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Thread: Craving a Kala?

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by gochugogi View Post
    I see ancient Kamaka sopranos in my classes from time to time—usually borrowed from a grandparent—and those from the 1960s and 70s were not very well made. They made huge QC improvements in the 1990s and early 2000s. I don't think I've ever seen a rough build of an early Kanile'a (company is fairly recent) but early G-String, Sunny D and KoAloha can be on the rustic side.
    Oh really. I bought a white label Kamaka that looks like it had a rough life but sings like an angel. I can only hope that the modern Kamakas will survive as long. And yeah my 2000 KoAloha looks quite different from what they do now and I don't think it sounds as mighty but sure is very pretty. I would never trade any of these oldies for a new Kala.

  2. #32
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    Yeah, I have a hard time imagining that the average new Kala would play ball in the same league as the older, folksy Kamakas. The older Kamakas I've played have had some issues, but their tone quality was generally quite good.

    That being said, I don't know whether I've played any from the late 60s or early 70s.
    "Who hears music, feels his solitude Peopled at once -- for how count heart-beats plain / Unless a company, with hearts which beat, / Come close to the musician, seen or no?" - Robert Browning, "Balaustion's Adventure"

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlin666 View Post
    Oh really. I bought a white label Kamaka that looks like it had a rough life but sings like an angel. I can only hope that the modern Kamakas will survive as long. And yeah my 2000 KoAloha looks quite different from what they do now and I don't think it sounds as mighty but sure is very pretty. I would never trade any of these oldies for a new Kala.
    I've seen many with crooked bridges, bad frets, terrible intonation, messy glue joints, etc. Back in the day, Kamaka had a contract with the DOE and sold hundreds, if not thousands, of rough made ukuleles. They were made in Hawaii but not not their best work... I know in those decades they also produced higher models that were wonderful instruments but these bottom of the line 'ukuleles are still in circulation here on Oahu, many with State of Hawaii DOE inventory numbers.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by gochugogi View Post
    I've seen many with crooked bridges, bad frets, terrible intonation, messy glue joints, etc. Back in the day, Kamaka had a contract with the DOE and sold hundreds, if not thousands, of rough made ukuleles. They were made in Hawaii but not not their best work... I know in those decades they also produced higher models that were wonderful instruments but these bottom of the line 'ukuleles are still in circulation here on Oahu, many with State of Hawaii DOE inventory numbers.
    That's oddly fascinating, Peter. Some of those flaws are certainly inexcusable. I suppose the low quality could have resulted from some combination of the DOE being unwilling to pay for decent instruments and unable to tell the difference and Kamaka perhaps biting off more than they could chew.

    Thank you once again for sharing your knowledge with us. I knew that some of the pre-90s Kamakas aren't up to their more contemporary standards, but I suppose Kamaka does what it can to prevent those DOE instruments from sullying their reputation abroad.
    "Who hears music, feels his solitude Peopled at once -- for how count heart-beats plain / Unless a company, with hearts which beat, / Come close to the musician, seen or no?" - Robert Browning, "Balaustion's Adventure"

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenn2018 View Post
    Ko'Aloha is making the same mistake with their branding. They have removed the Opio name from that line and their new, even more budget line also only has the Ko'Aloha logo on the headstock face.

    Opio instruments are frequently sold on Ebay & Various Marketplaces as: "Ko'Aloha Tenor". With Opio only mentioned in the body of the listing.

    Talk about confusing. And diluting the brand's reputation.
    It seems different to me; I'm not sure why. Maybe because there are effectively just two series of KoAlohas right now: their koa and their Opio lines, whereas Kala has so many. I wouldn't be surprised if making their models similar helps their Opio sales more than it harms their koa sales.

    I guess we'll see what happens with their KoAlanas, but I'm barely seeing any of those at all.

    But yeah, it stinks when listings are misleading. Especially when it seems intentional. I've seen the same with Ponos listed as Ko'olau.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by bacchettadavid View Post
    That being said, I don't know whether I've played any from the late 60s or early 70s.
    I have, just a few. It was kinda hit or miss. They weren't terrible, but they weren't consistent either.


    Quote Originally Posted by gochugogi View Post
    I've seen many with crooked bridges, bad frets, terrible intonation, messy glue joints, etc. Back in the day, Kamaka had a contract with the DOE and sold hundreds, if not thousands, of rough made ukuleles. They were made in Hawaii but not not their best work... I know in those decades they also produced higher models that were wonderful instruments but these bottom of the line 'ukuleles are still in circulation here on Oahu, many with State of Hawaii DOE inventory numbers.
    I've heard stories of kids literally dragging their Kamakas to school, banging them on things along the way. Sounded crazy to me, but if they were making cheap, educational models, that makes more sense.

  7. #37
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    I taught music in public schools on Oahu for a year and most things are purchased by bid and, of course, the low bid wins, not the best quality. The DOE purchased guitars were mostly unplayable. Wasn't a good career choice for me and I moved on to maintain my sanity.

  8. #38
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    I have an very nice 2017 spruce/myrtle Kala Elite Custom tenor I purchased here from a member in Oct 2018. Very full and rich sound. It has excellent projection and is easy for me to play with the 1-1/2" wide nut. Well made with high-quality woods and a lovely rosette, purfling and inlay fret markers and logo.

    At that time, there were four levels of Elite instruments made in the US in California. Elite 1, 2, 3 and Custom. All of which have earned the Elite models excellent reputations for their sound and build quality.

    I understand that the new Elite instruments may be even a bit better. Though I have not heard one yet.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluze View Post
    They have the solid spruce topped, flame maple back and sides concert on clearance fro $209. That's a steal! That is one of their real gems.
    Quote Originally Posted by richntacoma View Post
    Thanks Glenn, also super helpful.

    Now to decide between the:

    Solid Spruce Acacia Concert https://kalabrand.com/collections/cl...cts/ka-acp-ctg

    or the Solid Spruce Flame Maplehttps://kalabrand.com/collections/clearance/products/ka-fmcg


    I mean, it would be rude not to!

    Any thoughts would be most welcome


    Their KA-FMCG solid spruce top (spalted) flame maple is my lone Kala and I love it. Mine is much prettier with an abalone rosette and a more interesting grain pattern than the one shown on their site but with the clearance/sale price it would be about $82 less than what I paid for mine from one of their dealers. It's got a lovely chime and great sustain. I don't have much experience with Kalas but I could definitely recommend this particular model. I agree that it's a gem.
    Last edited by mikelz777; 05-19-2020 at 06:43 AM.
    Money can't buy happiness but it can buy a uke which is basically the same thing.

    Ukes are a lot like potato chips. It's hard to stop with just one!

  10. #40
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    This sale is super tempting. I don't know what to do. I could save a significant amount of money over what I could find anywhere else on the internet and over similar options from other brands. Even if I ended up having to pay to lower the action I would save money. The problem is that the timing of this purchase isn't exactly right for me.

    I signed up for the Kala newsletter/email. In it they offered a 10% discount on my first purchase. (Too bad I couldn't stack it.) The 20% off is what makes this a great deal. Is this discount something that is rare or is it offered from time to time in the course of a year? I'm caught between fear of missing out and waiting for better timing and hoping that the sale would be offered again months down the road.
    Last edited by mikelz777; 05-19-2020 at 07:03 AM.
    Money can't buy happiness but it can buy a uke which is basically the same thing.

    Ukes are a lot like potato chips. It's hard to stop with just one!

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