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Kala Elite Koa Soprano

Aloha! I know this is an ukulele review site, but I have an analogy for you before we begin because we’re going off-track for just a bit: A long time ago, I played my first Telecaster. It was an American Fender of some prestige, dripping with history and heritage, and I was very underwhelmed. The edges of the fretboard were pretty sharp and the whole guitar felt… stiff. I expressed as much to the owner of the store and he said he agreed, but there was something I should know. He pulled down a used Telecaster from the racks and had me play that one as well. It was basically the same model, just ten years older (or so), and it felt amazing. The fretboard’s edges had been worn in by constant playing and it felt significantly more alive in my hands.

It could have been one of those instances where one guitar was just better than the other, but the owner said that most guitars end up like this after a ton of playing, but it’s even better when you start with a solid base.

That’s how I felt when I first started playing this Kala Elite Soprano. It had yet to go through The Ukulele Site’s rigorous setup process so there was still a bit of rawness to it, but you could hear and feel the solid base and loaded potential that the instrument had.

It features all solid woods, including beautifully-figured koa top, back, and sides. It also features a bone nut and saddle and a wider nut/fretboard that makes it a bit easier to fret chords. This is a welcome change to standard ukulele measurements which could lead to some cramped fingers on a soprano model. The ukulele was fun to play while watching the sun go down, or just strumming on the couch. The soprano size really lends itself to happy strumming (though you can certainly get intricate as great ukulele players often remind us in videos), and this ukulele is no exception.


Everything about this ukulele is on-point for what you would expect a solid koa ukulele manufactured in the US to be. I was even more excited about the prospect of what it would play like after it got the attention of Joel and co. for a setup.

But, more importantly, I want to talk about the tone. The tone is musical and happy, but somewhat… restrained. I credit this to a lack of playing because you definitely get the idea that if you played this, it would open up more and more as time goes on and blossom as a truly magnificent instrument. You could rationalize that every minute spent playing this ukulele is a minute invested in the uke’s future tone and playability. An instrument like this ages WITH you, slowly reflecting who you are as a player and, like you (presumably), only getting better with age.

Yes, there are ukuleles that feel and sound a little more immediately ready to tackle the world and sound good, but there’s a lot to be said about doing it slowly and yourself. Personally, I’m a fan of having a special instrument that gets better as you play it, and I LOVE the idea of having one that is made in the USA by skilled craftsmen out of the most traditional woods possible. The fact that it’s ready to be played out of the box means there’s no sacrifice on your part as a player, but it will only get better later on as it opens up with you and only because you were the one playing it.

The Kala Elite Series 1 Soprano retails for $899 and is definitely worth checking out. It may take a bit more work than other ukuleles, but there’s no better work to do and you’ll reap only benefits.

Comments 3

  1. I enjoy watching Kalie Gamiao demonstrate strings variations and different types of ukulele. The kala sound so nice , it’ll make a nice travel ukulele.

  2. Thanks for the review – really good. Your reviews are straight forward and very helpful. Thanks.

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