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View Full Version : Kala or Luna? Tips before buying?



OrganicSunshine
03-26-2014, 01:59 PM
Hey there,
I'm looking to buy either a Kala or a Luna Tenor under $200. More specifically, the Luna tattoo, and as for the Kala, I'm not yet sure. What do you suggest for my first buy?

Also, I'll be heading to the music store next week. What should I be looking for? And, if they don't have the Luna and I decide to go with this brand, where should I buy it online--and if I buy it used, again, what should I be considering?

Thanks!
Kim

Nickie
03-26-2014, 02:04 PM
Hi Kim.
I've bought/owned both Luna and Kala....I much prefer the Kala....try some out, and then check with Mim's Ukes, she's amember here...I got my favorite Kala from her....love it!

KevinV
03-26-2014, 02:06 PM
I can't say anything either way about Luna, I've never had one. But I've had a few Kala's and think quite highly of the brand. They offer some great ukes at good prices.

OldePhart
03-26-2014, 04:06 PM
In that price range it matters far less what brand you buy than it does where you buy it. Make sure you buy from someone who will set the uke up properly because the lower priced ukes are pretty variable. Buying from a reputable uke seller will mean they check the nut height and so on, so you get an instrument that is a good player even though it's not expensive.

John

OrganicSunshine
03-26-2014, 04:12 PM
Nickie and KevinV, what types of Kala did you own?

John, would you mind specifying for me what the seller should be looking for? There are three reputable music stores where I live but i want to make sure I can spot a reliable seller when I get in there.

Thanks everyone :o

Freeda
03-26-2014, 04:13 PM
I have a Luna Tattoo from HMS. It is reliable, though I did have to have a separated neck fixed at one point.

bnolsen
03-26-2014, 06:03 PM
I've seen some people report that they had an allergic reaction to the luna. every Luna I've played at guitar center only needed the nut taken down a bit, otherwise good intonation. honestly I haven't played with any Kalas yet.

Katz-in-Boots
03-26-2014, 06:08 PM
I've seen some people report that they had an allergic reaction to the luna.

Seriously? Allergic reaction?

actadh
03-26-2014, 06:50 PM
I have a Luna solid spruce top concert bought from HMS. They did a wonderful setup. And, no allergies or neck issues :) I love my Luna.

PereBourik
03-26-2014, 07:18 PM
I've owned two Luna tattoo concerts: the one I bought and its warranty replacement which has pretty much the same problem.

Buy a Kala. Get it from Mim.

Don't screw around with the big guitar stores who know nothing about ukulele.

1300cc
03-26-2014, 07:44 PM
http://iphone.ebay.com/Pages/ViewItem.aspx?aid=360891081124&emvAD=1024x676&sv=kala%20lite%20concert&emvcc=0&nbcol=0%7Cnull

igorthebarbarian
03-26-2014, 08:44 PM
If you're in the USA, please just buy from MIM. You'll be getting it properly set-up, which is a huuuuge must especially on your first one. It'll make the world of difference. Her shipping is free:

http://stores.ebay.com/Mims-Ukes

Patrick Madsen
03-26-2014, 09:32 PM
Kala over Luna but I'd also look at Mainland or Ohana and only buy from places like HMS, Mim's, Ukerepublic. As John said, it's more important that you have a proper setup instrument than the make in that price range and these shops do that before sending it out.. Most shops say they're already setup at the factory, but that setup is usually off or set way too high.

If it's not setup right, you're more prone to failure.

Kyle23
03-27-2014, 12:13 AM
Seriously? Allergic reaction?

Oddly enough, I got a weird rash on my strumming arm every time I played it hahaha. I've never got it with any other uke except for that one. Maybe it was the cedar that got to me.

Anyways, on topic, I have a Luna solid cedar top concert and it was a decent starter uke. I've played it a little since I got my solid acacia and it just sounds bad to me now. BUT I bought it on ebay and it wasn't set up. The action is pretty high on it and the frets are really sharp. The thing is, when I first started, I wasn't aware of any of these things. I thought that's how they were supposed to be. I have to say, I wouldn't buy another Luna if I had the choice.

savagehenry
03-27-2014, 02:18 AM
I have a Luna Tattoo tenor and it's really loud. I love it for fingerpicking, but not so much for strumming. It sounds very percussive when strummed. If you want a ukulele for fingerpicking, I would recommend the Luna, but for all round playing, another company like Kala, Ohana, or Mainland. Haven't played one, but I hear good things about Gretsch.

dickadcock
03-27-2014, 02:47 AM
... Just want to add that the tattoo is pretty much your only Luna choice in tenor size, while you are likely to encounter several Kalas. The KA- TEM is only a little more than the KA-T, but is much better, IMHO. (Those 2 are often found in stores around here, as well as they Luna.)

OldePhart
03-27-2014, 02:58 AM
Nickie and KevinV, what types of Kala did you own?

John, would you mind specifying for me what the seller should be looking for? There are three reputable music stores where I live but i want to make sure I can spot a reliable seller when I get in there.

Thanks everyone :o

Typically, inexpensive ukes have simple plastic nuts with the slots for the strings molded in (the nut is the part that the strings go over, at the headstock end of the fret board. They are never adjusted by hand, and the nuts are intentionally a little high to avoid buzzing if the fretwork is not perfect - even a beginner can instantly detect buzzing but many can't hear the intonation issues caused by the nut being too high.

At minimum, a setup should include filing the slots in the nut down until each string intonates correctly (is in tune) when fretted at the first fret. If a string starts buzzing before this point is reached then the frets should also be leveled and recrowned. Some folks will even routinely dress the fret ends and polish the frets as part of a setup, though that is less critical in my opinion and I don't consider someone who doesn't do that as "inadequate" (unless the fret ends are really terrible - but that's pretty rare even on inexpensive ukes).

You probably will not get a setup from a local store unless they are a very dedicated independent store with a ukulele fan in residence. It's not that a guitar tech can't do a good setup on a ukulele - it's that most of them consider the ukulele not worth setting up. (Whereas in reality, setup is more critical on a uke than it is on a guitar, especially on reentrant ukes, because of the large number of chords that contain unisons.) Also, the big chain stores like Guitar Centers don't even set up guitars - they just pull them out of the box and hang them on the wall.

John

OrganicSunshine
03-27-2014, 05:18 AM
Wow! Lots of awesome tips here! I'm glad I asked :)

I guess I'll be going with the Kala then! I'm not yet sure which one to go with---any suggestions?

Thanks everyone!
Kim

FrankB
03-27-2014, 05:31 AM
The Kala KA-STG looks very nice: http://www.theukulelesite.com/kala-ka-st-solid-spruce-top-satin-finish-1041.html
My wife and I each have Kala ukuleles (one was $260, and the other $350), and they're top notch.

peaceweaver3
03-27-2014, 05:37 AM
I'd choose a Kala model over a Luna. The Lunas are pretty and most come with electronics. But they can be hit or miss and often aren't set up well out of the box. This means they're hard to play. Unless you can do your own setup, or want to pay someone to do it, go Kala. The Lunas I've played also seem heavy and overbuilt for ukes.

Also, buy from a reputable dealer. If local, ask whether they do setups. Consider too, whether they really know something about ukes, or are they taking guitar or other fretted stringed instrument info and just applying it to the uke? UU can tell you, reputable online dealers include Hawaii Music Supply, Uke Republic, Elderly Instruments, Mim's Ukes... In no particular order.

I don't know how much the tenors are, but KPK (Koa Pili Koko) is another make that does great setups, and they're solid wood instruments if that's important to you. See
www.pilikoko.com

Ukejenny
03-27-2014, 05:43 AM
I don't know either of those brands, but as for sellers, purchasing from MIM was a very good experience for me. A friend of mine purchased from Uke Republic and it was a very good experience for her. In both cases, good setup on the instrument, and she had some questions with Uke Republic that were answered with very good communication. Mim is also very responsive to questions. That's what I like about a seller - good communication and good setup, as well as good prices and the rest of it.

JamieWG
03-27-2014, 05:51 AM
I don't know how much the tenors are, but KPK (Koa Pili Koko) is another make that does great setups, and they're solid wood instruments if that's important to you. See
www.pilikoko.com

I have to say that, unfortunately, I've never had the pleasure of trying one of these. If I wanted a tenor uke with a top price of $200, that's probably what I'd go for, following everything I've heard about them. Where else can you get an all solid wood uke, complete with gig bag, Worth strings, great setup job, and shipping, for $200 or less? Many folks rave about their KPKs.

Jamie

silveraven
03-27-2014, 07:27 AM
I have a Luna soprano, I like it. But it's well set up from HMS so I wouldn't know how a non-setup one is like. It also sounds better than a non-setup Kala a friend has. Keyword here is "setup". ;)

IF I had to choose again, I probably would go with a Gretsch.

JamieWG
03-27-2014, 07:44 AM
If you're up for a used tenor, I just saw this one in the Marketplace here! Hard to go wrong with a Mainland. http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?94333-FS-Mainland-Classic-Mahogany-Tenor-with-gig-bag

pixiepurls
03-27-2014, 07:51 AM
I love my kala.

OrganicSunshine
03-27-2014, 07:54 AM
Random Q: Does Mim usually sell her ukes with a gig bag or anything, or simply the uke itself? I need to know if I should be looking to buy additional accessories.

Thanks again!
Kim

OrganicSunshine
03-27-2014, 07:57 AM
Nevermind - she has already replied... damn, she's fast!

Nickie
03-27-2014, 01:34 PM
Oh sorry, I was away....one of my Kalas is a KA-C. It's a laminate, probaly cost about $100 new. The other one, I don't know the designation, but it's solid mahogany, cutaway body, with electrics....It was only $270 new, came setup from Mim.....I love it!

KevinV
03-27-2014, 02:18 PM
Nickie and KevinV, what types of Kala did you own?

Thanks everyone :o

I've owned several Kala's, and still own a Soprano SMHS solid mahogany, 15-S soprano which is a laminate mahogany, an ASAC-T tenor acacia, and an ASLAC soprano which is solid lacewood back/sides with a sprue top. I've got no gripes with any of them, although the ASLAC is my least favorite. It seems to be heavily coated in poly which sucks some of the tone out of it. I plan to strip and refinish when I'm done with the SMHS. They're not hand built works of art, but for the cash, they can't be beat IMO.