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View Full Version : Your professional (and not so) opinion requested.



Icelander53
04-25-2014, 12:09 PM
http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/kala-acacia-tenor
http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/pono-acacia-tenor

I'm trying to help a friend pick out a nice, relatively inexpensive solid acacia tenor and we both lack some experience.

I've narrowed it down to these in a quick search. I'm kind of surprised that the PONO is the less expensive of the two although the KALA does come with a lite case.

Anyway If you could get one of these which would you choose and why?

If you have another choice in this price range I'm all eyes.

Ukejenny
04-25-2014, 12:24 PM
My very inexperienced opinion is that I'd sick with my KPK solid acacia deluxe tenor.

http://pilikoko.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=8

stevepetergal
04-25-2014, 12:25 PM
Pono. (notice the period) I've owned several Kalas. They're all just fine (notice the "just") After playing a few Ponos, I find them very carefully built, with lovely sound top to bottom, excellent intonation. I still haven't seen a Kala that could compare.

DownUpDave
04-25-2014, 12:25 PM
My professional, non-professional opinion is Pono. Just because I really like Pono sound and playability. That being said the new Kala slothead acacia tenor is beautiful, gloss finish, great herribone purfing and faux tortise binding gives it the edge in the looks department.:-)They sound and play great as well. Ok I am now undecided...........................go Pono, no wait Kala. I was a Big help, wasn't I.

Yea PONO!!!

Uncle Leroy
04-25-2014, 12:36 PM
I would go with the Pono. They make beautiful playing and sounding ukes.

OldePhart
04-25-2014, 01:21 PM
Yep. Gotta agree with everybody else...Pono over Kala any day of the week. I've played a couple of Pono laminated ukes that sounded better than some of the solid wood Kala ukes.

That's not to say there aren't good Kala ukes...it's just that the consistency seems a lot better in the Pono line.

I think it has a lot to do with who owns and operates the brands. Kala is basically an Asian company filling a perceived need for inexpensive instruments...there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, while Pono ukes are made in Asia, the parent company is a Hawaiian ukulele company with a reputation to protect and their aim seems to be to provide potential future customers of their more expensive line with an entry point that is affordable but will encourage people to 1) stay with the ukulele and 2) think Ko'Olau when they can afford to upgrade.

Then again, I could be completely full of carp (not my favorite fish but it will do in a pinch).

John

Icelander53
04-25-2014, 01:40 PM
I've spent many a fun day at the river fishing for carp with molasses and flour dough balls. Never actually ate one though. (actually I have eaten a few of those dough balls)

Well I'm going to recommend the PONO to her then. The price is right that's for sure.

One last question if I may. Do you all think that Koa is that much better sounding a tonewood then Acacia?

OldePhart
04-25-2014, 01:58 PM
I've spent many a fun day at the river fishing for carp with molasses and flour dough balls. Never actually ate one though. (actually I have eaten a few of those dough balls)

Well I'm going to recommend the PONO to her then. The price is right that's for sure.

One last question if I may. Do you all think that Koa is that much better sounding a tonewood then Acacia?

When you compare Koa and Acacia you are at the point that design and construction have far, far, more impact on the sound than the wood choice. (Koa is actually a variety of Acacia.)

I think the big deal in comparing Koa and Acacia is primarily visual...Koa is simply one of the most visually appealing species of Acacia with a very wide range of colors and grain patterns, sometimes even from the same tree.

John

kissing
04-25-2014, 02:01 PM
Having tried both brands, definitely the Pono if they're around the same price point.

The truss rod is a good advantage too, and Pono's generally have better acoustic sound.

Pueo
04-25-2014, 02:11 PM
I own a Pono and I own a Kala. I find the Pono superior in every way. True, the Pono I own is a higher-end model than the Kala I own, but still - if I were narrowing it down between the two, I would choose the Pono.

kohanmike
04-25-2014, 02:28 PM
Seems that everyone who has compared a Pono and a Kala prefer the Pono. I recently bought a Kala cedar/acacia koa coming up from lesser ukes, so all I can tell you is that my Kala is much better than what I had before.

Icelander53
04-25-2014, 02:56 PM
I'll bet it sounds great. I hear a lot of great things about Kala and I'm sure both are very nice sounding instruments.

If it was for me I think I'd spring for this. http://www.gretschguitars.com/products/index.php?partno=2730048321 Elderly has them for around $429

PhilUSAFRet
04-25-2014, 02:57 PM
That Kala sounds bright and punchy, but does not have the depth of sound the Pono has. That KPK isn't to be sneezed at. I have the concert model and they are amazing for the price. Heavier than the Kala or Pono though. Often, the acacia on those KPK's is stunning.

Icelander53
04-25-2014, 03:00 PM
How many ukes do you actually have? :worship:

Pueo
04-25-2014, 03:17 PM
As long as everyone is spouting opinions...
As OldPhart pointed out, Koa is a species of the Acacia tree. Kind of like how true Champagne can only be called Champagne if it comes from grapes grown in a certain region of France, only the certain species of Acacia tree indigenous to Hawaii can be called Koa. There were companies that were making ukuleles out of the same species of wood that was not grown in Hawaii and still calling it Koa, and people got upset, so now the labeling is much better and they call it Acacia wood.
Enough facts, here comes the opinion part.
Hawaiians usually use what they have at their disposal. Koa wood is beautiful and grows in Hawaii, so Hawaiian ukulele makers used koa wood to make ukuleles. I don't think it imparts any magic to the sound. There are a number of tonewoods that sound just as nice. Get what YOU like. I do have a Pono Koa ukulele (made before Pono stopped making Koa ukuleles) and I love it. I also have ukuleles made with other wood, mahogany, sapele, maple, and my favorite - Milo.
For me, the "magic" of a Koa ukulele would be to have really nice koa hand made into a really nice ukulele, like a Kamaka deluxe or a Moore Bettah. I don;t think I would seek out another ukulele just because it was Koa or Acacia because that automatically means it has great sound.
I do like this little ukulele though that I found in a music shop here on Oahu. It just had to come home with me!
66228

OldePhart
04-25-2014, 03:20 PM
I'll bet it sounds great. I hear a lot of great things about Kala and I'm sure both are very nice sounding instruments.

If it was for me I think I'd spring for this. http://www.gretschguitars.com/products/index.php?partno=2730048321 Elderly has them for around $429

I'd be a little cautious. The higher end Gretsch ukes can be really nice, but they also have some of the same "variability" issues as the Kala. I.e. some are great, others are just barely okay. The big thing Pono has going, especially in the solid-wood models, is very good quality control oversight and thus much less variability across the line. I've yet to encounter a Pono that was a real stinker, and most are amazing for the price.



How many ukes do you actually have? :worship:

Careful buddy...that's a little bit like asking a woman her age... LOL

John

OldePhart
04-25-2014, 03:23 PM
I do like this little ukulele though that I found in a music shop here on Oahu. It just had to come home with me!
66228

Holy Carpal Tunnel, Batman, if that sounds half as good as it looks that puppy would have followed me home too, and I'm not even a very visual guy!

John

pixiepurls
04-25-2014, 03:27 PM
http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/kala-acacia-tenor
http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/pono-acacia-tenor

I'm trying to help a friend pick out a nice, relatively inexpensive solid acacia tenor and we both lack some experience.

I've narrowed it down to these in a quick search. I'm kind of surprised that the PONO is the less expensive of the two although the KALA does come with a lite case.

Anyway If you could get one of these which would you choose and why?

If you have another choice in this price range I'm all eyes.

I have a kala and a pono (tenor vs baritone) and they both rock. Kala's are quiet wonderful, as are Pono's. Personal preference is what it comes down to in use's IMHO when you are looking in the same $ range. I have tried 5 or so brands at my local Uke store and I always come back to the Kalas but that is my personal preference :)

I think they both have a reputation for quality. Kala makes a lot more "cheaper" ukes then pono so of course there are crappier kalas then ponos because they make cheaper ones.

Pueo
04-25-2014, 03:36 PM
Holy Carpal Tunnel, Batman, if that sounds half as good as it looks that puppy would have followed me home too, and I'm not even a very visual guy!

John
It sounds incredible. The back is arched. The top soundboard is very thin and alive. It is ALL koa - the neck, fretboard, bridge, everything.
It is one of my favorites.
http://youtu.be/AitxyynqWW4

aquadan
04-25-2014, 03:52 PM
Another vote for Pono! We've got a kala tenor in the house and it's nice and sounds pretty good, but it can't compare to the Ponos.

OldePhart
04-25-2014, 04:01 PM
It sounds incredible. The back is arched. The top soundboard is very thin and alive. It is ALL koa - the neck, fretboard, bridge, everything.
It is one of my favorites.
http://youtu.be/AitxyynqWW4

That sounds nice...but...dude...you need to get a wind screen for the microphone!

On a serious note...I think I've going to have to start saving for a trip to the islands. I was there for most of a summer back in '66 when I was a little boy and haven't been back since. I'd like to know where you found such an isolated-feeling spot with a view of Diamond Head in the background? I remember when I was there in '66 it seemed that whole side of the island was nothing but tourist hotels stacked up right down to the beach. Maybe you're another bay further away from the "main drag?"

I hate crowds. Hated them then as a little boy. Hate them now.

We spent most of the summer in a little isolated beach cabin on Molakai...that was amazing.

John

itsme
04-25-2014, 04:04 PM
Seems that everyone who has compared a Pono and a Kala prefer the Pono. I recently bought a Kala cedar/acacia koa coming up from lesser ukes, so all I can tell you is that my Kala is much better than what I had before.
Kala has a good reputation and makes some really fine ukes. I have a spruce top thinline travel tenor and it's amazing for what it is. I also have a Pono MHT and love it. Neither of these are top-of-the-line within their brand, but I would give the edge to Pono.

Kala makes a lot of lower-end and entry level ukes as well as some mid-to-better ones. Pono isn't in the low-end market so its rep is for better ukes.

Not saying a high-end Kala couldn't beat some Ponos, but it just doesn't carry the same cachet.

Icelander53
04-25-2014, 04:10 PM
That sounds nice...but...dude...you need to get a wind screen for the microphone!

On a serious note...I think I've going to have to start saving for a trip to the islands. I was there for most of a summer back in '66 when I was a little boy and haven't been back since. I'd like to know where you found such an isolated-feeling spot with a view of Diamond Head in the background? I remember when I was there in '66 it seemed that whole side of the island was nothing but tourist hotels stacked up right down to the beach. Maybe you're another bay further away from the "main drag?"

I hate crowds. Hated them then as a little boy. Hate them now.

We spent most of the summer in a little isolated beach cabin on Molakai...that was amazing.

John


If you want tropical and isolated beaches a more primitive feel without giving up all the creature comforts I suggest Fiji. I spent four months there and a lot of it without people around. Take your uke.

Kyle23
04-25-2014, 04:13 PM
I guess it's already settled, but in case it's not, I vote the Pono. The KPK is very good for the price however. I'm not a huge fan of Kala, but they have been improving a lot lately or so I've heard.

Pueo
04-25-2014, 04:27 PM
(sorry to hijack the thread!)
Yes, I know, my video camera does not have a way to block wind. The gusts just came up suddenly and would not relent. So, just to make everyone feel even worse, that spot is called Magic Island, and it is right at the end of Ala Moana Beach Park, right across the street from the largest mall in Hawaii, Ala Moana Center. My office building is right next to Ala Moana Center, and so I walked there on my lunch break. I can see that spot from my 14th floor office window. Yes, there are LOTS of folks around, but I know some spots to go on Oahu where it is pretty sparse, and quite relaxing. Not like Moloka`i though - that is a great place to go to get away from it all. I would love to travel to Fiji someday.

Here is where I made the video, I marked my office building and where I sat to make the video. Diamond Head would be off the picture to the right a few miles.
66232

Teek
04-25-2014, 04:29 PM
I've had several Kalas and recommend them for their inexpensive models, but when the price is close to the same or the Pono is a little more, Pono all the way. In case you have not yet been convinced. ;)

OldePhart
04-25-2014, 04:30 PM
If you want tropical and isolated beaches a more primitive feel without giving up all the creature comforts I suggest Fiji. I spent four months there and a lot of it without people around. Take your uke.

That sounds interesting. I remember back in '96 I was in KL, Malaysia for six weeks on a job. I remember flying down the west coast of Malaysia on the second leg from Hong Kong to Singapore. I had the good fortune to be on the right side window seat and there was mile, after mile, after mile, after mile of pristine white beaches with nothing built up and very few roads from the jungle to be found all down the west coast of that peninsula. I could really spend a few weeks...or maybe the rest of my life...in a place like that. Probably hard for a techy like me to make a living from there, though. LOL

Edit: Actually...I guess it was the east coast of the peninsula... :)

John

Icelander53
04-25-2014, 04:33 PM
I think Hawaii is way more beautiful than Fiji minus the huge population. The charm in Fiji is the isolation and the mostly beautiful reefs for snorkeling and diving and the underpopulation. You can live on just a few bucks a day also. I went long ago but I hear it hasn't changed much.

So the Pono it is. I'm looking forward to hearing it.

Gary52
04-25-2014, 06:31 PM
One thing I didn't see mentioned in this thread is the difference in the necks between Kala and Pono. The Pono tenor has a truss rod and a thicker neck to accommodate the rod. Kala might be a better fit for someone with small hands.

I have a Pono mahogany concert and the fit & finish on it are flawless. Its tone is richer than that of a Kala hog concert.

steel rider
04-25-2014, 07:32 PM
Well hopefully your friend is going Pono all the way given the two choices. Not to throw a wrench in the plans but I saw and played a Nalu after buying my Pono and loved the Nalu. Made in China and all solid wood (like Mainland I have which is also great!) but more attractive IMO with nice inlays. And you get a nice case while supporting a small company. And I've never seen anyone with a Nalu which I think is cool

But back to your two choices. I have the Pono AT purchased from Uke Republic and love it. The only thing I wish is that I purchased the Deluxe model, but that's a lot of $ for an arguably more beautiful instrument. Regarding the neck size, a petite woman in my old uke group has the Pono Tenoe Deluxe (hence my jealousy) and has no issues at all with it. It's really about how it feels. You will see 10 Kalas or more for every Pono, which also draws me to Pono.

So, um, PONO ALL THE WAY!

greenie44
04-26-2014, 02:21 AM
(sorry to hijack the thread!)

Here is where I made the video, I marked my office building and where I sat to make the video. Diamond Head would be off the picture to the right a few miles.
66232

I was just going to recommend Ala Moana Beach without even seeing your video. John, this place is less than a mile from the crowds of Waikiki. I've been there plenty of times, and most days there isn't anyone within 100 feet of me on the beach. Slow sloping sand, so it's not that deep for a long way, and essentially the same view as Waikiki.

It all depends on your definition of 'crowds'. I don't like them either, and I spend 4-6 weeks in Waikiki most summers. All you have to do it not follow the common wisdom, which you might just already be good at, John.

The funny part about Ala Moana Beach is that across the street, probably .3 of a mile away, there is a giant shopping center. So just look at the water, or over the buildings back to the mountains with beautiful clouds rolling in. (Also, there is a small number of homeless in the park, but they have never bothered anyone that I can see)

OldePhart
04-26-2014, 04:19 AM
Here is where I made the video, I marked my office building and where I sat to make the video. Diamond Head would be off the picture to the right a few miles.
66232

Wow, would never have imagined it. Camera viewpoint is everything! :)

John

OldePhart
04-26-2014, 04:23 AM
The funny part about Ala Moana Beach is that across the street, probably .3 of a mile away, there is a giant shopping center. So just look at the water, or over the buildings back to the mountains with beautiful clouds rolling in. (Also, there is a small number of homeless in the park, but they have never bothered anyone that I can see)
Thanks. I've always wondered about that shopping center on prime tourist real estate...do people really go to Hawaii to go shopping??? Sure, I realize that locals have to shop but I'm betting they probably know better places to go. If that's the shopping center I remember us going to once when I was a kid it was billed (at that time) as the largest shopping center in the world and I remember there was a boat dealer or boat show on the upper level. Seemed crazy to me and I was only 9 or 10.

John

greenie44
04-26-2014, 07:16 AM
Thanks. I've always wondered about that shopping center on prime tourist real estate...do people really go to Hawaii to go shopping??? Sure, I realize that locals have to shop but I'm betting they probably know better places to go. If that's the shopping center I remember us going to once when I was a kid it was billed (at that time) as the largest shopping center in the world and I remember there was a boat dealer or boat show on the upper level. Seemed crazy to me and I was only 9 or 10.

John

Stores come and go, to some extent, from my experience, but it is a Hawaiian shopping center. Meaning great aloha shirts at the chain department stores, a Hello Kitty store, and loads of other Hawaiian type stuff. We spend 6 weeks a year on Oahu and go there a lot. And yes, people come to Hawaii to go shopping - especially Japanese folks. That's why Waikiki is loaded with Japanese tourists and hardly any on Kauai.

Steveperrywriter
04-26-2014, 07:25 AM
Been a while since my wife and I visited Hawaii. First trip, we spent time on the Big Island; last time, a couple weeks on Maui, and the beaches in Hana were almost always empty save for us and maybe three or four other folks. Couple times, we were completely alone. Downtown Honolulu and way the hell and gone up the single-lane road are different experiences ...

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