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Thread: Kala Ukes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Catskill Mountains, NY
    Posts
    4,153

    Default Kala Ukes

    Kala makes a great variety of ukuleles, and my slothead cedar tenor is one of my favorites. I realized yesterday that I have probably never been with a group of ukulele players when there wasn't at least one Kala.

    Do you have any good or bad comments about Kalas?
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    West Midlands GB
    Posts
    1,791

    Default

    I have a Kala soprano in solid acacia. It is a classy instrument in all respects - definitely one of my favourites. I had a Kala thin line travel uke, some years ago, but let a friend have it. It was a surprisingly good uke.

    John Colter.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    London
    Posts
    225

    Default

    My second ukulele was a Kala. It was badly made and the nut was somehow out of whack with the cheap slothead tuners. The strings would break constantly. Ok it didn't cost much but I would never buy another one.
    Kamaka HF-2LD - Kanile'a Custom 5 string Super Tenor - KoAloha Special Issue Tenor - Mya Moe Maple & Spruce Tenor - Pono MGTDP

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)
    Posts
    4,475

    Default

    The concerts and tenors I've tried at music stores have mostly been "pretty good but not good enough to walk out with". I agree the thinlines are surprising. Perhaps it is my general meh-ness of the standard Aquila strings.

    I do keep coming back to the SLNG series and still think it is the best "bang for the buck" uke on the market.

    The u-basses are in a whole 'nother category - really like my Cali fretless.
    Ukulele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Flea soprano, C LW
    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Bonanza SLN GCEA
    Guitars:
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127

    !Flukutronic!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
    Posts
    5,909

    Default

    Hmm, I first bought Makala ukes, tenor, pineapple soprano, & concert, they were OK, but then I bought a Kala KA-SLNG, & I did most of my learning on it, at least, with better strings fitted to it. Still have & play it even nowadays.

    I also still have a concert KA-CEME & a KA-T tenor - along with my solid acacia concert, which has a really nice tone to it.

    Of course I have other brands too, Baton Rouge, Ohana, RISA, & my 'best uke', a KoAloha Opio.
    Last edited by Croaky Keith; 08-04-2019 at 03:33 AM.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    255

    Default

    I have a Kala KA Tenor with as they say the Exotic Mahogany laminate, which certainly does not look exotic to me.

    It sounds OK, plays OK, is well made, was fairly priced so what is not to like.

    OK so it may not have the rich tones or looks of a uke costing upwards of $1000 but it does the job.

    Mine is played as part of a Uke Group where a $1000 uke would be wasted imho since many of the other ukes are $100 ones.

    For solo playing it is my Risa I turn to.
    Col.
    From the UK with a bad case of MIAS.
    Korg PA700, Korg Kross 2, Gibson LP, Fender Jazz Bass,
    + Amps, PA, Boss GT100, mixer.
    Ukes - Kala KA-TEME and Risa ST electric solid body.
    Uke wish list, a Bass, make and model yet to be determined

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    2,748

    Default

    Yes, I've liked many Kala ukes. Hoping to try the slothead cedar top tenor one day, lots of love for those here. I just wish they'd offer wider than 1 3/8" nuts; even 1 7/16, like some Ohana tenors would be better, for me.
    Last edited by Ukecaster; 08-04-2019 at 06:44 AM.
    John

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Pensacola, Florida
    Posts
    952

    Default

    My starter ukulele was a Kala Exotic Mahogany Tenor. I really learned a lot while I owned it. Put some different strings on it and it will improve the sound immediately. I also own a Córdoba Ukulele which I really like. I now mostly play Baritone and my solid Cedar topped Kala Baritone is a great instrument for the price.

  9. #9

    Default

    I personally think that Kala is one of the best, most consistent brands across virtually all price points. There are folks who consistently make great mid-to-high end ukes, but almost no one makes good stuff from the real budget price points all the way up to the expensive stuff.

    My first "real" uke was a Kala Ziricote concert (KA-ZCT-C), and although it is laminate, it sounds great, plays great, and is still with my collection today. Over the years, I've owned the Exotic Mahogany concert (KA-CEM) and the Pacific Walnut tenor (KA-PWT) and while I did eventually sell both of those (they were rendered redundant through bouts of UAS) they were both quite nice for their price. Well made, sounded good, played well.

    My first "expensive" uke was a Kala Elite Koa 1 soprano. Although I now own instruments that cost *much* more, that is another one that I just can't bring myself to let go of. The Elite series are pretty underrated in my opinion. They are very well made, sound fantastic, and cost less than they are really worth. Particularly the latest iteration, with the wider nuts and the new X style bracing, they are truly worth checking out.

    There has only been one Kala I did not like, I think it was the Solid Mahogany Soprano (KA-SMHS.) It just sounded a bit dull to me in the shop. For it's price, I wanted to like it, but it didn't speak to me.

    The real hidden gem of their line, in my opinion, is the Spruce Top Flame Maple series. These have a solid spruce top with laminate spalted flame maple back and sides. They are under $300 (US) and punch way above their weight class. My wife has the tenor and plays it more than her Martin or Opio tenors. I have the concert version, and it is also great. If you get a chance, give them a try.

    At the very bottom end, you have the Makala line (they are part of Kala) with the Shark and Dolphin lines. Although they are crazy colors that don't appeal to everyone, they are pretty great. I always describe them as the "cheapest ukulele I think you should play on purpose." (My wife put a low-g Fremont Soloist on her concert Shark and it sounds shockingly good!)

    A well setup Kala is a great way to play.
    Ukes include (but are not limited to)
    • Blackbird Clara
    • Kamaka HF-2A (Koa Concert)
    • KoAloha Opio KCO-10 (Acacia Concert)
    • KoAloha Opio KCO-10S (Spruce Top Concert)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    I can hear Disneyland fireworks...
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    284

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    I think Kala is a wonderful company that has done a lot to help promote ukuleles. They have the Makala range of instruments for those who don't want to spend much on their first uke. When started out, I asked the guy at the local music shop what the least expensive beginner ukulele they had, he said, "Makala is the least expensive brand that we will actually stand behind." I bought a Tenor for $80 out the door. It was dark brown and had brass frets and looked just like how I pictured a ukulele. The action was a little high, but it was fine. I'm still a fan of the Makala Pineapple as a travel uke.
    I also feel that they have been very innovative. Not that they've introduced new tech into ukuleles, but they have a TON of models in every type of wood and configuration. I picked up a Cedar topped 5-string slot head not too long ago and it is wonderful.
    Also, the first rubber stringed micro-bass I ever saw was a Kala. Lots of people have those now and 4 years ago, they didn't.

    I just wanted to throw Kala some love for doing a great job of providing inexpensive entry level ukuleles, supporting the ukulele community and innovating new wood combinations on new high end models.
    If life seems jolly rotten,
    There's something you've forgotten,
    And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing! - Eric Idle

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