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Thread: Whats goin on with kala "elite"

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
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    12

    Lightbulb Whats goin on with kala "elite"

    I cant find these ukes anywhere except kala official site, is sth wrong with kalas elite ukz? Its also hard to find videos reviewing each model.

    alohacitystore- nope.
    hms - nope.
    ukelikeapro- nope.
    ukerepublic-nope.
    ...
    stores in EU/UK - nope....

    I want to buy good midpriced uke (spruce top/full koa) with wide nut/string spacing (budget max. 1k$).
    ------ukes ive considered
    -rebel/koaloha opio - 38mm nut but too narrow s. spacing
    -romero creat. - i dont like back bracing
    -koaloha/kamaka/kanilea - i dont want to pay that much. ( these uks also contains shell inlay so its extra + 100$ )

    Kala 1koa caught my eyes, it has wide nut and string spacing which i like. The only video i found is very short clip by HMS on vimeo.



    Maybe people associate kala as not the best sounding import ukes. i dunno.

    *sorry for my poor english
    Last edited by Final_form; 06-01-2021 at 05:09 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2020
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    770

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    Quote Originally Posted by Final_form View Post
    Maybe people associate kala as not the best sounding import ukes.
    Don't know about Europe, but in the US, Kala is known for its good customer service and great value for $. The last few made-in-China Kalas I bought even came a signed and dated checklist, which means people in their US office went over those ukes to make sure they meet pretty decent playability standards. I don't think you can get this with the other import brands like Ohana, etc. Oh, heck, even Kamaka doesn't do that with their US-made ukes.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    CH
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    1,975

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    From what I understand, Kala has started a direct marketing scheme which undercuts their sellers. Apparently, this is why some stores have stopped selling them.
    Enjoying instruments by - Beau Hannam - Jay Lichty - Jerry Hoffmann - Luis Feu de Mesquita - Kala - Kamaka - Kanile'a - KoAloha - Ko'olau - Moore Bettah - Pono - Romero Creations - and others

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Australia
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    The Kala Elite range is weighed down by the baggage of all the free ukes handed out to Schools and Libraries by Kala. And the reputation for being cheap. Even though the Elite range is good, very few buyers will believe that they are made in California, and that makes getting a decent re-sale price very hard.

    The Kala brand has a sales office in the USA, apart from the Petaluma workshop, and is basically a sales and merchandising organisation with a big office in California. Not unlike other ukulele sales and merchandising companies.

    The competing brands in Hawaii actually make ukuleles. The owners of the companies can make and design ukuleles, they are accessible to the public via popular factory tours. Sure, they merchandise the lower cost end of their product range or have set up a factory in another country, but they can design ukes and make ukes themselves and they are not shy of talking to the public. Why would you need to see a checklist QA check when you know that the foreman checks every uke before it leaves the workshop? And you can send them a question, and you get an answer from the Foreman or a senior executive.

    These practices could be implemented at the Petaluma workshop, factory visits, access to the designers, dealing with the company execs and not a call centre. Then the workers in the workshop and the ukes they make might enjoy the respect they deserve.

    I have posted before that I think the Petulama made ukes would really take off if they were not associated with Kala so much. I think a name change would do wonders for the sales of the Petaluma made ukes. How many loyal Californians would not want a well made, great sounding uke with "Made in California" proudly displayed on the label? And how big is the uke market in California?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    PNW
    Posts
    249

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    Kanilea has the nut width you want. With budget constraint, may have to give on other factors, unless you get lucky on something used via Reverb, eBay, etc.

    Kanilea Oha line is Koa solid top, mahogany solid body, made in Hawaii. Concert Oha s in late 2019 was $700 USD. Like many things prices, have have likely gone up. Supply has been impacted as demand on ukes (among many things) increased during the pandemic.

    But necks are more than just nut width... there's neck shape/depth too.

    Kala non-elite has a high send-back rate from dealers who set-up & sell them, due to QC at the factory level. The ones sent back to Kala likely still get sold thru ??? sellers who don't set-up, perhaps.

    Quote Originally Posted by Final_form View Post
    I cant find these ukes anywhere except kala official site, is sth wrong with kalas elite ukz? Its also hard to find videos reviewing each model.

    alohacitystore- nope.
    hms - nope.
    ukelikeapro- nope.
    ukerepublic-nope.
    ...
    stores in EU/UK - nope....

    I want to buy good midpriced uke (spruce top/full koa) with wide nut/string spacing (budget max. 1k$).
    ------ukes ive considered
    -rebel/koaloha opio - 38mm nut but too narrow s. spacing
    -romero creat. - i dont like back bracing
    -koaloha/kamaka/kanilea - i dont want to pay that much. ( these uks also contains shell inlay so its extra + 100$ )

    Kala 1koa caught my eyes, it has wide nut and string spacing which i like. The only video i found is very short clip by HMS on vimeo.



    Maybe people associate kala as not the best sounding import ukes. i dunno.

    *sorry for my poor english
    keeping an eye out for a very special pre-owned concert....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Honolulu
    Posts
    969

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    I bought a Kala Elite 1Koa Limited in 2020 from HMS. Stock comes and goes and I'm sure stock will eventually appear. I had to wait months to get a Kanile'a GL6 and RC Tiny Tenor 6, so Kala is in good company when it come to shortages. 'Ukuleles sold very well this past year and yet production was iffy for months due to the COVID thing, so it's not surprising popular models are sometimes in short supply.

  7. #7
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    Aug 2019
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    Finland
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    Quote Originally Posted by Final_form View Post
    -romero creat. - i dont like back bracing
    I'm a bit confused here. What do you mean by back bracing?

    I recommend you check out aNueNue's AKK2 (concert) and AKK3 (tenor) models. They're all solid koa ukes and cheaper than the standard K brands but, in my opinion, equal quality. The nut width isn't quite as wide as on a Kanile'a for example but the string spacing is very close to the same I believe.

    No idea about Kala Elites though. Don't know much about them and rarely see them available anywhere. I'm not a fan of the brand even though I'm sure the Elite models are better quality than the Chinese-made ones.

  8. #8
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    Feb 2019
    Location
    Honolulu
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    969

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dohle View Post
    I'm a bit confused here. What do you mean by back bracing?

    I recommend you check out aNueNue's AKK2 (concert) and AKK3 (tenor) models. They're all solid koa ukes and cheaper than the standard K brands but, in my opinion, equal quality. The nut width isn't quite as wide as on a Kanile'a for example but the string spacing is very close to the same I believe.

    No idea about Kala Elites though. Don't know much about them and rarely see them available anywhere. I'm not a fan of the brand even though I'm sure the Elite models are better quality than the Chinese-made ones.
    Most of the Romero Creations designs use fan bracing on the back—sort of a quasi-soundboard. It provides a significant increase in volume and sustain but, if your instrument rests on your gut, it muffles back vibration, reducing volume considerably. A good reason to do extra sit-ups...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Posts
    24

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    I just bought 2 Kala Elites directly from them. Customer service was great. The kala elites sound big, full warm with an almost classical guitar sound. There are a few people who have done the Kala Elite tour in California. Just put in Kala Elite factory tour and it will come up. Also, Mike Upton owner of the company did over an hour podcast with HMS talking about the Kala Elites. That said, I am an agreement with some of the forum members, I don’t know is the USA made Kala Elites are here to stay? I’d get them while you can, if they stop making them they’ll just end being collector’s items. People will be saying “remember when Kala made a USA model?!” Good luck!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
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    I confess that I was a little skeptical about the Kala Elites when I first heard about them. They didn't fit with my perception of Kala instruments. But after reading several complimentary reviews about the US operation and the high quality of the ukuleles they were producing, I bought one when it was listed in the UU Marketplace. It's a myrtle/spruce custom tenor that is a lovely instrument. Plays easily, terrific projection and sustain, excellent craftsmanship. All-in-all, and instrument that is well worth its price.
    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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