Vacation Uke

VegasGeorge

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I’m presently on vacation visiting Galveston, TX. I just bought a Kala Soprano, KA 15S. I’m amazed. It was, of course very inexpensive. But it has a great tone, good volume, nice sustain, and was very playable right out of the box. I have Sopranos at home that cost four or five times as much that aren’t any better. I bought it at a surf shop! :cool:
 

Cadia

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I have a maple Kala that sounds wonderful. I would not be one to dismiss the tone and playability of a Kala.
 

kohanmike

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I'm right there too. Seven years ago, after playing uke for a year (and guitar for almost 50 years), I decided to buy a "better" tenor uke than the ones I had. I contacted Mim and she recommended a Kala KAATP-CTG-CE solid cedar top, acacia koa cutaway with preamp for $369. I was ready to buy, trading in three of my lesser ukes, but she didn't take trade ins. So I went to McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, CA and tried it. Sounded and played great, I even did a comparison to a Kamaka and KoAloha, and honestly felt that the Kala was so close, I couldn't tell a substantial difference, no need to spend almost three times as much, so I bought it with trade in. It's been my go to uke ever since.

Kala cedar mine.jpg



This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly Grove near the Beverly Center
8 tenor cutaway ukes, 4 acoustic bass ukes, 10 solid body bass ukes, 14 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 36)

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My first uke was a Kala learn to play soprano which I’m pretty sure is the same uke. Mine came from Amazon set up perfectly and sounds great. It’s easily my most played instrument, and I have to be honest, when I compare it to higher end solid wood ukes it holds up nicely. It does have a narrow neck and a tie bar bridge (I don’t like those on any uke) so it’s not perfect. Also the tuners are pretty low quality, but darn it, I love that thing.
 

Graham Greenbag

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I’m presently on vacation visiting Galveston, TX. I just bought a Kala Soprano, KA 15S. I’m amazed. It was, of course very inexpensive. But it has a great tone, good volume, nice sustain, and was very playable right out of the box. I have Sopranos at home that cost four or five times as much that aren’t any better. I bought it at a surf shop! :cool:

From what I understand of it a Kala KA-15S is like a KA-S but without binding and with brass frets. The KA-S is a good player, well mine is. An acquaintance in the Uke Club fitted worth Brown’s to her KA-15S and I was rather surprised by how good it sounded.

The way it is with Ukes is that price and brand aren’t that dependable as indications of quality. I like the particular Kalas mentioned above but have been disappointed with some other models. I have an old Kala KA-P too, which I’m also very fond of. Some inexpensive laminates just work and you have to carefully select replacements and spend a surprisingly large amount to better them.
 
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tm3

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The way it is with Ukes is that price and brand are not that dependable as indications of quality.

The more threads I read about ukes (and I read too many of them), the more I have come to believe that the above statement is absolutely true.

Which emphasizes the importance of the phrase, "Try before you buy," as well as emphasizing (for those of us who don't live near a uke store) the truth of the phrase, "You are up the creek without a paddle."
 

actadh

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The Kala bamboo soprano has been my vacation uke this year. Nice sustain. It traveled in my truck cab on the road and in many campgrounds this summer. I like that it came with a bottom strap button and a slotted headstock - perfect for a bit of Dollar Store cord.
 

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clear

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I’m presently on vacation visiting Galveston, TX. I just bought a Kala Soprano, KA 15S. I’m amazed. It was, of course very inexpensive. But it has a great tone, good volume, nice sustain, and was very playable right out of the box. I have Sopranos at home that cost four or five times as much that aren’t any better. I bought it at a surf shop! :cool:

I used to own a KA-S (which is like your KA-15S, all-laminate mahogany) but with a bit of upgraded hardware.

I agree that my KA-S was certainly a playable instrument right out of the box, and I wouldn't mind playing the KA-S at all.

However, my Kamaka, KoAloha, and Kanile'a sopranos easily beat it in sound, very noticeably. The difference is like night and day.
 

Graham Greenbag

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I’m presently on vacation visiting Galveston, TX. I just bought a Kala Soprano, KA 15S. I’m amazed. It was, of course very inexpensive. But it has a great tone, good volume, nice sustain, and was very playable right out of the box. I have Sopranos at home that cost four or five times as much that aren’t any better. I bought it at a surf shop! :cool:

Bold added for clarity.

I used to own a KA-S (which is like your KA-15S, all-laminate mahogany) but with a bit of upgraded hardware.

I agree that my KA-S was certainly a playable instrument right out of the box, and I wouldn't mind playing the KA-S at all.

However, my Kamaka, KoAloha, and Kanile'a sopranos easily beat it in sound, very noticeably. The difference is like night and day.

The OP didn’t mention Kamaka, KoAloha, and Kanile'a instruments, indeed he didn’t mention any brands at all but instead highlighted the variability of what one can get for one’s money. Here in the U.K. a Kala KA-15s would cost circa 53 U.K. Pounds, a Kala KA-S would cost circa 70 U.K. Pounds and a Soprano KoAloha Opio (their ‘budget’ range) circa 500 U.K. Pounds (so roughly 10 - 7 times more). I’d expect something pretty darn good for that (500 U.K. Pounds) type of money.

https://theukeroom.com/product/koaloha-opio-kso-10-solid-acacia-soprano/
https://worldofukes.co.uk/soprano-ukuleles/kala-ka-s-soprano
https://www.mannsmusic.co.uk/ukulel...MI7tngssv88QIVvWDmCh2liwJkEAQYAiABEgJMLPD_BwE
 
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clear

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The OP didn’t mention Kamaka, KoAloha, and Kanile'a instrument, indeed he didn’t mention any brands at all. Here in the U.K. a Kala KA-15s would cost about 53 U.K. Pounds, a Kala KA-S would cost circa 70 U.K. Pounds and a Soprano KoAloha Opio (their ‘budget’ range) about 500 (circa 10 - 7 times more).

https://theukeroom.com/product/koaloha-opio-kso-10-solid-acacia-soprano/
https://worldofukes.co.uk/soprano-ukuleles/kala-ka-s-soprano
https://www.mannsmusic.co.uk/ukulel...MI7tngssv88QIVvWDmCh2liwJkEAQYAiABEgJMLPD_BwE

I merely bring on the other sopranos ukes because the OP mentioned "I have Sopranos at home that cost four or five times as much that aren’t any better." While I have no experience with sopranos in the 4x to 5x more price range, I have experience in the 10x range, so I relayed my experience.
 

Cadia

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Which emphasizes the importance of the phrase, "Try before you buy," as well as emphasizing (for those of us who don't live near a uke store) the truth of the phrase, "You are up the creek without a paddle."

While it's always ideal to try first, I don't think you are necessarily "up the creek" if you don't live near a good uke store. Most of us don't, and we have some wonderful ukes. There are so many good uke demo videos available to watch and listen to, and they're an invaluable resource in trying decide if a certain uke is something you might like. I make good use of HMS' website and podcasts on YouTube, and Kalei's playing has sold me on more than one uke, lol. But I also utilize the Southern Ukulele Store, World of Ukes, and GotAUkulele videos, as well as other individual videos of ukes I'm interested in. With enough research, I've been able to discern if a uke has the sound I'm looking for. In fact, the uke I'm most likely to sell is one I picked out in person at a shop. These uke specialty retailers open up a whole world's worth of selection. And let's not forget the custom builders around the world. Would anyone hesistate to buy a Moore Bettah if it was suddenly in their price range? Of course playability, neck width and shape, string spacing are some other factors besides sound that can come into play in making your decision, but many reviewers do comment on that, and the info is often available online.
 

tm3

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While it's always ideal to try first, I don't think you are necessarily "up the creek" if you don't live near a good uke store.

You are correct, as I was throwing some facetiousness into my post. Still, the level of predicament, or not, will be influenced by one's belief system. I've heard it said multiple times that even among high-end instruments there is a lot of variation ("just like a litter of puppies") and one has to do a hands on to separate the wheat from the chaff. I haven't decided whether or not I believe that, which is why comparison threads like this really pique my interest.

Anyway, I think it is great that the OP found a new uke that he likes, especially since it is a relative cheapo that beats some big boys. I'm just wondering if that particular uke happened to be a "pick of the litter" and other KA15S' won't measure up.
 

deadpool

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My Kala story is this: Landed in Maui without any musical instrument to play on vacation. Went into Bounty Music with all intention of buying an Islander laminate mahogany (tenor). They had a few. Sort of played them all (beginner). Picked up a Kala TEM which was about $30 cheaper and much to the surprise of the sales guy bought it. It was to me at least a much better sounding and playing uke. Still have the stock strings on it and it still sounds nearly as good as my more expensive uses. Very pleased with it.