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Thread: Choice of 3 Tenors: Lanikai, Kala, Oscar Schmidt--Any Thoughts?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Southwest Michigan (St. Joseph)
    Posts
    768

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    I thought my choices were going to be Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, or Jose Carreras...Oh, well.

    I have to agree with most everyone else...you almost can't beat the Kala KA-ST from MGM (and it comes with a case).
    -KP (aka KC8AFW)

    My YouTube Channel

    Lanikai LU-21 Soprano | Mainland Mahogany Concert | 1930s Favilla U-2 Soprano | 1950s No-name Soprano | Ohana SK-38 Soprano

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Orange County, California
    Posts
    157

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    I had an oscar and it was quite..i played an oscar concert last night and it had a lot less sound than my soprano ohana..dont get oscar

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    north carolina
    Posts
    378

    Default hmm... okay the collective choices are clear, but why?

    thanks so much for the responses!

    so far you all seem pretty much in favor of the kala and getting it from mgm.

    but... why? i'm a skeptical person by nature, so please understand i am not questioning your intrinsic value. i just want to know as much as i can before i plunk down money for a uke-prob my only uke for a long while till an upgarde or uke #2.

    i have yet to really get my hands on too many ukes simply due to... well... i don't know. everywhere i call they don't have that many on hand. i've played a kala/makala mk-t and really liked it. that has been my sole exposure to kala. i've played a couple of oscar s. and they were fine. i played a savannah. and then washed my hands afterward. what was that junk? i haven't yet played a real kala or lanikai.

    so i am wondering about about the real preference for kala rather than lanikai.

    is it due to you simply having a kala & liking it? have you played a lanikai and just didn't like it? is mgm such a great guy/supplier and he pushes more kala than lanikai?

    also about mgm. i am closer geographically & shipping i think to ukulele4u rather than mgm. has anyone bought anything from ukulele4u on ebay? good exp? bad? i have heard only good things about mgm, but i do wonder if the typically higher price is worth it? also--and this may not be an issue--but the humidity strains on an instrument from hawaii to nc?

    okay... again i would greatly appreciate any thoughts on this issue. i am really trying to make the best first purchase i can!

    thanks!

  4. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Southwest Michigan (St. Joseph)
    Posts
    768

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    I have a Lanikai...and love it. However, when I got it...it needed to be "set-up". Not just sanding the saddle to adjust the action...but I had to adjust the nut to get the intonnation correct. This is one of the services that MGM offers.

    I'm not saying that the Kala is any better or worse than the Lanikai...but the setup can make the difference between a playable uke, and something that might discourage a beginner.

    MGM is also a forum member here...so he gets much love from the community. I have not purchased a uke from him, but I have ordered other stuff from him and he is top-notch. I have no experience with the other guy you mentioned.
    -KP (aka KC8AFW)

    My YouTube Channel

    Lanikai LU-21 Soprano | Mainland Mahogany Concert | 1930s Favilla U-2 Soprano | 1950s No-name Soprano | Ohana SK-38 Soprano

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    401

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    I love my lanikai and bought it from the internet at the cheapest spot, and then had to go and get it set up from a local luthier.

    It was worth it, but it's simply easier to go to MGM for a set up production uke, which is what I did when I got one for my ex, and probably what I'll recommend when another friend decides what size she wants.

    MGM is a good value because you're basically assured to get something that's playable and as good as it's quality bracket is going to let it be.

    If I knew how to set up my own stuff I would be more likely to shop around.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Portsmouth, Ohio
    Posts
    1,700

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    I've bought 4 ukuleles from MGM...his service is excellent...

    I've bought 2 ukuleles from Elderly Music...their service is excellent...

    I have 3 Kala ukuleles: * Soprano watermelon * Tenor solid spruce top, laminated spalted maple back and sides * Tenor, all laminated mahogany jazz archtop

    The Kalas are my best playing ukuleles. The solid spruce top, laminated spalted maple is the loudest. All 3 sound great in their own way.

    I have 2 Oscar Schmidt ukuleles: * Tenor, all laminated koa * Tenor, all solid mahogany

    The Oscar Schmidts are all built well and play very easy. They lack projection but have a nice pleasing tone.

    I live in Cincinnati, Ohio and have never experienced problems with humidity or heat during shipment of a ukulele. I do worry though about one getting trapped in a hot delivery truck some day...

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    The Bush, Alaska...
    Posts
    16,518

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3nails4holes View Post
    thanks so much for the responses!

    so far you all seem pretty much in favor of the kala and getting it from mgm.

    but... why? i'm a skeptical person by nature, so please understand i am not questioning your intrinsic value. i just want to know as much as i can before i plunk down money for a uke-prob my only uke for a long while till an upgarde or uke #2.

    i have yet to really get my hands on too many ukes simply due to... well... i don't know. everywhere i call they don't have that many on hand. i've played a kala/makala mk-t and really liked it. that has been my sole exposure to kala. i've played a couple of oscar s. and they were fine. i played a savannah. and then washed my hands afterward. what was that junk? i haven't yet played a real kala or lanikai.

    so i am wondering about about the real preference for kala rather than lanikai.

    is it due to you simply having a kala & liking it? have you played a lanikai and just didn't like it? is mgm such a great guy/supplier and he pushes more kala than lanikai?

    also about mgm. i am closer geographically & shipping i think to ukulele4u rather than mgm. has anyone bought anything from ukulele4u on ebay? good exp? bad? i have heard only good things about mgm, but i do wonder if the typically higher price is worth it? also--and this may not be an issue--but the humidity strains on an instrument from hawaii to nc?

    okay... again i would greatly appreciate any thoughts on this issue. i am really trying to make the best first purchase i can!

    thanks!
    In your price range kala is the best. I have owned three kalas and currenbtly own one. They are great ukes for the price. I also own a koaloha and three meles and my kala still gets play time.

    I have talked to ukulele4u on phone and he seemed great. Mgm is top notch as well. You should also check out www.ukerepublic.com he is in georgia and my uke club at school has purchased over twenty ukes from him. I have never had a bad experience purchasing a uke yet. What part of nc are you? My uncle lives in western carolina and all his instruments have solid spruce top he has no problems with them but a little herco humidifier works well. The kalas are made in china shipped to california where kala is at then shipped to various dealers. I think more people play kalas on here and have purchased their kala from mgm because of price and availability. Those two choices will be referred more than any other but there are other options out there as well. I personally have ordered from mgm, ukerepublic, mele ukuleles, and individuals. All have been great experiences. Good luck with you first purchase. If you aren't too far from Atlanta we are having a southeast ukers get together at end of august.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Roanoke, VA, USA
    Posts
    1,260

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    My opinion:

    I have 2 Lanikai's and love them both.
    I have purchased a total of 6 Kalas. I really like all of the Kala's too.

    My favorite 2 ukes are a nato Kala Tenor with an MGM setup and a nato Lanikai Concert from Musician's Friend with no special setup.

    Ukulele purchases in order:
    I purchased 2 Lanikai's from Musician's Friend online.
    I purchased 4 Kala's from MGM.
    I purchased 2 Kala's from Ukulele4U.

    My next uke will be a nato Lanikai Tenor with Aquila Low G strings purchased from Ukulele4U (in person).

    Nato vs. Solid
    I preferred both nato's to the one spruce top Kala I purchased. I gave the Sprucetop to my sister and kept the nato. The nato sounds surprisingly good and I found the spruce top to be too much worry for such a little difference in sound quality.

    I have a 4 year old kid and I love seeing her pick up my ukes and jam out. My Kala Tenor and Lanikai Concert were both well under $100 and I have no cases. I don't worry about them. The nicks are just patina and they are easily replaced. I lug them to work with me. I take them hiking a couple times per week. I take them to social gatherings and let people jam with me with no worries.

    I have owned nice guitars and basses and hate constantly worrying about finish and scratches. I'll take a beater any day.

    MGM:

    I love the setup Mike at MGM does. I have spoken with him on the phone and he is an awesome guy. He really took care of me. I hate waiting for the shipping time from Hawaii to Canada and then down to Virginia. (I don't know why they go through Ontario first. They just do.) This isn't a complaint against MGM. It's just the way it is.

    Ukulele4U:
    I have met Rob from The Ukulele Shop (Ukulele4U) and he is a really great guy. I do not know if he offers a setup on his ukes. I'm pretty sure he does carry Aquila strings if the uke doesn't come with them. I showed up at his shop one day while he was closed. I didn't call first or anything. I just went and knocked on the door. He welcomed me in and took time out of his day to hang out and talk. Great guy.

    Kala vs. Lanikai:
    I went to The Ukulele Shop and looked at Kala's and Lanikai's side by side. I was specifically comparing nato Kala Tenors to Lanikai's version. From what Rob showed me and what I observed, they are essentially the exact same instruments made in the exact same factory. If they weren't branded I doubt I could tell them apart. There are a few cosmetic changes.

    Kala sale vs. Lanikai sales:
    My understanding is that you will see more Lanikai's coming from Ukulele4U simply because Hohner Inc owns Lanikai and is based out of Glen Allen, VA (About an hour or so from Amelia, VA where The Ukulele Shop is located.) Lanikai is right around the corner for service and repairs and whatnot while Kala is not so close.

    The Ukulele Shop still carries a great selection of Kala's and will sell you either. I did not feel like he was pushing my sale towards either brand. (in fact, I think I was welcome to hang out and jam even if I wasn't buying. Like I said great guy.)

    Strings:
    I think strings make a huge difference.
    I personally like the Aquilas. I've tried whatever came on other ukes and purchased some D'addario Pro Artes and D'addario black nylon Ukulele strings. No real complaints on the Pro Artes. I didn't think the plain ukulele strings put out much sound. I have no complaints on Aquilas.

    Conclusion:
    I highly recommend Lanikai and Kala.
    I associate Oscar Schmidt with junk and have no basis for this opinion.

    I highly recommend MGM.
    I highly recommend Ukulele4U.
    I had no problems with Musician's Friend and really liked the Lanikai's I got from them.

    Recommendation
    Take a weekend, drive up to Amelia, play 100 ukuleles. Then decide.

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by josuegroundhog; 07-22-2009 at 11:37 AM.
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  9. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    The Bush, Alaska...
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    16,518

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    Someone correct me if I'm wrong... The owner of kala used to work for lanikai ukuleles and something happened then he started kala? I remember reading something about it but my memory is clouded by my lack of sleep. That could be why the two ukes are very similiar.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Roanoke, VA, USA
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    1,260

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    Quote Originally Posted by haolejohn View Post
    Someone correct me if I'm wrong... The owner of kala used to work for lanikai ukuleles and something happened then he started kala? I remember reading something about it but my memory is clouded by my lack of sleep. That could be why the two ukes are very similiar.
    That is my understanding. I don't know the details on it though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Google View Post
    I'll answer your question with another question. Does it work for you? If so, don't fret.

    LIKE BUTTAH!
    FB
    YT
    CS

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