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Thread: Kala Elite USA and Martin OX

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    New York, NY

    Question Kala Elite USA and Martin OX

    Looking for reviews/advice on two ukes which I am considering buying.

    I'm considering buying a Kala Elite USA soprano or a Martin OX soprano.

    I'm especially curious to hear about the following features. Not looking to just hear which is better as much as general comments on one or both of these ukes!

    1) action height and general playability

    2) weight

    3) overall sound
    current ukes:

    Kanile'a Oha Concert, Kanile'a Oha Baritone, Kala KA-ASZCT-ST Super Tenor, Islander MSC-4 Concert, Wunderkammer "Boswell" Tenor, Johnson UK-200 baritone

    sold ukes:

    Martin Tenor, Martin Oliver Ditson Dreadnought Soprano, Martin Baritone, Ohana SK-28, Ohana SK-25S, Favilla Baritone, Kala KA-FMBG, Luna Great Wave Concert, Mainland Red Cedar Baritone, Mainland Classic Mahogany Tenor, Oscar Schmidt OU53, Oscar Schmidt OU57, Kiwaya Famous KTS-5 soprano, Ohana TK-38 tenor, Kiwaya Famous FLS-1G, Cordoba 24T,Keiki Kamaka Soprano, Dewdrop Concert

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Gloucester, UK


    I have the Kala Elite soprano in satin finish. I haven't played a Martin but the Kala is everything I want in a uke - I've had it a few months and not even window shopped other instruments, which is extremely rare for me!

    Onto your questions...

    1) Absolutely spot on for me in terms of action but I got it second hand from Kevs-the-name here and he builds ukes so i don't know if he adjusted it or not. Action photos (apologies, taken on my phone):

    The general playability has been the thing I like most about it - it's extremely comfortable to play. It has a shallower body than the mass produced sopranos (pic in comparison with a Tanglewood below) and the neck profile is just right for me. After an hour with the Tanglewood my fretting hand hurts, I can play pretty effortlessly on the Kala (maybe that's placebo given the price difference though!). That shallower body is very comfy though.


    2) Very light, well balanced - not neck heavy. It's very thin koa.

    3) So subjective this one! I love the sound, it's really loud, louder than my concerts. The huge plus for me is that the C string doesn't boom and drown the other strings like it does on the cheaper uke (which I tuned to D in the end as it annoyed me too much). Great note separation, sounds like a good koa soprano uke! Cuts through in amongst guitars with no difficulty. Don't have a mic to do a sound sample but The Ukulele Site have them so you can check their vids.


    Hope that helps!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013


    If I buy another Uke ( in this case, a Soprano) without playing it first, it will most likely be an Elite. My KA-ASAC is the most playable for me of my Soprano's. Fm comes to mind.
    Just wish it could/would come with Pegheads.
    I can't play my banjo either......

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012


    Hi Pirate, congratulations with your Kala! What kind of great wallhanger is it in?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Gloucester, UK


    Quote Originally Posted by Pleasure Paul View Post
    Hi Pirate, congratulations with your Kala! What kind of great wallhanger is it in?
    Haha, I always get asked that! It's a Guitar Grip. Not cheap but very cool. When you take the uke out it looks like something out of a horror film.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Midgard, Helheim


    I have the Martin 0XK and LOVE IT!

    It is very responsive to DYNAMICS, as in if you play softly, it has a sweet tone, and if you really drive the strings with some hard strumming it has some bark and bite, as well as great sustain in any level of volume.

    Out of the box I'm not sure since I got my used, but the seller said that no setup work was done or needed, and my unit has great action and very good intonation, only rivaled by my Fluke and Flea ukes.

    One point of interest is that the saddle is compensated in a way that uniquely takes advantage of the Martin M600 strings to provide better intonation. The Martin strings have a 0.034" fluoro C string, which is thicker diameter than nearly every other of the more than 100 sets of strings I've tried. The saddle on the 0XK has the C string angled TOWARDS the nut, whereas on most other ukes with pre-compensated saddles, the C string is angled AWAY from the nut.

    I have tried other strings on this instrument, Worths CL, CM, BL, BM, Fremont Blacklines, and Oasis both 'brite' and 'warm' high-G and all had intonation problems on the C string, so since I was not interested in changing the saddle right now, AND since the Martin strings are usually my preferred, I have been using the M600s now thru 2 string changes after the stock ones wore out.

    I also tried Aquila New Nylgut, as well as SuperNylgut and was not happy with them at all on this intrument.

    The weight is pretty light to me (I am usually a tenor player), and I always use a strap, even on this uke. I also changed out the original friction tuners (which all friction tuners are an anathema to me) to the Gotoh UPT-L planetary geared tuners and am very happy with the balance and weight, which is to say, that I dont think about it, but if you do not want to use a strap, your feelings might differ...

    If you change to the Gotoh, you will need the UPT-L and NOT the 'plain' UPT model, the 'L' stands for 'LONG SHAFT'. The 'plain' UPT model will not fit on the thickness of the headstock.

    Even though this instrument is made of a formica-like material, it sounds as good or better than some of my other ukes, and has quenched my UAS for a good soprano.

    Budget permitting, I'd buy a second one, maybe in the bamboo 'natural' color, and on that one change the saddle since I'd want to use it for GDAE (mandolin) fifths tuning, and with these strings, you have 2 wounds and compensation is different when compared to all non-wound strings, otherwise the intonation is all over the place from string-to-string...

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by Booli; 07-12-2017 at 10:42 AM.
    Guinea proverb: "A cow that has no tail should not try to chase away flies."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    West Virginia


    I also have the OXK. It is one of my most-played ukes, especially this time of year in high humidty and heat. It always sounds great and is the most "playable" of all my ukes. I bought it from Musician's Friend, and all they did was add their box around the untouched Martin factory box.

    Only quibble - apparently I am slightly sensitive/allergic to the Stratobond neck as it irritates the side of my thumb on my fretting hand. At the suggestion of others, I use fine grit sandpaper and 000 steel wool to smooth out the ribbing of the laminate.
    - Laura

    Martin, KoAloha, Brueko, Mele, Mainland, Outdoor, Kala, Enya, Harmony, Tempo, Globe, Shima, Vega, Silvertone, Kay, Luna, Vorson, Drewek, Zither Heaven, First Act

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009


    Here's my take on the 0X Bamboo - identical to the 0KX - just a different outer graphic (neither of them have any wood in the body - the outer image is a graphic only)

    I think they are terrific
    Got A Ukulele - leading independent uke review site

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    Ukes include (!) Kanile'a K1 Tenor, Tinguitar custom solid tenor, Fluke, Flea, Tinguitar Reclaimed Mahogany soprano, KM Ukuleles Dreadnought Concert

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Flanders, New Jersey


    While those are both excellent Ukes, I feel compelled to point out that for the price of the Kala Elite you could easily score a vintage Martin (either a style 0 or a style 1). In fact, I believe there's a very nice 20's style 0 in the Marketplace right now that's located in Brooklyn.

    Martin Konter Uke Style 1K soprano
    Late 40's Martin Style 1 soprano
    Soprano Martin Backpacker Ukulele
    Soprano Uke Can Change The World Flea
    Soprano Firefly (wood fretboard)
    iUke Bound Natural Pineapple piccolo mini
    Concert Tie-Dye Flea (wood fretboard)
    Concert Eddy Finn moon and Stars
    Concert Oscar Schmidt Mousekulele
    Tenor Koa Fluke (wood fretboard)
    Tenor Mainland Mahogany slothead

    "The way I see it as soon as a baby is born, he should be issued a Ukulele."
    ~Linus Van Pelt~

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Santa Monica, CA


    I think you are comparing the equivalent of a luxury car with an econo-box. The Kala Elite's are excellent and punch above their weight in term of cost in my opinion.

    1) Action can be adjusted. More important to playability since it cannot be adjusted, is fretboard width. The Kala has a wider fretboard. Some people strongly prefer this, some people don't like it and some are indifferent.

    2) No idea on weight. Differences should be negligible. I'm curious why this matters to you?

    3) The Kala Elite's I've played have all been extremely nice in tone. I owned several Martins (both new and vintage) but never a OX. But given what I know about it, I would be shocked if in general it compared favorably. There maybe specific instruments that do, but as a general rule, I would think not. But this is conjecture so take it with a grain of salt.
    More an appreciator of the ukulele than a true player. My motto is: "Don't matter how good it ring if it ain't got some bling."

    "Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

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