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Thread: Pono Pro Classic vs Kala Elite

  1. #1

    Default Pono Pro Classic vs Kala Elite

    Hi!
    I currently own a Pono pro classic mango tenor pineapple. I have the possibility to trade it for a Kala elite Koa 3 concert ukulele. Which one do you guys recommend? What are your opinions?

    Pono;
    https://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-...gtp5-pc-2.html

    The Kala i'm looking at:
    https://reverb.com/item/13110449-kal...2016-flame-koa

    Thanks!
    JP

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    From an outsider’s perspective, the Koa is usually the more sought after wood (at least traditionally).

    Not being able to hear the instruments or play the instruments—I don’t know what I would say. A local music store recently put a bunch of Kala elites on a huge sale (level 1 & 2). They are very nice instruments—and most people would be lucky to own a hand crafted made in the USA ukulele. That said—the Kala name still represents (for most people) entry level and intermediate level ukuleles. I know about the Elite series...but a majority of people do not; they would instead recognize the Hawaiian K Brands.

    For example, I have a Victory motorcycle that I bought, choosing at the time not to buy a Harley Davidson. Still, for many motorcyclists, a Harley is the only “real” motorcycle. They aren’t right, but their perception is their reality.

    As for Pono, nothing but positives for me. I had a Pro Classic Tenor, which was lovely, but I never truly bonded with as I have with my KoAlohas. Pono, as an import, is as good of ukulele as any other—and your Pineapple will have unique characteristics due to its wood (Mango) and “5 Series” appointments.

    Most people would be quite fortunate to own the Kala or the Pono. Most of us here on UU just happen to have an abundance of riches in multiple instruments. Some UU members seem to buy instruments on a weekly basis.

    So—follow your heart. Most importantly—do you want a concert or tenor?
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    Canada Prairies, brrr ....
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    With a trade of used instruments condition is of course also a major consideration. Otherwise, I think Kala positioned the Elite line more to compete with Koolau than with Pono, so this might be opportunity for a major "upgrade".

  4. #4
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    They are roughly in the same price category, so the quality is likely similar. My experience with Pono is thoroughly positive, so if you like what you have, I'd keep it. New instruments are always a gamble, especially if you can't play them before you make the deal. The difference between a tenor pineapple (rather rare!) and a standard concert is noticeable (feel, sound, volume, playability up the neck), so this also depends on what you think you'd enjoy more playing. If it was me, I'd almost certainly keep the tenor pineapple, but I'm currently in my baritone phase, so bigger and fuller sounding are pluses to me. Aesthetically, I find the Pono more attractive (and I'd speculate it has a better resale value, but that is hard to gauge).

    What are your reasons for considering to trade?

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Perth, Australia
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    Just to spice things up I'm leaning towards the Kala.

    It would depend if you can get an opportunity to play the Kala and you like the sound/playability and which tone wood might suit your playing style.

    It also depends on whether you are someone who buys and sells a lot or if you plan to keep this one for a while. Maybe the Pono is going to have a better resale value as a percentage of cost but I don't think Kala as a uke company are going anywhere so I wouldn't be surprised if they don't continue to get a bit more credibility over the years.

    Do you prefer a concert or a tenor? I lean towards a concert so for two similar valued ukes I'd go the concert but thats a personal preference of course

    Both look amazing and both will make you smile when you play them.

    Basically, both are amazing ukes and if it was me the choice would be about tone/tonewood, playability and whether you prefer a tenor or a concert.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Sacramento
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    Sounds like a choice between two great instruments! I haven't played these specific models, but I have played Kala Elite concerts (and own one) and Pono mango pineapple tenors.

    I would choose the Kala Elite for personal reasons, and here's why.

    First, Kala's koa is great... they've gotten much better at grading their koa that they build with. Koa is also becoming more and more expensive wood these days.

    Second, I love the quality of Kala's UV gloss. It's on par with what Kanile'a does, it's very protective, and I love the look.

    Also, I prefer Kala's tone in their Elite instruments, which to me is louder and is brighter (has more treble). Pono's instruments to me have always sounded a bit more traditional, even their pineapple instruments. Their mango instruments also noticeably sound warmer than their acacia, too. Some people don't like that brighter tone though so it is all personal preference. Of course be aware that going from tenor to concert, you would be getting an instrument that is going to sound a lot more treble oriented no matter what, pretty much. So take all that with a grain of salt.

    Next, being from California, I appreciate the opportunity to support a builder in my home state that is creating great American-made instruments, so that's another factor for Kala.

    Also, I love Kala's wide fretboard and wide nut width. The Kala Elite concert I have is the easiest instrument I own to fingerpick with, just for me personally. The width works well for me in that regard, though to be fair, it's not as if it is that much wider than what Pono does.

    Finally, I personally don't care for appointments on instruments. I prefer to see an instrument made with beautiful wood, and if there is not a spot of abalone or shells and if there is no binding and no rosettes, I'm a happy camper. Kala's design style speaks to me in other words.

    Both great instruments though to be sure... Pono makes very high quality ukes! Just sharing my personal opinion, and I hope it's helpful.
    Last edited by El Viejo; 07-01-2018 at 04:57 AM.

  7. #7
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    For what it is worth the necks are going to be very different. Kala Elite have a flat fretboard with a 1-1/2" nut width. The Pono pro classic is 1-3/8" nut width with a radius fretboard. Some people are very sensitive to fretboard differences, I am one and all my ukes are 1-3/8" with a radius. So take playability into account when making your choice. Just some food for thought.
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields walnut pineapple super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Enya Nova *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownUpDave View Post
    For what it is worth the necks are going to be very different. Kala Elite have a flat fretboard with a 1-1/2" nut width. The Pono pro classic is 1-3/8" nut width with a radius fretboard. Some people are very sensitive to fretboard differences, I am one and all my ukes are 1-3/8" with a radius. So take playability into account when making your choice. Just some food for thought.

    Very good advice, Dave!
    I own both. Pono is a much heavier built. I found both easy to play and comfortable neck profile regardless of the width and thickness. My personal preference is Kala Elite in term of craftsmanship and strings responses

  9. #9
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    Pono makes excellent ukuleles. I have a Pono mango tenor and it is one of my favorites. Very sweet sound. Some people love the Pono thicker necks, others, not so much. The Pono Pro Classics are beautifully built. They have the radius fretboard and a truss rod. I don't know if the pineapple is as sought after as the traditional bout shape.

    The Kala Elite is a very sought after model right now. It has gotten terrific reviews and owners seem to like them very much. I don't know if the concert size is as popular as the tenor size. Kala seemed to make a real push to enter the higher-end market. Their "Luthier" line hasn't done as well. The Elite models are their showcase models to lift their image and to make great quality instruments. They are 'built by hand.' But that is marketing spin. All ukuleles are hand built to one degree or another. Will they hold their value? Who knows? They are trendy right now.

    The real questions are "sound" and "playability." Which suit your preferences. Do you prefer the deeper, mellower sound of the mango tenor or the brighter sound of the koa concert? Which fits your hand and playing style better? The rounder thicker neck with radiused fretboard of the Pono, or the flatter narrower neck of the Kala? Go with the instrument that makes you happier to play. The one that gives you the most satisfaction.

  10. #10

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    I handled and strummed both, and then bought a Pono PC. I actually bought two of them, each in a different wood. I love the feel of the thick neck, and the radiused fretboard does make it easier for me to play. Your hands will tell you what to do.

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