Makala ukuleles are the budget range of ukuleles from Kala. They are among the best in the budget price range.
The Makala ukulele comes in the traditional wood look and also in a series of pastel colors (blue, pink etc.) with a dolphin bridge – these are particularly popular with kids.
Kirk Shimabukuro demonstrates a tenor Makala ukulele.
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Makala Ukulele Review
I received a Makala concert ukulele for my birthday this past May.
The ukulele had a born-on date of July 2007, so you have an idea of
what vintage my “hatchet” is. It’s a pretty fun little piece of
equipment, and I thoroughly enjoy my relationship with my wee uke. I
have never played ukulele before I got this one. I have not played
guitar, either, so this is my first foray into fretted fingering.
Nice little instrument. Dark brown, pretty wood, brass frets, geared
tuners, just plain pretty. Problem? Reeks of Elmer’s glue for some
reason. Luckily, I enjoy the smell of glue. I think it’s just from
the factory, as the smell has faded. It’s a solid little piece. It
absolutely glows in the light.
OK. Smells like glue when it first comes out of the box, but the
smell does fade. Apparently, it is made of agathis wood, “the poor
man’s mahogany.” It’s definitely of plywood construction, but it does
have a decent tone. It’s not a glorious tone like you would find in a
thousand dollar instrument, but the body does make for some great tone
for the price.
Body’s reaction to weather:
I live in New Zealand. I live in a stererotypical NZ house, where,
when all the windows are closed, you still have doors opening and
shutting in the wind and curtains ruffling in the breeze. So, our
house is cold, hot, damp, and pretty much just a means for us to keep
dry in the rain. It’s not climate-controlled at all here. The uke
has been through all temperature changes and humidity changes, and it
still sounds wonderful. I do zip it up in its gig bag when not being
played, and that seems to keep it somewhat protected. I recommend
this ukulele for travel, as it will deal with temperature extremes
better than a more fragile instrument. It is a student instrument,
built with kids in mind.
Wood with a plastic bar. Seems solid. Hasn’t popped off with the
shifting climate in my house. I know that as soon as I send this off,
I jinx myself. But, it looks A-OK to me.
Outlined with a crappy white decal. It’s not gorgeous, but it does
add visual interest to the sea of wood.
Solid agathis? I think?
Frets and fretboard (and a wee bit of the nut):
The frets are brass, the fret board is pretty solid, with pearlised
inlaid fret dots. I’m not sure of what the fretboard wood is. I am
assuming it’s rosewood, but I’m probably completely wrong. The edge
of the fretboard has marker dots, too, which makes things nice when
glancing down. There isn’t too much play with the frets, so fingering
is easy. The nut also doesn’t give major play with the strings. The
nut is plastic.
I THINK the strings are GHS nylon strings. I know Kala sells other
ukuleles with said strings, so I’m assuming. Either way, the strings
were grumpy little buggers at first, needing retuning for the first
month or so, with piddly poking-around play. Personally, I think
that’s OK for a beginner, considering you have to learn tuning at some
point. A chromatic tuner is helpful in this period. I am happy with
the strings as they are. I figure all strings need a settling-in
Headstock and pegs:
Solid wood stock, with geared die-cast metal and chromed tuners. They
have a bit of plastic on them, but it’s more of a washer to keep the
strings off the headstock.
Enjoy a Makala ukulele. It sounds better than other ukes in its price
range. It will hold up well to weather extremes (within reason). Get
the gig bag and a chromatic tuner. I have had my ukulele for two
months now, and I’ve already mastered several songs. It’s that fun to
play. A lot of instruments can be abandoned, because the starter
model is complete crap, is poorly built, and sounds awful. The whole
setup for me was not exorbitant, but also wasn’t pennies. I have not
found any problem with my ukulele, except, perhaps, that it is only
ONE ukulele. I cannot wait to play it some days. It’s such a
happy little friend to have. And, it’s a great starter uke. Or, even
a not-so-starter uke that won’t be mourned too deeply if it falls into
harm’s way on a trip or camp out.
Review by Maria