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Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
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- Mahogany body and neck
- 12 Brass Frets with Fret position Marks at 5th,7th and 10th frets on neck and top of fingerboard
- Rosewood Fingerboard and Bridge
- Satin Finish and Geared tuners
- Pre-strung with Premium AQUILA NYLGUT Strings
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Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
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…for those of you who DIDN'T read my previous review, I will say that I've been a guitarist for over 25 years. I have a lot of experience in the construction, setup, and playing of acoustic and electric stringed instruments. Specifically I am a rock and metal player, but cull experience from nearly every genre of music. My wife and I were searching for an inexpensive beginner's ukulele for a 5 year old girl to use for her first foray into music. Upon ordering the ukes, we had them delivered to us so that I could go over them, make sure that they were properly constructed and setup prior to sending to her. Being that I have given MANY lessons in my day, and have encountered many different instruments, I know that THE most common reason that a student gives up on a stringed instrument is if it is poorly set-up [i.e., physically hard to play]. NO stringed instrument should require a Herculean amount of strength.
The Kala Ukulele arrived very well packed…by both Amazon and from the company. Upon taking the ukulele out of it's second inner most packing box, I could immediately see that it was in fact made of mahogany [intentional mislabeling of construction wood is an unfortunate part of inexpensive guitars and stringed instruments]. Not only is this actual mahogany, but it is a very excellent example of mahogany. The wood is a deep shade of brown with a dark black grain running throughout. The pores of the wood [a tale tale sign of true mahogany] are very visible and clearly indicate that this is an excellent example of mahogany.
The fretwork is EXEMPLARY. I've seen $400-$500 guitars have fretwork not as good as this. The brass frets are all properly seated and well finished. For anyone familiar with guitars and stringed instruments, fret ends [the point at which your hand makes contact up and down the neck] can be a very troubling point of contact with inexpensive instruments. However, these frets have been manicured to a level that there is no sensation whatsoever.
Another point of emphasis: the nut. The nut, in my estimation is one of THE most important parts of any stringed instrument. A nut should be properly cut as to allow the strings to move without binding [binding creates issues with tuning and intonation] and the nut slots should be cut as so to allow the strings a downward trajectory into the tuning machines [maximizing resonance and projection of the instrument]. Again, this instrument is exemplary as it relates to the nut. The nut is a plastic "bone facsimile" and it is properly cut with an attention to detail I could never have expected at this price point.
Tuning CAN be a bit tedious with this uke…the tuners are VERY pedestrian, but at $53 [most tuning machine sets cost more than this ukulele did] one shouldn't expect them to be more than utilitarian. Please be prepared for the tuning machines to slip a bit when tuning…it's very easy to get impatient, but if you take your time it will get to pitch. Once you've tuned the ukulele, as with any stringed instrument, it will be important to stretch the strings and then retune at least two additional times before optimal tuning stability will be achieved.
Upon tuning the ukulele, and strumming some chords, I quickly realized what a gem this truly is. The uke is dynamic, resonant, and truly is the sum of all the aforementioned parts. Single notes sing out and have great harmonic content. Chords ring and project very well. I have played every note on the fingerboard and none of them are dead or have any intonation issues whatsoever.
To put this in perspective, I just bought myself a guitar three weeks ago. It cost me $2,500. It is the epitome of modern guitar construction and is arguably the greatest stringed instrument I've ever played. But this $53 Kala Uke has a home, in my home, right next to that guitar. I'm not comparing the two; I'm simply saying that the playability is such that I WILL be buying myself one once this goes to our granddaughter. The "dollars per smile" ratio on this thing is incomprehensible. I can not say enough about this Ukulele and if you're in the market for a Uke PLEASE do yourself a favor and buy one. You will NOT be disappointed, nor will you regret it for one single solitary minute.
Thus. I began my journey to find the most awesome, chick-magnet, best-bang-for-your-buck ukulele on Earth. I searched on Google, hunted in Reddit, and crept through online blogs to obtain the answer. And after my extensive trip throughout the corners of Internet, it was clear... I just needed to find the highest rated ukulele on Amazon.
All jokes aside, this is a rough estimate of why i bought the Kala KA-15S Ukulele. It had great reviews across multiple sites, it was made by a reputable company, and most importantly... it was pretty cheap for a beginner ukulele. I was looking for a quality instrument that I could practice with, but also inexpensive enough that I wouldn't feel guilty about it if I failed to learn.
My first impression of the ukulele was the beautiful mahogany wood. I picked it up and held it close to my face... and sniffed it. Yes, I smelled it okay? Stop judging. Anyways, I started to play random notes/chords and sang "Riptide" to my SO. Was I off-key? Probably. Did I sound terrible? Maybe. But did my fingertips hurt? NOPE! I couldn't say that about my guitar, Yamaha FG700s, if you were wondering.
I did eventually learn the basic chords like C G Am F and some barre chords like B and Bm later that night. And coming from a guitar, these strings were softer than a freshly baked Krispy Kreme Doughnut straight outta of the oven. No kidding. I could actually play simple barre chords for the first time ever AND I didn't cut through another layer of calluses on my fingertips. BOOYAH! (cyborg anyone?)
In conclusion, Yes. This is the ukulele you have been searching for. Whether you are an experienced player or a beginner like myself, the Kala KA-15S really does stand out among the rest. I highly, highly recommend this without a doubt. Now if you excuse me, I gotta sing a special song to a special lady. Wish me luck :)
Quick note: Tuning this particular ukulele is easy; I personally use an electronic tuner. But the A string seems to go out of tune more often than the other 3 strings. Not sure if that's normal, but just wanted to give y'all a heads up.