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Thread: Good laminates

  1. #1
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    Default Good laminates

    I have been playing ukulele around 8 months now. I started on a Kala ka-15s, which I really enjoyed and which definitely did the job of getting me hooked, but I wanted to try low g and I wanted the fuller sound of a tenor, so I bought a spruce topped Ohana tenor.

    I do like low g for some things, but I also like high g and want to keep one of each tuning around. But the sound of my little Kala really suffers compared to the spruce top Ohana. I don’t have room/desire to deal with more than 2 ukes. I think I’d like a concert, laminate, sub-$200 uke to replace the Kala. I could go up to $250, maybe.

    What are the ukuleles I should be looking at and comparing? When are you paying for looks without any improvement in sound? What are your favorite laminates in that price range?
    Last edited by emba; 02-15-2021 at 05:30 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default

    kiwaya comes to mind

  3. #3
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    You can get a decent solid top or even an all solid concert for that kind of money. Are you looking for a laminate uke specifically?

  4. #4
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    Surprising that you prefer the Kala KA-15s (their cheapest ukulele) to a solid spruce top Ohana, which should have a clearer and more vibrant tone. What specifically did you not like about the Ohana? That will help us recommend alternatives.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dohle View Post
    You can get a decent solid top or even an all solid concert for that kind of money. Are you looking for a laminate uke specifically?
    Yes, I’m looking for a laminate. Live in a very dry climate and I am somewhat forgetful. So while I really enjoy the spruce top I feel like it’s only a matter of time until it cracks because I forget to refill the humidifier, and I want something that I can travel with worry free.
    Last edited by emba; 02-15-2021 at 07:37 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by man0a View Post
    Surprising that you prefer the Kala KA-15s (their cheapest ukulele) to a solid spruce top Ohana, which should have a clearer and more vibrant tone. What specifically did you not like about the Ohana? That will help us recommend alternatives.
    Perhaps I worded things unclearly. I much prefer the Ohana. That is the problem. I now feel the need to upgrade to replace the Kala, though still with a laminate, one of better quality that is a step up in sound, and also a concert instead.

  7. #7
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    I had a Kala KA-S, which is similar to your KA-15s. For < $200, you can get a KA-SSLNG or KA-SSTU (I've owned both). Either one will give you noticeably better sound.

  8. #8
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    Crazy as this may sound, Kmise makes a model that comes in all sizes, including, recently, a 6 string guitar or guilele, and is made of a very good-sounding laminate. You’ll be able to get any size for under $100. Look for the one with orange tuner buttons and clear plastic over the gear mechanism so you can see them working. It’s no Kiwaya KS-5, but it’s a cut above most of the import laminates. It’s also well built. In general, though, if you want a really good laminate it’s like, laminate, laminate, laminate, pick your price, all about the same, then the Japanese-made Kiwayas, and they are quite a bit more. That may well be too broad a generalization, but you’d spend a lot fishing in that pond before you found anything standout. But that particular Kmise does stand out.

  9. #9
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    This is a little above your price range, but Martin just announced a new HPL laminate concert ukulele for $299. I own the soprano version of this ukulele and that is my favorite ukulele for traveling. Very durable and resistant to temperature and humidity issues. https://www.martinguitar.com/ukulele...ncert-Uke.html

    Kiwaya also makes very good quality laminates in the $250 to $350 price range, but I like the sound of the Martin better.

    Some good brands for laminates in the $150 to $250 price range that are still a step up from Kala and Ohana are Islander, Koalana, and Leolani.

    Also, Romero Creations STL is a compact laminate concert ukulele for $150 that sounds really good for that price level. https://www.romerocreations.com/stl
    Last edited by man0a; 02-15-2021 at 10:21 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by emba View Post
    Yes, I’m looking for a laminate. Live in a very dry climate and I am somewhat forgetful. So while I really enjoy the spruce top I feel like it’s only a matter of time until it cracks because I forget to refill the humidifier, and I want something that I can travel with worry free.
    I wouldn't worry about your solid top uke that much. You'll have to leave it in quite severe conditions for the top to crack, but of course it's always good to humidify when you can.

    But if you're looking for a travel friendly uke and something you don't have to care for that much then laminate makes a lot of sense. Others have already suggested Kiwaya and I'd say that's your best bet for a quality laminate uke as well. The Japanese-made laminates are outside your budget, I think, but you should be able to get their Student series KCU-1 for under $250. I honestly doubt you'll get a better laminate concert for that kind of money. Another great option would be the KoAloha KoAlana all laminate series. Those I haven't tried myself but they are supposedly quite nice as well if you can find one.

    Other great and more affordable options I like are the Islander ukes (the cheapo brand by Kanile'a), which have the same extremely comfortable neck profile of the Hawaiian-made Kanile'as, and Flight who offer so many all laminate models I can't even keep up with them. Personally, I rate Flight above some other brands that have been mentioned like Ohana and Kala, although admittedly Ohana does have some really nice looking all laminate models that were released very recently. But seeing as you already have an Ohana, I'd maybe try something else.

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