Kala Ukulele has a few factories in Asia along with a small custom and repair shop at it’s main office in California. The founder and owner, Mike Upton, lived here in Hawaii in the 90’s on the east side of this island, Lanikai, more specifically, which is also the name of a line he developed for Hohner before opting to work for himself. Mike says,
I went out on my own to start Kala Ukulele where I could continue to expand what is possible in the realm of quality, affordable instruments for the Ukulele Enthusiast and Novice alike.
Fair enough. The product, overall, reflects that passion. For over 7 years we have supported the line. They seem to be either a step above or a step ahead.
We are constantly coming up with new ideas and ever-growing innovations in instrument design.
This page highlights some of the models I recommend on a regular basis.
ST & STG
Spruce has been the top choice for acoustic soundboards and these models are better than they have ever been. Plus solid wood tops get better tonal character and increase in volume over time, especially in the first few years. Both of these come in under $200!
The next featured Uke is an all solid acacia tenor. The ASAC-T has been a huge hit since Kala introduced it a few years back. The slotted headstock, mother of pear inlays, and wood bindings are beautiful! Kala has a classy design here. It’s been the choice for many happy ukers. This comes in around $400 once you add a case, a serious competitor in this price range.
Exotic Mahogany Concerts!
Exotic Mahogany concerts now come in a wide variety of transparent colors that really make the wood grain pop. They run around $120 with our custom setup so it’s a great value, but the reason they are listed here is because they sound fantastic. Take a listen-
The next instrument is a cedar top acacia gloss model with a slotted headstock and padauk binding. It’s striking without being overtly flashy and the craftsmanship and tone are seriously good. These ukes are light and balanced. The solid cedar top projects a ringing rich sustain and plenty of harmonic overtones.The padauk rosette and bindings make for a gorgeous custom look. Which is why I’ve been recommending these so often. For less than $300 you are getting a uke that is really nice!
Also great in tenor.
This is the new, and only, pocket uke available from Kala. The thin body seems to have improved the tone. It chimes and sparkles with sustain. A really nice sound! To top it off this new pocket uke comes in at almost half the cost of previous ones. In fact I got one myself. It fits right in my backpack in it’s protective case and I play it every time we take the kids to the beach. –
As you can see in the video, the tenor thin body is not plugged in and is holding its own with a plugged in acoustic guitar. The SSTU-T manages to be bright, articulate, and still have a full sound.This is ideal for being able to cut through in the impromptu backyard kani kapila. Overall the Travel series from Kala represents what, for many people, the ukulele is all about. Bright punchy tones, great responsiveness, and all in a small, easy to get around with package.
Feel free to call or email any questions you have about Kala Brand Ukulele.
Corey Fujimoto- Sound Sampler!