Kala Elite Doghair Tenor Review

EDW

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Thanks for the thoughtful review and for the very musical and artistic performances.
 

Ukecaster

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Great review & sweet uke! Did you ever play the Elite koa tenor? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the tonal differences.
 

Peter Frary

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Mahalo guys for the kind words!

UkeCaster, I actually own a Kala Elite Koa but it's not a standard model. It's a custom design that HMS ordered, a hybrid of the Koa1 and Koa3 design: satin finish like a Koa1 but the ebony binding and fingerboard of the Koa3. It came with those terrible GraphTech Ratio tuners, 3 of which failed within a month (HMS replaced with UPTs). I think the wood is koa1 grade but it's nicely figured with a little curl. The tone of my Koa Elite is super mellow compared to the Doghair and a level softer in volume (but still very decent projection). It has a beautiful voice for tasto strums but is a little too laidback for single line improvisation in an ensemble (doesn't pop like the Doghair does). If I could only own one ukulele, I'd take the Doghair in a heartbeat.
 

Nickie

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Nice review, nice picking! I love that KALA finally got on the through the body bridge stringing. After a few times, it gets real easy to restring. I can even restring my resonator pretty quickly now.
I'm glad you let us know that those GraphTech Ratio tuners are crap, now I won't bother with them.
 

Peter Frary

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Ah dunno, you must be far more skilled than me! I've been changing string-through-bridge instruments for the past year—nearly weekly—and it still takes me much longer than a tie block. The extra time is mainly spent trying to fish the string end out of the soundbox as it often gets snagged in the braces or along the side.
 

M3Ukulele

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Nice review I like your format with description, then embedded sound clips. Being a very good player, yourself, the description on touch and tone and style are great. I’m with Nickie in that I love the string thru bridges. I have all types but really like string thru. I use a tie block , instead of beads or just a knot. Now, that I’ve done it so many times, it’s fast and easy. I’d buy a dog hair in heart beat given this review and your comments on the Koa. I’d rather they shipped with UPT’s. Too bad Graphtech tuners have issues. Hope they adjust. I think for lower end ukes, they have a place. If I’m spending the dollars for a Kala Elite, dog hair or Koa, I want UPT’s.
 

Rakelele

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Thanks for another great insight. Your reviews with sound clips have become one of the best resources on this forum. Please keep'em coming.
 

Ukecaster

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Mahalo guys for the kind words!

UkeCaster, I actually own a Kala Elite Koa but it's not a standard model. It's a custom design that HMS ordered, a hybrid of the Koa1 and Koa3 design: satin finish like a Koa1 but the ebony binding and fingerboard of the Koa3. It came with those terrible GraphTech Ratio tuners, 3 of which failed within a month (HMS replaced with UPTs). I think the wood is koa1 grade but it's nicely figured with a little curl. The tone of my Koa Elite is super mellow compared to the Doghair and a level softer in volume (but still very decent projection). It has a beautiful voice for tasto strums but is a little too laidback for single line improvisation in an ensemble (doesn't pop like the Doghair does). If I could only own one ukulele, I'd take the Doghair in a heartbeat.

Interesting! That's exactly opposite what I thought you'd say: that the koa Elite was brighter and louder. Hmmm. Have you ever played vintage Martin tenors? I'd expect the Doghair tenor to be close to those.
 

Peter Frary

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I have a second Kala Elite Doghair 2019 build (don't ask) and it sounds almost exactly the same as my first one but slightly louder. What a screamer! I've also played one they had in stock at HMS and it was louder than average as well. I didn't buy it only because it had GraphTech Ratios installed and two of them were already broken (hence a direct buy from Kala). The only vintage Martin I've played recently was from the late 1950s and was on the soft and dull side but the owner, my student, kept really thin nylon black strings on it (almost as old as the instruments!) so it probably could sound much better. But, yeah, the Doghair doesn't sound like Martins I've heard.

I'm sure the tone will eventually mellow some as I've only owned it for a little over a month.