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Thread: Makala dolfin weight/string differences

  1. #1
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    Default Makala dolfin weight/string differences

    I now have two Makala Dolfin soprano ukes. The white one weighs 14.18 oz and has black Kala strings. The purple one weighs 19.47 oz and has Aquila strings. Shocked me to discover the difference in weights. The purple one sounds great. The white one sounds muted. If I put Aquila strings on the white one, will it sound as good as the purple one? I appreciate info on why the uke weights are so different. Thank you. Rick
    Last edited by Butnup; 05-04-2019 at 09:10 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butnup View Post
    I now have two Makala Dolfin soprano ukes. The white one weighs 14.18 oz and has black Kala strings. The purple one weighs 19.47 oz and has Aquila strings. Shocked me to discover the difference in weights. The purple one sounds great. The white one sounds muted. If I put Aquila strings on the white one, will it sound as good as the purple one? I appreciate info on why the uke weights are so different. Thank you. Rick
    I’m a bit surprised at the differences in weights. I just weighed on of my ordinary Kala Sopranos, it was circa 15 oz and difficult to balance on the scales - I can see opportunities for false readings. My own Dolphin has been loaned out so I can’t weight it for you, sorry.

    The original Makala Dolphins were all wood construction but that changed to the part plastic body which is standard now, perhaps you have one of each type.

    The original black supplied Makala strings (cheap nylon I believe) should be replaced. Aquila was once the standard change but IMHO fluorocarbon Strings from Martin (M600) or Fremont (their Blackline) are an even better option for improved volume and tone.

    I hope that that helps. A well set-up Dolphin with appropriate strings makes a good Uke to learn on and a nice Uke to take down the beach, camping, etc.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 05-04-2019 at 09:03 AM.

  3. #3
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    Graham - Peering inside the sound holes, I see a difference in the bodies, so I think you are right. The white Dolphin - Not "Dolfin" - may have a wood body. The purple Dolphin is definitely plastic. I am impressed at how well set-up both ukes are and how easy they are to play. I appreciate the string comments, too.
    Thank you.
    Rick

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    Graham - I have a digital electronic scale. By weighing ukes string-side down, they balance on the scale, and accurate readings are no problem. My Kala KA-15S weighs 13.09 ounces. I wish uke makers would publish uke weights even though I suspect the same model wood ukes would vary by maybe 1+/- ounce. So far the lightest uke I weighed is a 1950 Regan soprano that weighed 10.55 ounces. It is a sweetheart. Rick

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    @Butnup. I’m glad that you found my comments helpful, this forum has been a great help to me and I like to put something back into it.

    It’s interesting about the weight and the method you used, yours was better. I quickly placed the Uke vertical (with lower bout on the scale pan and side pressure to stop it falling) and used a thirty year old spring balance. Hence my first result was indicative and my method more quick than accurate - a first approximation. The re-test gives 14oz for KA-P with strap button and strap, so in-line with expectations from your KA-15S weight.

    If one of your Dolphins is all wood then the edges of the back and sides will likely be square whereas the moulded ones are a little rounded. Taping the back will likely give a different sound too. I’d be tempted to look in the sound hole with a mirror to see whether all the inside is painted and whether there is a block at the base of the lower bout.

    In addition to a decent set-up and fluorocarbon Strings I fit a bone saddle too to Dolphins that cross my path, I think that you will find that a worthwhile change. It would be interesting to do the same modifications to both your Makala’s and your KA-15S and then compare them, I suspect that the Kala will be slightly better.

    For what it’s worth I’m a great supporter of Kala’s and Makala’s basic models; the Makala’s make good beaters and the Kala’s can be very practical instruments for the club player. Of course they won’t chime up the neck in the way some much much more expensive Ukes might (say eight and more times the price) but they take a lot of outgrowing and give wonderful value. Player skill is everything and after that it’s a case of what she or he can wring out of the instrument.

    Weight’s an interesting guide and it might be helpful if manufacturers published details, but there is potential to mislead too. Heavy Ukes are typically overbuilt and that seems to make them ridged and hence vibrate less; light Ukes don’t have the same strength and so might break in use (rough handling, etc.) but they typically vibrate better. However weight is but an indicator as it’s where the weight is in the build that matters, well that’s my belief.

    Edit. If for some reason you want to date your Makalas / Kalas then I believe that that is possible. The label within the instrument has a three or four digit number towards the lower right hand corner. IIRC the last two digits are the month and the others the year of manufacture.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 05-05-2019 at 08:28 AM.

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    Because of the different construction and weights, they very likely won't sound the same, but maybe it will sound as good. The Aquilas will perk it up and when you're ready for another change, the Martin M600 strings Graham mentioned really give it a nice new sound too.

    Graham - you got me doing conversions, I do all my uke weights in grams! That Regan sounds nice, I thought my Ohana SK-38 was super light at 11.1 oz. My sopranino is 9.91 oz, but that's not a fair comparison.
    Last edited by glennerd; 05-05-2019 at 04:31 AM. Reason: typo
    Glenn

  7. #7
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    Graham/Glennerd - Yes, I appreciate this forum and your comments. Looking inside the white Dolphin, I see only a 1/4" tall x 1/16" wide wood cross brace on the bottom and the wood block for the neck attachment. Purple Dolphin has a plastic block and visible screw end for the neck attachment and vertical supports inside cast into the body. It is unpainted light beige. White Dolphin is unpainted darker tan inside. Bottom edges on both ukes are rounded inside and out, so now I think the white Dolphin has a plastic body, too. When tapped, the purple Dolphin has a higher pitch on top and a lower pitch on the bottom Makes me think the purple Dolphin has a much thicker plastic body and thus the weight difference. I will probably restring the white Dolphin with M600s just for fun.
    I am also impressed with amazing sound coming from composite ukes and the use of high pressure laminates instead of wood. Makes me wonder if exotic ukes are similar to bamboo fly rods in some regards.
    I know it is the Indian and not the arrow that is important in almost all our activities, so this is a fun study for me as I struggle to learn chords/strumming.
    Thank you again for your comments and help. Rick

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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Greenbag View Post
    @Butnup.
    Edit. If for some reason you want to date your Makalas / Kalas then I believe that that is possible. The label within the instrument has a three or four digit number towards the lower right hand corner. IIRC the last two digits are the month and the others the year of manufacture.
    Interesting this information about the manufacturing date, thank you. My Kala KA-CEM has the number 608, So I guess this means August 2016. Bought it anyways from the local store in summer 2017.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarmo_S View Post
    Interesting this information about the manufacturing date, thank you. My Kala KA-CEM has the number 608, So I guess this means August 2016. Bought it anyways from the local store in summer 2017.
    I don’t mean to divert a thread, and it’s very much an aside and an IIRC. In the case of your number (608) my suspicion is towards made in 2006 rather than 2016. I believe that four figure numbers came in in 2010, but agin it’s a case of IIRC.

    This thread could have been where I got the idea from: https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com...p/t-30738.html
    You might be best guided by the last five posts in that thread.

    I hope that the above is helpful to you.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 05-06-2019 at 03:24 AM.

  10. #10
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    I contacted Kala today. Here is Kala's reply: "5/6/19 Skyler Stover (Kala Brand Music Co.) The numbers on the left side of the sticker indicate the batch number, and the numbers on the right hand side of the sticker indicate the manufacturing date in a Y/MM format i.e. So for your list:
    1. MK-SD/PW 1 311 Batch 1. Made November 2013
    2. MK-SD/PL 03-512 Batch O3. Made December 2015
    3. KA-15S 9Q-512 Batch 9Q. Made December 2015"

    Rick

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