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Thread: NUD: Kala Elite Mahogany Tenor

  1. #1
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    Default NUD: Kala Elite Mahogany Tenor

    I haven't done an NUD for a while, but got this 2018 Elite 1MGH-T Doghair tenor in recently. I've had an Elite concert before, but never a tenor. I prefer wide specs at the nut for playing accuracy (old hands) and this one truly delivers, with 38mm nut, 32mm string spread at nut, and 46mm spread at the saddle. Very comfy neck, with super smooth fret ends. It is beautiful to look at, with simple appointments, and plays very easily for me. As mentioned by others previously, the Grover clone tuners are just ok, functional, but nowhere as smooth as Grovers, and the string posts are ridiculously tall, with hardly any string angle between nut and the posts. However, that doesn't seem to affect sound or playability, but UPTs would be a huge improvement. The stock Kala Transit gig bag is very nice also.

    The sound is, as expected, lush, warm/full, strong and mid-focused. Good volume, and just keeps delivering under strong strumming. First impressions were good, but it REALLY came to life when I tuned down to Bb, what an incredible difference. It came with Martin M620 flouro strings, and some type of silvery wound low G. I replaced those with Fremont Blacklines in reentrant, which was an improvement, but put that same low G back on (barely got it back on, with only 1 wrap). This uke sounds really good in linear. My low-G uke to date has been my cedar top Cordoba 24T-CE, which I still like alot, but it can't match the rich, powerful sound of this Elite. I'll probably try some other strings eventually, LW and/or Uke Logics, looking for a tiny bit more high end sparkle.

    All in all, a very sweet mahogany tenor. It's only been here about a week, so hoping it will continue to improve as it acclimates and settles in.

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    Last edited by Ukecaster; 11-09-2020 at 06:31 AM.
    John

  2. #2
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    Default

    Very cool looking doghair John. Very attractive.

    I think you made the right choice. Any bling or rosette would only take attention away from the beautiful, intricate wood.

    Wow! Those tuners really are high! No break in the angle at all. They aren't the kind that have and adjustable peg? I don't remember who used those on their ukes. I have an older Elite with Kala-branded sealed tuners on it. The pegs are nowhere near as high as yours. Very odd.
    Last edited by Kenn2018; 11-07-2020 at 01:26 PM.
    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

  3. #3
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    Yes, those pegs are tall! I just peeked at my 2019 Elite Doghair and my pegs are a lot shorter and have a decent break angle. Kenn, may be on to something. I seem to recall a discussion of a batch of Kala with the adjustable peg length set to max extension. Otherwise a set of Grovers would probably fit without any alternations. UPTs would be nice but you'll end up with 8 wee holes to fill.

  4. #4
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    The tall Kala tuners are not adjustable. The only adjustable ones I know of are the Gotoh UK700, which adjust tuner post heights via an allen wrench on the back. I see that some Elites came with Ratios. I know some folks have had problems with them. I have 2 sets of Ratios on ukes, and they work fine, with the exception of 1 tuner post that snapped off an early set, but that tuner was replaced by Pohaku. I measured the screw hole distances, and the Ratio screw holes are different than the stock Kala tuners (off by 4mm) . The Grover 9B are off by 2mm. So, I'm hesitant to use either as replacements, since neither is a drop-in. The adjustable Gotoh UK700 would probably work, since the screws holes are only 1.2mm less than the stock Kalas.

    If I end up replacing the tuners, it would almost certainly be with UPTs. Easy to install (for me, done it a few times), superior operation, and look super cool. I vastly prefer tuning from the back, not the sides. Only downside would be filling the old screw holes, although that's easily done with a colored Minwax pencil.

    Gotoh UK700 tuners.JPG
    Last edited by Ukecaster; 11-08-2020 at 03:47 AM.
    John

  5. #5
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    I put UPTs on my Koa 1 Elite—three of the Ratios failed—and filled the holes with cherry colored wood filler. Looks okay albeit I rarely stare at the back of the head stock.

  6. #6
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    That's gorgeous, John. Classic good looks, a great sound, and a neck width and shape you like. It's one of those ukes that you look at and know it's going to age well, and improve with age. I'm glad you finally got what you wanted, in mahogany.

    Those posts are crazy long. I've had three Elites (one from you! and down to one now!) and none of them had posts like that. It's a shame that the tuners aren't all they could be. The open-back, Kala-branded tuners on my concert seem equal to Grover geared. UPTs will be a great addition, but Grovers would be fine if it were me--oh I see you don't think they would work. I do wonder why Kala doesn't put high-end tuners on their high-end ukes, but maybe they are really stressing their brand.

    I never tried reentrant on any of the Elites, and when it comes to strumming, I don't really like the wide string spacing--but for picking and linear tuning, I love it. It's more a matter of my abilities than any shortcomings of the uke. They are fantastic ukes. Congratulations!

  7. #7
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    Thanks! I'd like to see them make some sitka/rosewood or sitka/mahogany Elite tenors. Most of the sitka ones they make seem to be the larger super tenor shape.
    John

  8. #8

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    Lovely! I know that is used the dark filler for a cool look sort of like a reverse "doghair" pore-fill finish that Collings offers. The result is quite a handsome instrument in it's own

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lifestion View Post
    Lovely! I know that is used the dark filler for a cool look sort of like a reverse "doghair" pore-fill finish that Collings offers. The result is quite a handsome instrument in it's own
    I always thought that a doghair finish was like the Kala Elite pic below: black with streaks of white in the pores, like Collings did it. I guess doghair can be done in brown too, with black streaks in the pores, like mine.
    .

    20201109_153013.jpg
    Last edited by Ukecaster; 11-09-2020 at 10:45 AM.
    John

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukecaster View Post
    The tall Kala tuners are not adjustable. The only adjustable ones I know of are the Gotoh UK700, which adjust tuner post heights via an allen wrench on the back. I see that some Elites came with Ratios. I know some folks have had problems with them. I have 2 sets of Ratios on ukes, and they work fine, with the exception of 1 tuner post that snapped off an early set, but that tuner was replaced by Pohaku. I measured the screw hole distances, and the Ratio screw holes are different than the stock Kala tuners (off by 4mm) . The Grover 9B are off by 2mm. So, I'm hesitant to use either as replacements, since neither is a drop-in. The adjustable Gotoh UK700 would probably work, since the screws holes are only 1.2mm less than the stock Kalas.

    If I end up replacing the tuners, it would almost certainly be with UPTs. Easy to install (for me, done it a few times), superior operation, and look super cool. I vastly prefer tuning from the back, not the sides. Only downside would be filling the old screw holes, although that's easily done with a colored Minwax pencil.

    Gotoh UK700 tuners.JPG
    John, you might want to contact Kala and explain the situation and send a photo. They may send you the correct tuners that should have been installed on your Elite.From what I understand, the US Kala folks have pretty goo customer service. And this is quite clearly an error in construction on their part.
    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

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