Kala Ukulele

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Kala Ukuleles are a relatively new ukulele brand, but have made a big impact. They are a great choice for people who want a well-made, quality ukulele at a decent price. They are particularly good for people who are getting more serious about playing the uke and want a quality ukulele without breaking the bank. I have a Kala Lacewood myself and it’s one of my favourite ukes. I highly recommend them as a company.

Kala was set up by Mike Upton, who had previously worked for the Hohner musical instrument company.

Kala have recently launched their ultra-cheap Makala ukuleles which have become a firm favorite in the under $50 price range (particularly appealing to kids with their dolphin ukuleles). And at a similar price there’s the Kala KA-S.

High profile users of Kala ukuleles include Nevershoutnever’s Christofer Drew Ingle, Michael McDonald (Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers), Joe Brown (Kala have a Joe Brown signature ukulele) and Danielle Ate the Sandwich.

On Video

Kirk Shimabukuro (no relation to Jake) demonstrates a Kala KA-T.

On eBay US

On Amazon UK

Kala Models

Kala KA-S – Kala’s introductory level soprano ukulele.
Kala KA-C – Kala’s introductory concert size uke.
Kala KA-T – One of the best places to start in tenor ukuleles.
Kala U-Bass – The size of a baritone ukulele, the range of a bass guitar.
Kala U-Tar – Kala’s version of the guitarlele.
Kala Travel Ukulele – Extra thin ukulele for when you want to take your ukeing out on the road.
Kala Acacia – Wood from the koa family at a much lower price.
Kala Spruce – Their spruce top ukuleles are some of the best value solid ukes around.
KA-SC – Solid spruce top ukulele at knock-down price.

Kala KA-MT Mango Tenor Review

I recently took my first trip to the islands with my wife for our fifth anniversary. I knew before departing that I would be returning with a ukulele, though not which of the many makes and models that are available of the noble instrument. Seriously, i’ve been bit by the flea! And, in a way not at all unlike when a trip to europe many years ago reminded me of one of our other ‘grand designs’; the bicycle, to which my childhood attachment had been lost roughly around the time I was old enough to begin driving an automobile.

Anyway, after a bit of internet scouring, I came across a ukulele dealer/collector/enthusiast by the name of Music Guy Mic, who has both a ‘real world’ store in Kaneohe, as well as a brisk online business, with a huge contingent of buyers via Ebay. I ended up calling and, eventually, (island time!) spoke with him (Musicguymic@aol.com) directly. He, like so many of the islanders I met in the two and half weeks I was there, was extremely knowledgeable, helpful, and extremely kind, eventually guiding me into my purchase of a KALA KA-MT Mango Tenor.

As a beginner, I decided that I needn’t go into debt on buying one of the superior offerings also available by Kala, or the numerous other companies that he had great understanding, as well as inventory, of. And to his testament, he withheld nothing regarding the origin or nature of construction. While a strikingly attractive instrument with the crazed ‘burled’ mango top sides and back (with contrasting wood binding), they are, apparently, in fact, a laminate or ply. Most purists hold the notion that this is inferior and most pricing of instruments comparatively will wholly illustrate that belief. But one recent ‘perspective’ that I was given was that laminates and plys often fair well in climate changes, where solid wood tops and sides can dry and split. I had never considered this, but it is somewhat understandable. A compromise of sorts, perhaps, but one that I can definitely favor.

Prior to shipping, the KA-MT received, as do all instruments sold through MusicGuyMic, an individual setup (including fretwork, if necessary from the factory) and stringing with Aquila premium Nylgut strings. To my ‘inexperienced’ ear, it sounds wonderful with a nice balance of highs and mids, and has, very importantly, spot on intonation. The new strings took a while to settle in, but the sealed gear tuning machines work wonderfully, and similarly to the ‘notion’ of many of the ‘top end’ makers, seem to be found on nearly everything considered to be of professional grade/quality/performance.

The instrument I purchased came as part of a ‘package’, by design, for the beginner who may wish to ‘hit the ground running’, i.e., accompanied with a hard-case, pitch-pipe, and the brilliant “Discovering The Ukulele” book by Herb Ohta J. & Daniel Ho. All for a price that was $100.00 less than any other resource I had theretofore come across, and, (here’s the kicker) free shipping. I was staying in Volcano Village on the big island for the first week, and made arrangements to receive it there during our stay at a bed and breakfast. in lieu of making a ‘preemptive’ purchase (in ignorance) and lugging it along, I decided it best to make my pilgrimage and see and speak to people who have generations of understanding with the native instrument. With the option available to me to actually travel to Hawaii, the decision was nearly a no-brainer. For anyone else, I would recommend relying on the help of the many knowledgeable and experienced people out there. The internet is an amazing resource, and the ukulele community seem to be all fine and welcoming. I can’t believe that it took me 42 years to get into it, but I’m admittedly obsessed.

As I had said in an email to Musicguymic following my return from the islands: “Just wanted to thank you , again, for making my ‘island experience’ complete. My purchase kept music in my hands (as well as my head) during my two weeks in Hawaii.”

Review by Jason

KALA Kiwi Review

The Kala Kiwi is a member of the Kala Novelty series, and is essentially the ‘sister’ model to the Pineapple Uke. Aside from being cute as a neon green ukulele could possibly be, it is seriously fun to play. The Kiwi is a soprano sized Uke, measuring in at a petite 21 inches. It comes with geared chrome tuners with pearly white knobs, and a rosewood fingerboard. The fret wires are finished smoothly, and did not require any fine tuning with a file to make them less ‘catchy’ and more functional. The Kiwi’s finish is a glossy nearly neon kiwi green, with a rather neat silk screen of the interior of a kiwi. Where the white center would be rests the sound hole. Pearly green binding completes the rather neat design.

This Uke is just plain fun to play. It attracts people, and will draw many comments before you even strum a note. Once you begin to play, you can appreciate the rather decent sound it puts out. The Kiwi sounds best at moderate volume– I’ve noticed that if you go too loudly, there is a generalized buzz. The stock GHS strings have a pleasant sound, but make sure to look at how they’re attached before you initially tune the instrument. Unfortunately, my A string was attached incorrectly at the tuner and popped out during my initial tuning. On a brighter note, this Ukulele is incredibly easy to string (I managed to do it in under 10 minutes after I got some replacement strings, and I never did it before on any stringed instrument). The Kiwi stays in tune rather well, from what I’ve read about other Ukuleles daily re-tunings are the norm, but this model will take some rather harsh playing without dropping out of tune. The tuners are in a fairly standard position for geared tuners, but I tend to notice they seem to get in the way while attempting some chords. Odds are this is due to my inexperience, but its really nothing that can’t be fixed by changing the position of your hand by a few millimeters. The Kiwi’s finish is very, VERY glossy and slick, a firm grasp is important if you’re standing as this Uke can slide around on you if you’re not careful. I’ve remedied this by putting a small square of foam tape on the bottom of the Kiwi.

As for durability, I will let the reader know, I am a klutz– I admit it, I’ve dropped my Kiwi. Aside from a teensy little dent up near the tuning pegs (it actually got the dent when I tried to catch it and ended up slamming into a wooden kitchen chair between the tuning pegs), it survived without injury. Other minor bumps have not dented or dulled the Kiwi. This instrument is indeed klutz friendly.

The Kiwi is a reasonably priced Uke, retailing for between $73 and $78 on E-Bay. I’d recommend this Uke for other beginners, as it is a fun, cute, and easy to play. For the advanced Ukeist, this is an awesome addition worthy of any collection.

Review by Barbara.

Kala KA-T Ukulele Video Review

Review by Donald C.

Kala Ukulele Review

I have just recently purchased a Kala solid mahagony electric/acoustic concert Ukulele with cutaway and it is glorious. The tone is bright like a Uke should be but it has a warmth to it that is rare in the few ukes I have played.

It came with ghs strings that for the time being sound quite lovely, I have been recommended the Aquila strings and would love to read if anyone has feed back on those.

The factory set up for this particular Kala is fantastic the action makes playing up the fretboard smooth and easy and yet there is no fret buzz to speak of. All in all a terrific buy and a beautiful matte finish makes the wood stand out. It has faux tortoise shell accents and I got a great 1920’s looking tweed hard case from Ukulele World to keep it protected.

I have been in transit since I bought this Uke and have not had a chance to really plug it in and “rock out” but the electronics work very well for recording purposes on my Mac. It could put out more sound unplugged but that might mess with the lovely tone so for me I would rather sacrifice some noise for some beauty.

Anyway that is my review I know it’s glowing but I am so happy with the Kala Ukulele and it is a great solid instrument for the price.

Review by Denny Paschall.


  1. Lynne Marie Hoyt January 29th, 2013 11:25 pm

    I just brought home my Kala KA- 8. I am so in love! It has the sweetest voice; volume like crazy and sustain you just can’t believe. Intonation is spot on all the way down the neck. The G strings are high/low (wound string), C’s are high/low and E and A are just doubled. If you’ve never seen or played an 8 string ukulele – go find a Kala KA-8. I was very interested in acquiring a Ohana Tiple, but you just can’t find one anywhere… I stumbled across the Kala KA-8 by accident… or so I thought. Now I say, “Who needs a Tiple?” Was it a match made in heaven? Very possibly… I’m so happy I MUST be in heaven! Thank you, Kala!!!!

  2. tony February 13th, 2013 11:35 pm

    kala concert in tune on open strings sounds shit on chords

  3. Peter Griffith April 9th, 2013 9:12 pm

    I first purchased a KA-MT and was really happy. Purchased a KA-GATG-CT after a week. Wow, I love the sound of the Cedar top. The sound difference is big. The priving on both was great for what you get. I’m impressed with the brand. Great value. It’s also great that they are a Petaluma based company!

  4. Sandy April 19th, 2013 10:21 pm

    Thanks Matt for your comment about tightening the screws of the pegs. It seemed to help a lot!!

  5. Stu_not_who April 29th, 2013 6:44 am

    Have just acquired a KA-STE-C (to replace an anuenue tenor that had developed some problems) and I am absolutely delighted with this uke. Build quality and finish are exceptional I just love the crisp, clear tone of the sitka top and the volume and projection out of it is superb, even unplugged. Plugged it plays clean and true. The action is a smidgeon higher than the anuenue so brain and fingers have a little adjusting to do, maybe I’ll have it lowered a bit but I’ll give it some time before deciding. Overall I’m happy as a pup with two tails…two thumbs up Kala!

  6. Esther October 16th, 2013 3:14 am

    Brand new ukulele player here. I just got a Kala KA-CG a couple of weeks ago and it’s absolutely wonderful. I did my research first, and lucked out on a hardly used one on craigslist. Paid $85 including hard case, clip-on tuner, strap, and Aquila strings. This thing is the shiz. It stays in tune like crazy and has a great look and sound. Couldn’t be more pleased.

  7. Ronaldo October 19th, 2013 3:02 am

    After two years with a concert sized Lanikai starter, I decided it was time to upgrade. I scouted the Uke dealers in my area and narrowed my choices down to the Ibanez UEW30RWE (Rosewood with a pick-up), the Luna High Tide (Koa with a pick up) and the Kala Spruce top flame maple. I was leaning towards the Ibanez when my birthday came up and my wife got me the Kala. I played the Kala for several hours last night and I’m liking it a lot. Today I went back into the shop and played the Ibanez again, this time with an amp. I don’t foresee me having much opportunity to plug in on my own, but I do like having the option. The action on the Ibanez works for me. It seems like some of the chords I often have problems with don’t buzz like they do on other models. The drawback is that without the pick-up it’s not very loud. I suspect the Luna is going to have the same issue. All three are gorgeous instruments. In order of aesthetic preference I’d rank them 1.Ibanez, 2.Luna, 3. Kala, but my bonding session with the Kala last night has me thinking I’m likely to stick with the flaming Maple and maybe pick up something with a pick-up a couple of years down the line. I’m told I have a couple of weeks to return the Kala if I change my mind, so I thought I ‘d throw my situation out there and see if anyone had a strong argument for going in a different direction.

  8. Ronaldo November 25th, 2013 9:47 pm

    Well, it’s a month later and I just wanted everyone to know that the only way I’m parting with my Kala is if someone pries it out of my cold dead fingers. I just love this instrument. I’m still a novice player so you should probably take into account that the five stars I give it in every category may not mean as much as it might from someone who’s played on more ukuleles. Still, this is a real instrument compared to the toy I was banging on two months ago and I am very, very happy with it.

  9. Bob Baxter May 24th, 2014 2:16 am

    I just purchased a Kala KA-SMHGS and I just got to say it is one of the sweetest ukes I have ever played. Beautiful tone, great sound projection and beautiful craftsmanship. Plays beautifully. The best money I ever spent on a uke. This baby will be going everywhere with me!

  10. Scott Melick July 29th, 2014 3:24 am

    I just bought a kaka U-Bass. I have been playing upright bass for longer than I care to reveal but arthritis has invaded my body and it became painful to play my upright. Thanks to the Kala Bass I plan on playing for a while. Thanks to the Kala I have added years to the time I will be able to play.

  11. François August 17th, 2014 4:30 am

    Just got a KA-S and I am very pleased. Very nice construction, low action and all the frets are carefully polished. Very good intonation and overall sound. Hard to get more uke for that price point.

  12. Kok September 3rd, 2014 8:00 am

    Hands down the Kala SLNG soprano solid spruce top or mahogany wins hands down over every other more expensive ukuleles I played at a well known string shop in Santa Monica. Once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. It has a beautiful and well balance tone that’s smooth and bell like when finger picked. The volume of this soprano rivals even the concerts and tenors I played. Action on the strings was just right and the long neck makes it easier to finger while making the string tension just right for a soprano. Best of all it’s reasonably priced and extremely well made.

  13. Adrian October 28th, 2014 6:06 am

    i’m lookin at the kala asac tenor , im mostly a fingerstyle/melody strumming player is this a good uke?

  14. sal April 8th, 2015 10:03 pm

    I bought a tenor and concert kala about ten years ago.
    I do a lot of picking by reading notes which is the best way to play. I find that the stings are important but I think the the instrument produces a twangy sound wih certain notes. I’ll probably change strings bumbye. Once in awhile I’ll push the sound through my mini P.A. All in all, this Concert Uke is a good uke. There are just too many Ukes coming into the Markets so It’s really hard to make a choice. So if you pick n’ read you’ve got it made. Understand scales and chords….life is more than changalang

  15. Jenna December 30th, 2015 4:21 pm

    I recently got a tenor Kala ukulele (KA-T) for Christmas and i instantly fell in love with it. The sound is just beautiful, the nut is perfectly sized and i can’t stop playing it. i highly recommend this ukulele, $95 is completely worth it. if you are just getting more advanced with playing ukulele and you need a good quality uke this is for you.

  16. Keoni June 7th, 2016 7:02 pm

    I bought the Kala KA-ASAC T Tenor as my first ukulele and I love it more than I can describe. I played around with guitar for several years before discovering ukulele, and lets just say I fell in love hard. The ASAC is solid Acacia wood and a gorgeous dark brown with beautiful inlays in the neck. It sounds wonderful and holds its tune spot on. I paid $250 for mine, I found it on Ebay after doing a bunch or research on which uke I wanted. You will not regret buying a Kala I have played several others as well and they have all been great quality. One last thing to take into consideration if you’re buying your first uke like I was, is whether you will want to be able to plug it in. I was so enamored with my uke that I did not really consider this. I have since had a pickup installed but it cost me $150 for the pickup (aloha twin passive) and installation. So just be aware and factor that in if you think you might want to jam with your friends who play guitar. You might want a little more volume.

  17. Mark June 21st, 2016 11:00 pm

    Has anyone had any experience with the Kala mahogany tenor scallop cutaway? Thanks. Mark

  18. Steve Drake August 1st, 2016 12:03 am

    Have bought 6 Kala ukes for myself and family because they are great value at the entry or medium priced instrument level. You can spend $1500 on a more elaborate decorated instrument buy may be shocked a $100 to $300 Kala sounds better and plays easier. Always select your instruments for contention to buy in a blind only when you have 2 or 3 in the running by sound you then look at their visual quality. I like the solid wood Kalas but the lower cost instruments have great sound for 1/2 the price. I advise buying the $125 level to start even for kids. If they loose interest someone else may love it. Aloha

  19. Alicia Jennische September 23rd, 2016 2:07 am

    Has anyone been able to figure out what the most updated Kala Kiwi Uke looks like? I’ve seen two versions, one where the kiwi center is just around the sound hole and one that has the kiwi center extended down past the sound hole and has a larger detailing to it. I really want the later one but have no clue if its an old style or new and hard to find. If anyone can shed any light on this it will be MUCH appreciated.
    Thank you.

  20. Chuck Lee December 28th, 2016 9:31 pm

    Purchased a Kala SHMS this fall at Fan Guitar and Ukulele in Richmond, VA. The best part was the available inventory of ukuleles to try out. From $50 pineapples to $1200 Kanile’as the solid mahogany Kala sounds perfect to me. No other soprano uke I played that night had the tone and complex voicing of the Kala. The spruce and cedar tops have more volume but to me they’re not as balanced as this Kala SMHS. I’m still not crazy about the friction tuners but the Aquila strings stay in tune very well and I don’t have to mess with it very often. Gotoh or Pegheads would be a nice upgrade. The string action was a smidge high so I lowered the nut slots to fret height when I got it home. Saddle height is perfect from the factory and intonation up the neck is very good. I love my solid top Fender Nohea Tenor from HMS with low G tuning for playing Brudda Iz style songs but for the fun sing-along classic tunes that plead for that “ukulele sound” the Kala SMHS is the perfect sounding instrument to me!

  21. Brian West March 18th, 2017 12:15 pm

    I live in Spain but on a recent visit to Britain went to Forthye’s, the longest established music shop in Manchester. I have a Martin O soprano at home but wanted something more serious and asked to be shown only Concert models. I avoided cutaways, pickups, pineapple-shapes or garish coloured ones and quickly decided on three I liked visually, now to try them out. I must have taken an hour: two were Kalas and the other a Cahalvo. I finally settled on a KALA KA-BCD at just over 200 pounds. For me it was the best: decorative but sober, perfect harmonics, perfect pitch on the twelfths and beyond, bright tone and responsive for melody work. Pricewise and for my needs – to improve melody – I KNOW I made the best choice of all the Concerts in the shop! A bargain, and at a spot on price!

  22. Cindy Welsh April 7th, 2018 5:03 am


    Kala truly makes good ukuleles I’ll give them that. But their service and support has to be the worst in the industry, so unless you just have to buy a Kala, stay away from them, because when you need their help, you might get the around like I did. Kala will blame you for their mistakes, and then make more excuses about why they don’t help you when they screw up! I’ll never buy Kala again!


  23. Nikky March 5th, 2020 8:59 pm

    I LOVE KALA UKULELES! I own six as I am an avid collector and each one has been a wonderful experience for me. I’ve interacted with their customer service many times over the years and had nothing but a wonderful and super informative experience. They also are one of the few brands that offers helpful tips and information on their social media. I also feel good knowing these guys are EXPERTS! Flight ukuleles are owned and run by a rich Russian family that know nothing of the ukulele or the culture behind it. While most other companies are owned by Chinese companies like Donner that can’t even give you customer service because they pump all their responses through an online translator. Kala has GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE, they have sent me parts for free that I accidentally broke just to get me back up and running on my KA-SMHT. The ukuleles speak for themselves, ask anyone and even their biggest critics would be hard pressed to say they don’t make good instruments. I CAN’T RECOMMEND THIS BRAND ENOUGH! I especially love their Pacific Walnut line.

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