lam version that I played, and was very impressed with...for a laminate.

My clock is ticking 'till noon tomorrow.....if it lasts in the store 'till then.

Merry Christmas to all............make beautiful music this season.

Drew Bear
12-23-2011, 06:37 PM
Hey, Daysailer. It's tough to make these choices when there are so many good options. Here's what would be going through my mind, but my priorities might not be the same as yours.

Islander is made by Kanile'a and I get the feeling they really want to make sure this new line gets established as the quality option in the sub-$300 range. I'm not sure Kala is quite as motivated at this point, but if you buy from a reliable local source I'm sure there'll be no problems with service.

$100 could buy you a nice case and extra strings.

If you're talking about the Kala ASAC-T, the slothead and some of the acacia wood grain are pretty cool looking. In general, mahogany just isn't as striking.

How badly do you want a new uke tomorrow vs waiting for the Islander?

You can see from my sig where I'd probably lean. Let us know what you decide.

12-23-2011, 06:52 PM
I don't have an islander, but I love my Kala solid acacia concert. And the slotted headstock on that tenor is gorgeous. Both ukes are made in China, though the Islander has the Kanile'a name behind it. I think the acacia is slightly mellower than my solid mahogany Ohana, if that helps.

Anyway, I bet you'll be happy either way. If bling means anything to you, go for the Kala: my concert gets comments whenever I pull it it out.

12-23-2011, 11:38 PM
The Islanders are inspected and set up by Joe and his crew before they leave Oahu. With Kalas you have to buy it from someone who will set it up for you. The action from the factory is all over the place. I have several Kalas (set up by MGM) and love them, but I would go with the Islander.

12-23-2011, 11:54 PM
Islanders are not made by Kanile'a, it is designed by Kanile'a and manufactured overseas . . . same with Pono, Big Island, Nalu, etc.

12-24-2011, 06:44 PM
The Islanders are all setup and inspected at the Kanile'a shop before being shipped out. Thanks to Music Guy Mic for posting the pictures of Joe inspecting the latest batch. Like I said, I love my Kalas, but from the factory the action is all over the place. If you get a Kala make sure you have it set up for you or buy it from someone who will do it for you like Hawaiian Music Supply on North Shore. The Islanders look very nice, look forward to playing one. Merry Christmas

12-25-2011, 08:37 AM
Still need help picking my Christmas present.

Thanks for all the advice about set-ups. I have been doing my own guitar set ups, and making my own compensated saddle, and custom bone/FWI nuts for over 10 years. I also have set up my Pono Tenor (solid sapele) well enough that a local uke builder was very impressed. So the set up is not really a selling point for me.

If you had to choose which uke, Islander MST-4, or Kala ASAC-T, to be your one and only for all around value....Which ?

Merry Christmas....

12-25-2011, 10:16 AM
Tough choice but I went the Kala route... the slotted headstock won me over. :p

12-26-2011, 06:08 AM
Yes the slotted headstock and the fretboard bling are part of the Kala's appeal.

Now that no surprize can now be spoiled, I can say that I have had an
Islander MT-4 (lam version) in my home for 3 weeks, and compared
it to my Pono PT tenor (all solid Sapele). Also took it to the local store
that has (had?) the Kala, to compare them.
My Son-in-law loves that Islander now.

My Pono has richer, fuller tone, but quieter, and does not sound as good as
the MT-4 when playing up the neck. Even though the Pono has bone
nut and saddle now. Both have Aquila strings on them. Pono is 3 years old.

Since I was also able to A/B compare, Kala and the lam version of the Islander
there was not much difference in sound. I expected to hear a richer
fuller tone from the all solid Kala. They both have Aquila's on them.
Perhaps the solid needs time to open up. But from my guitar experience,
the advice from many forums was to not buy expecting the 'opening-up'
to improve an insturment that much. Buy what sounds good today, not
for what it might become.

The wider neck on the Islander is nice, but my hands are not large, and from
playing fingerstyle on guitars, the narrower uke necks are not an issue for me.

If the price of the Kala ASAC-T was closer to the Islander MST-4, this
choice would be easier.....
Bird (uke) in the hand, Kala, would win over an on-line buy.

Thanks for all the advice here, and any more you might want to offer.
Merry Christmas to all.

12-27-2011, 07:24 AM
Check out the MST-4 and the ASAC-T on YouTube. I think the MST-4 wins. To me, the Kala sounds more muted/dull. But I'm a long-time guitar player and don't like Martins for the same reason, which is why I like Taylor guitars (and soon to be uke's) and Kanilea uke's (low G).

By the way, I also compared Pono's (more money) and the MST-4 on YouTube. Again, I thought the MST-4 sounded better to my old guitar ears (what there is left after rock music and Harley's :cool:).

12-27-2011, 07:37 AM
Islander >>> Kala