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View Full Version : Kala Travel Soprano vs. Kala Tenor Mahogany



westcoast
09-17-2013, 07:21 PM
I started out with a gloss tenor Kala KA-TG with laminate mahogany which sounded fine to me. More recently I got a Kala Travel Soprano, which has a solid spruce top and laminate mahogany back and sides.

One thing I've noticed is that the travel soprano is louder than the tenor that I have. Any reason why that may be? I know there's a lot of variation among ukuleles of the same model and brand, of course.

It makes me think I might like to upgrade the tenor I have, so now I'm looking again...

PhilUSAFRet
09-18-2013, 01:09 AM
can always get the Kala spruce top travel tenor to go along with the soprano!

westcoast
09-18-2013, 04:50 AM
Yeah, I've thought about that. While useful for going on trips, the travel soprano's thinbody makes it a little harder for me to actually hold and play the uke, so for my 'at home' uke, I was probably going to get a normal-sized tenor.

Though now I'm wondering about koa / acacia / mahogany solid tops so I'm starting to window shop at Gryphon to see what kinds of instruments they have :)

Flyinby
09-18-2013, 11:45 AM
The Kala travel models definitely have good volume; I have the golden acacia travel tenor, and it's noticeably louder than one would expect. I believe the arched back is the main reason for this, but it's a good uke overall, with spot-on intonation and a good sound. The spruce models might even be a bit louder, but I don't know.

If you go to solid wood for a new tenor, I'm not sure you'll get more volume. The laminates I have (a couple of Islanders) are noticeably louder than most of my solid wood ukes, but the sound itself is different, so if you can try out some solid wood/solid top ukes to see which sounds best to you, that may be the best upgrade approach.

Ironically, the "travel" tenor has mostly stayed home when I travel, because I later got a nice Flea (concert, with wood fretboard), which is so great for travel that it wins every time.

Kdogg
09-18-2013, 01:16 PM
I believe the arched back is the main reason for this.

I agree with the arched back projecting more sound,Taylor did the same thing with the GSmini a great little portable Guitar. The soundboard would also probably make a difference as well as string tension.
If I am way off some one let me know as I am still a Noob,though I do seem to be absorbing some of the info I have been reading as well as getting slightly better at playing LOL. :shaka:

westcoast
09-18-2013, 03:02 PM
Ironically, the "travel" tenor has mostly stayed home when I travel, because I later got a nice Flea (concert, with wood fretboard), which is so great for travel that it wins every time.

Yeah, I had thought about getting a Flea soprano for travel - I guess with the plastic you don't really need a case like you do with the Kala travel soprano so it probably works out to be about the same size.

ralphk
09-19-2013, 04:43 AM
hard to beat a Flea for travel. Or for much else for that matter.

westcoast
09-19-2013, 05:43 AM
hard to beat a Flea for travel. Or for much else for that matter.

Unfortunately I think the local shop near me only sells the Fleas with the plastic fretboards, and I'd like to buy my ukes in person as they provide free setup service. I'm not sure that the Flea needs much setup work however.

Flyinby
09-19-2013, 01:55 PM
I doubt the Flea will need setup; at least the Fluke and Flea I have, bought from ebay, have spot-on intonation and good string height.

The wooden fretboard does add quite a lot to the cost, however I just couldn't bear the idea of spending that much on a uke with a plastic fretboard. I lucked out and found a like new concert Flea (soprano with concert neck) with exactly what I wanted...the surfboard design top, wooden fretboard and even the denim bag, which is really nice for traveling with it. I had priced it (new) at about $350, and was uneasy about that, so when the exact same thing came up on ebay, I wasn't about to let it get away. Even had the original black strings.

I think the plastic is fairly decent polycarbonate on the flukes and fleas, and I've heard reports that it's OK, but personally I'd spend the extra for the wood/metal. Sometimes ebay sellers don't seem to even know which is which, but you can usually tell from the photos.

If you can't find the one you want locally, I don't think you have to worry about setup in the case of new Flukes or Fleas, at least based on what I've seen. Both new and used ones are on ebay, more new ones than used.

westcoast
09-19-2013, 03:10 PM
I think the plastic is fairly decent polycarbonate on the flukes and fleas, and I've heard reports that it's OK, but personally I'd spend the extra for the wood/metal. Sometimes ebay sellers don't seem to even know which is which, but you can usually tell from the photos.

If you can't find the one you want locally, I don't think you have to worry about setup in the case of new Flukes or Fleas, at least based on what I've seen. Both new and used ones are on ebay, more new ones than used.

Thanks for the tips - I think my concern with the plastic fretboard on the Flukes/Fleas is that eventually they will need refretting, but I just read a page on their site which says that as long as you use nylon strings, it should be ok.

In any case, I like my travel uke a lot, and while a flea would probably be more durable, I'll probably stick with the Kala soprano for now. (This review where the guy throws the Flea is pretty funny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fn0cHL3ZNkY&t=2m00s)

Tenor-wise, though I'm starting to wonder about the nicer ukes - my local shop has Pono, Martin, Kamaka (and Collings, but that's starting to get a little too much for me!)