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View Full Version : Variation in tone in same model?



Dmott
12-28-2013, 05:53 AM
I've been looking into ukuleles a lot recently, trying to find a replacement for a stolen Ohana tenor (This site helps a lot). I found and bought a COrdoba 20tmce which was almost identical, handfiled a bone saddle, I had intonation pretty good and found a loose fret wire which was causing all sorts of buzzing frets 1-4. So now that is returned.

All of that to say I remembered a local shop and went to check out what they had. They had a Kala-Ka-ST and a Kala-KA-SMLT (and others). The Kala KA-SMLT looked really nice, and it was all solid wood for $230 or something. I had not seen this and so I googled it on my phone to make sure it was all solid wood. The Kala KA-ST was $180 I think.

I borrowed a tuner and started comparing the two. I already knew about the Kala Ka-ST and expected this to be the louder and brighter of the two. Well it was definitely louder but had a much warmer tone to it also. The KA-SMLT sounded like an aluminum can with strings, and the owner seemed to agree. They both had Aquilas,

Is it possible somebody put soprano strings and Im too dumb to notice? Or is there a huge variation in certain models/woods? Everybody seems to like their KA-SMLT and they should be very nice being all solid wood right?

PS now I have that Kala KA-ST. Saddle seemed to be very poorly shaped, but I changed that to a bone saddle again.

iamesperambient
12-28-2013, 05:58 AM
I've been looking into ukuleles a lot recently, trying to find a replacement for a stolen Ohana tenor (This site helps a lot). I found and bought a COrdoba 20tmce which was almost identical, handfiled a bone saddle, I had intonation pretty good and found a loose fret wire which was causing all sorts of buzzing frets 1-4. So now that is returned.

All of that to say I remembered a local shop and went to check out what they had. They had a Kala-Ka-ST and a Kala-KA-SMLT (and others). The Kala KA-SMLT looked really nice, and it was all solid wood for $230 or something. I had not seen this and so I googled it on my phone to make sure it was all solid wood. The Kala KA-ST was $180 I think.

I borrowed a tuner and started comparing the two. I already knew about the Kala Ka-ST and expected this to be the louder and brighter of the two. Well it was definitely louder but had a much warmer tone to it also. The KA-SMLT sounded like an aluminum can with strings, and the owner seemed to agree. They both had Aquilas,

Is it possible somebody put soprano strings and Im too dumb to notice? Or is there a huge variation in certain models/woods? Everybody seems to like their KA-SMLT and they should be very nice being all solid wood right?

PS now I have that Kala KA-ST. Saddle seemed to be very poorly shaped, but I changed that to a bone saddle again.


in lower to mid level ukes i think quality varies sadly.
you could find one lanikai lu21 with perfect action and intonation
and than another with horrible intonation etc. I find in my cases
the quality is uses the same but it can vary in lower models.

Dmott
12-28-2013, 06:06 AM
in lower to mid level ukes i think quality varies sadly.
you could find one lanikai lu21 with perfect action and intonation
and than another with horrible intonation etc. I find in my cases
the quality is uses the same but it can vary in lower models.

Yeah I actually have a LU21P and it sounds great, but I believe the bridge was placed a little too close to the nut. All strings are sharp at the 12th fret.

But I didn't find any defect or bad craftsmanship on the Kala KA-SMLT, it just sounded like a resonator guitar.

iamesperambient
12-28-2013, 06:08 AM
Yeah I actually have a LU21P and it sounds great, but I believe the bridge was placed a little too close to the nut. All strings are sharp at the 12th fret.

But I didn't find any defect or bad craftsmanship, it just sounded like a resonator guitar.

I have a lu-21 soprano and mine is pretty good. once you get down to the 7th fret the tone
is a bit muffled and the intonation is slightly off but over all for the price its got a nice tone
and feel decent affordable uke. I used to own a martin (i had to sell it when i lost my job)
but now i basically compare everything to the sound/feel/action/intonation of the martin
and really nothing stacks up but over all the lanikai for the price is shockingly good.

OldePhart
12-28-2013, 06:55 AM
There is variation even between specimens of the same model uke and even at the top of the food chain. As you climb the price ladder the variation tends to become smaller and the overall tone and volume better, but it is simply the nature of things made by gluing lots of little bits of wood together that there is always going to be variation.

Sometimes you're the pigeon and get a uke that is far better than it's brothers and sisters, even at the bottom of the ladder. Sometimes you're the statue and get the opposite and this can happen even near the top of the ladder...though up there even being the statue is usually not so bad and even the pigeons from lower down the ladder might envy you. :)

John

Uke Republic
12-28-2013, 07:18 AM
Wood can have a different tone even from the same billet. Koa for instance can sound warm, bright and in the middle within it's tonal spectrum.

mm stan
12-28-2013, 07:27 AM
there are so many factors in the building process,materials, and woods..that affect a ukes tone... generally speaking even the same woods from the same tree even the same builder and or model
in the same factory built next to each other will sound different..ukes are like people and they will have their own voices...I would get a used mid level to premimum uke if you save up, as it would save you money in the long run...however there are some budget priced ukes that are a bang for the buck...but from a reputable dealer..Uke Republic, MIM, Mainland Mike, HMS etc and a set up makes a big difference too... good luck and happy strummings... play the uke before buying...hence my saying, Try before you Buy the higher level uke or builder you may bet more consistancy but
that is not always...there are some low end ukes that sound great too..It is like finding a needle in a haystack...play even the same models side by side and you will ear the difference..pick the best sounding one and trust your reputable dealer..

PhilUSAFRet
12-28-2013, 10:05 AM
Kala's ship with Aquilas and solid mahogany ukes often sound like crap with them.