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Thread: First time buyer - Kala, Alvarez, Takamine?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    South Africa
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    2

    Question First time buyer - Kala, Alvarez, Takamine?

    Hey everyone,

    I'm an experienced guitar player (electric and acoustic), but I love the sound of the ukulele and I'm keen to get into it. I live in South Africa, so we don't have a huge variety to choose from. I might use it for some casual gigs (weddings, events for friends), but would prefer to mic it up so not too worried about a pick-up. Budget around $200 (or R3500 here ).

    I'd love solid wood, or solid-wood top, but struggling to find reasonable prices here (or any good options at all). And I think I'd like a concert size. I've narrowed it down to three decent-looking options. Which one would be best?

    Alvarez AU70WC Artist Series
    https://www.harrygreenmusicworld.co....19136433356862

    Kala satin mahogany concert
    https://www.harrygreenmusicworld.co....=1090153381907

    Takamine EGUC1 Mahogany conert
    https://www.mitechdirect.com/product...ogany-concert/

    Thanks,
    Amy

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    New England, USA
    Posts
    3,920

    Default

    Not a fan of guitar companies that also make ukes, like Fender, Alvarez, Takamine etc. I'd stick with a uke company like Kala, Ohana, etc.
    John

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    South Africa
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    Default

    Thanks for the reply. Is the Kala I posted above decent though? I can’t find many Kala options here so I’m wondering whether the specs of the Alvarez or the Takamine are better than that specific Kala?
    Last edited by amecily; 07-02-2020 at 07:52 PM. Reason: Typo

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    Mankato, MN
    Posts
    29

    Thumbs up

    I'm not a musician and just beginning on the uke. I did a lot of research in my price range and settled with a Kala KA-SMHCE-E and I've been very pleased with it. i know that Alvarez & Takamine make nice and affordable guitars, just like what I read and heard on the Kala brand. The particular model I ended up with feels good too.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Honolulu
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    859

    Default

    Yeah, Kala is great for the bucks but if you can't find one that kinda narrows it down to Alvarez and Takamine! I've seen a lot of nice ukuleles made by guitar companies—Martin and Asturias come to mind. I used to be a Takamine dealer and carried their G series ukuleles for many years. Not great sounding but okay for plywood. The one thing I liked about the Takamine design was the beefy neck and wide fingerboard. Very comfy for guitar players albeit ukulele players might complain that they're too big. We keep a couple of the Takamine GUT1 tenors in our office to loan to students—tough as nails and have been dropped without damage many times.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
    Location
    South Africa
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    7

    Default

    Hi Amy,

    I am also from South Africa. Which province are you from? I am from Gauteng but apparently there are some music stores around the Western Cape with better ukulele options. Lock-down has made it difficult to get around to physical music stores closer to me. Bought my first ukulele online from takealot about 3 weeks ago and it is not too bad but also looking for better options?
    Kay

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Catskill Mountains, NY
    Posts
    6,325

    Default

    I would go for the Kala. Some reviews below.

    https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C...sclient=psy-ab
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Posts
    220

    Default

    As an old guitar player, and now a uke player, here's my thoughts: I would prefer a Kala over a guitar-maker's uke like Takamine or Alvarez. Reason being that I never liked their budget acoustic guitars, so I don't have much faith in an inexpensive uke from them (I did, however, like Takamine's high end acoustics). Kala makes some very nice ukes, but I would try to budget maybe a hundred dollars more and look to get something a little better, with a solid wood top. If you don't need electronics, as you're going to mic it up, then don't use your budget on a uke with it because you are paying for that with a lesser quality uke. A Spruce top might be better as it will project more and have more presence, and Kala makes some sweet cedar tops too. But I don't gig so I'm not familiar with your needs there. I just think that no matter what your budget, you should get the best sounding uke possible. Kala does ship direct, but consider that a good setup is often very critical to the playability of budget ukes. Gotaukulele.com has a bunch of great reviews, and most good uke shops ship worldwide. Check out the Ukulele Site (great sound videos!), Mim's, Southern Ukulele Store - there are several other really good uke specialty shops, and possibly even our Marketplace here as it's a good source for some nice, lightly used ukes. Good luck!
    "So many ukes, so little money..."

    Kanile'a KSR-T premium koa tenor
    Rebel Double Cheese spruce/mahogany tenor, my BFF.
    Kala KA-ASFM-T-C flame maple tenor
    Pono MT-SP tenor
    Cocobolo concert #467
    Pono ASD acacia soprano deluxe
    Pono MGS mango soprano

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Bellingham, WA USA
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    102

    Default

    Happy Kala owner here. Two tenors with a Ubass on the way. My concert ukes are different brands that I would not recommend based on your needs.

    My two tenors, one solid mahogany and the other a solid top cedar both sound great. I sold a laminate Kala a while back - it did not sound any where near as good as either of these two.

    You will want, IMO, to restring with something like worth browns to bring out the best sound. More importantly though, it will likely need some setup work. The action can be quite high at both the nut and saddle.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Pacific Inland Empire
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    224

    Default

    The Kala is a pretty safe choice. If you hate the aquila nylgut strings, replace them with Martin 600 series!

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