The Pocket Ukulele is Kala’s sopranino size ukulele (although they do the smart thing market-wise and avoid the term ‘sopranino’). And it’s certainly tiny. Here’s a photo of it next to a standard soprano.
It has obvious gimmick appeal. But with a significant price tag (MGM currently has them for $279) they have to go beyond that to make them a worthwhile purchase.
Size: Sopranino (scale length: 11 inches)
Construction: Solid Acacia
Music: Sister Kate
All the examples are played in E-tuning (four frets up from standard tuning).
Music: Staten Island Slide – Craig Robertson.
12th fret harmonic followed by 12th fretted on each string.
3rd string open,1st string 3rd fret, 1st string 10th fret.
The Good Stuff
Novelty Value: The big appeal of it certainly is the cute-factor. And there’s a lot of fun to be had playing it. I couldn’t resist pulling out some of the old music hall tricks on it.
Strumming: With some fast paced strumming it sounds great. ‘Primitive’ is the word I’d use (and I certainly don’t mean that in a bad way). And it’s louder than I would have expected.
Transportability: It fits comfortably length-ways in a laptop bag. The gigbag is very sturdy too (although significantly bigger than it needs to be).
Smell: Strong, almost burnt smell to it. I like it. (I don’t know how this became an official category for judgment, but it is.)
The Not So Good Stuff
Playability: Even with my tiny lady-hands it’s difficult to play. Fretting accurately is very difficult (even Bartt has trouble keeping it in tune). The intonation test is a bit misleading really. I had to fret incredibly carefully to make the test fair. In real playing you won’t be able to fret accurately further up the neck.
Tone: Compared to a standard solid wood ukulele, there’s not much tone there. Unless you’re giving it some welly, it’s very lacking. And I’d avoid any single-note playing on it.
Friction Tuners: They didn’t have any choice but to use friction tuners on here. They’re decent enough but they’re always going to be more of a pain to work with than geared tuners.
The Kala Pocket Ukulele is a soprano ukulele turned up to 11. All the things you love about the soprano are amplified. And so are the annoying things about them.
There’s certainly a place for it. I think it’s best use would be adding an extra tonal layer in a group. The sound is distinct from other ukuleles and it does what it’s good at very well. But don’t buy it as an all-purpose ukulele.