View Full Version : Beginner tenor uke

03-20-2014, 05:13 AM
Hi everyone,

I've been a guitar player for close to 20 years and for my birthday my girlfriend wants to get me a ukulele. I've been looking at the Kala KA-TG to be my first uke. There's a Makala tenor uke at a local shop for about $50 less and I know they're both made by the same company in a factory in China, but the Kala seems like it's a lot nicer. Any opinions on the Kala KA-TG? I'll probably order from Zen Ukes because they'll do a setup and ship for free.

03-20-2014, 08:54 AM
Hi lason

I also have played guitar for a long time and I have the Kala KA-GT. I'm happy with my choice. Fit and finish are good. I got a free set up on mine that I was a little nervous about but they did a good job. It plays well, sounds good and gloss finish looks good. I tried a set of Aquila Red Series Low G strings and did not like the sound at all. The low g seemed to drone no matter what I did. Switched back to Aquila high G and she seems very happy. Hope this helps some. Good luck with your purchase!

03-20-2014, 09:06 AM
That does help, thanks! There aren't many music stores where I live so my choices are somewhat limited as far as what I can see or play in person. I'll be going to a big music store at the end of the month who happens to be a Kala dealer so I can check that one out first hand.

03-20-2014, 09:37 AM
I have the Kala KA-T, which I think is the same as the TG, except for the finish. (G for gloss) It is a good, solid uke & though it is the entry level Kala, it is an improvement over the Makala in choice of wood (mahogany vs agathis), frets (nickel-silver vs brass), tuners (sealed vs inexpensive open ) & strings (Aquila vs black GHS). They also seem to be good for tossing. Check out Walk Off the Earth's "Royals" video.
That said, if you get to a music store, try the Kala KA-TEM. Nine bucks more & just feels better to me. I think a little more attention goes into it.
Good luck, whatever you decide.

03-20-2014, 09:48 AM
I was seriously considering the KA-T until I discovered the gloss finish on the KA-TG. I think for $7 more the gloss finish is worth it. The store also said they had the KA-TEM in stock too so I'll be sure to check that one out. I didn't exactly like the brass frets on the Makala tenor I saw and there was something up with the neck as there was significant buzzing at the first fret.

03-20-2014, 10:23 AM
I think you are right about the finish, especially if you are used to guitars. (I had 2 Martins when I got back into ukes; now, just 1) The other day I used Turtle Wax rubbing compound on the tenor, & the matte finish is more of a semi-gloss or light gloss now. It's not smooth like the gloss, but I like it.
I did want to mention that you might want to be well-versed in online prices before going to the music store, because, around here, it is common for dealers to use the internet as a price guide to find the going street price. You might not have to wait. What seems to vary are shipping, taxed or not, bag/case or not, no setup, some or full setup, & returns.
Again, good luck.

03-20-2014, 10:33 AM
The going price online for the KA-TG seems to be the same all over aside from the shipping. I was tempted to get it from Hawaii Music Supply but the shipping is $20 as opposed to free shipping from Zen Ukes with a setup included. The purpose of me going to the big store is to see and play it in person, not necessarily to buy. I don't think my girlfriend would be too happy if I came home with the present she is supposed to get me a month before my birthday. :)

03-21-2014, 11:07 AM
There is no quetion that HMS does a great job and if the delta is $20, it is worth the setup.

03-21-2014, 11:16 AM
I have no doubt about HMS doing quality setups but unfortunately money is a factor and the extra $20 would be cost prohibitive when Zen Ukes will do a setup and ship for free.

03-21-2014, 12:14 PM
In "beginner" ukes what you buy is far less important than where you buy it. Buy from a dealer that does good setups and it really doesn't matter that much whether you buy a $100 Kala or a $100 Lanikai or a $100 Cordoba or...hopefully you get the idea. ;)


03-22-2014, 01:39 AM
My son bought a $100 uke from HMS and said it was the best set up uke he had. Otherwise, fine tuning a set up uke isn't rocket science and HMS has a link on their site....What is a Setup? Good to see what's involved. I agree with the gloss finish on that Kala. Cosmetically, makes it look like a way, way classier instrument to me. I don't think the Makala has the bone nut and saddle either, and has plastic tuner shaft bushings last I saw. Can't really go wrong with the Kala