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Thread: Looks like Kala stepped up its game -- neat --

  1. #1
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    Default Looks like Kala stepped up its game -- neat --

    I recently bought 2 Kala ukuleles; and, while unpacking, I noticed this slip of paper in each:

    IMG_1502.jpg

    I don't remember ever seeing something like this (and I've bought many Kalas); so it appears to be something new.


    So, I measured the 2 easy-to-verify action and nut slot height:

    IMG_1505.jpg

    IMG_1508.jpg

    Action is less then 3mm and above 2.75mm; nut slot from 1st fret is 1mm. Just like the inspection sheet promised.


    I'm happy to see that Kala is doing this extra quality check on the USA side of the border. This can only be good for the customers!
    Last edited by clear; 09-27-2020 at 10:04 AM.

  2. #2
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    I can tolerate 3mm at the 12th fret, but isn't 1mm at the nut very high?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by man0a View Post
    I can tolerate 3mm at the 12th fret, but isn't 1mm at the nut very high?
    It would be for me. It would be playable but a bit too stiff up at the first and second fret. After playing it a for a while my wrist and finger tips would start to hurt and some chords start to suffer. I have a slight weakness in my left hand so it would definitely be noticeable to me. If I were buying one from a source that didn't do action adjustments on request I'd have to plan on the additional cost of having it done for me to play it comfortably.
    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!

  4. #4
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    While 1mm and 3mm may be on the higher side, we should keep in mind that these are the worst settings you'll get from Kala with this USA QC (i.e. you can return a uke if it is out of spec because of that slip of paper they put in there).

    Playability is very individualistic; IMHO I think these numbers are very playable, especially with Kala's Aquila strings (low tension). I've played many ukes with numbers similar to these without issues for hours.

    I have no affiliation with Kala besides being a very satisfied customer with all their ukuleles so far (maybe I just got lucky, like 10 times out of ten). They offer excellent value for the money; and they use Aquila strings, Nubone nut/saddle, Kala open gear tuners (which I think are Grovers because their older ukes used Grover branded, which look just like these), USA tech support.
    Last edited by clear; 09-27-2020 at 12:04 AM.

  5. #5
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    I just brought one of my (non-Kala) ukes into the music store to have the action lowered. I measured the best I could with a ruler and it was 1mm at the first fret and 3mm at the 12th fret. It was certainly playable but after an hour or so I could really feel it in my wrist and first two fingers. I could feel my hand getting a bit tired so quick changes to barre chords or 4 finger chords would get a bit sloppy and harder to hit cleanly. The uke was "OK" to play but I wanted it to be a joy to play so I took it in to get the action lowered.

    Kala has been good to me too. I've purchased two and I still own one of them and it would be very hard to let it go. The other I bought on a whim and never really bonded with it. It was one of those "it's not you it's me" situations. Nice uke, but too similar to others I already had and I was playing my others all the time and it started gathering dust. I sold it to someone who was making it their 2nd uke and they were thrilled with it.
    Last edited by mikelz777; 09-26-2020 at 02:23 PM.
    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!

  6. #6
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    It looks like they are stepping up their game to compete more with their dealers. This should have some positive results for quality control and good PR, but it is not a true service like some of the sellers that do complete set ups.

    Interestingly, The Ukulele Site has now placed a $40 price tag for a full set up on ukes costing up to $399. $400 gets it as part of the purchase. This seems like a fair pricing that will help balance their business needs but I would guess that others will not follow suit. Kala will not offer a set up as part of its service and you can guess that most ukes will be 3.0 mm at the 12th, a little higher than most players might prefer.

  7. #7
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    I hope Kala is doing this inspection on all its ukuleles whether it is a direct end-user Internet sale from them or shipped to their dealers. If so, then I don't see how it can be competition with their dealers. If anything, overall Kala ukulele quality will increase, which is good news for their dealers.

    The 30-point QC checklist offers a new level quality that their competitors don't currently have... and hopefully it'll trigger all their competitors to do the same. Having a signed piece of paper with your ukulele at Kala's price point shows the buyer that an individual has taken the time to look over this instrument (and if out of spec, the buyer can refer to the paper).

  8. #8

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    The higher-end Kalas typically have a moderately high action. Some like it that way, others can easily adjust it down with sandpaper. ymmv.

    The KA-15s which I use to teach are routlnely better quality than the competitors entry ukes I've used. . . but there WAS a period with occasional sharp fret ends. These are pretty good little boxes; a few I thought about keeping just for the big volume's sake. But again, ymmv.
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  9. #9
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    I was thinking this might push buyers to the big box, non-specialty stores...since the work they (the specialty shops) typically do will have already been done. Or it might just be kala ensuring that their product is at a minimum level of quality, i.e., eliminating the lemons.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by badhabits View Post
    I was thinking this might push buyers to the big box, non-specialty stores...since the work they (the specialty shops) typically do will have already been done. Or it might just be kala ensuring that their product is at a minimum level of quality, i.e., eliminating the lemons.
    I went back to the original photos and noticed that the inspector does not check the boxes: They all are already checked as part of the printing of the QC checklist. It is a checklist without any indication that set up might be done on any uke that might be slightly out of spec. So it is distinctly possible that nothing is actually done (including checking intonation at all 12 frets on every string) and that this is PR and marketing and not a playability phenomenon.

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