Kala KA-T Ukulele

With the influence of Jake Shimabukuro and Iz, many more people are getting a tenor ukulele as their first ukulele. If that's your situation, the Kala KA-T is a great place to start for anyone who wants a good quality first ukulele that won't give them any problems, sounds good and will survive for a good while.

As well as the standard mahogany, the KA-T comes in koa (KA-KT), mango (KA-MT), flamed mahogany (KA-TEM) and gloss mahogany (KA-TG). Because this ukulele is laminated (the expensive wood is a thin layer on top of a cheaper wood) the different woods are mainly for show.

On Video

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

On eBay US

On eBay UK

Kala KA-MTE-C Review

This was the first mid-range ukulele I bought for myself (the second uke I owned, the first being a gift). At first glance, I loved it! It’s made of mango wood! It felt great in my hands, it was visually spectacular (mango wood has so much variety in the grain that no two ukes look alike) and when I stopped drooling and got around to playing, it sounded great! I put some low G Aquilas on it to up the volume a little. It had a nice full, loud, resonant sound. It has a laminate body and top but don’t let that stop you from at least taking this out for a spin (especially for the price). I loved the cut-out because you can very easily reach the upper frets and when you’re not playing so high on the neck, it is a very comfortable area to place your pinky and ring fingers when you’re picking individual strings for your favorite solo.

As for construction, it has a good feel to it. Nice and heavy (heavier than a Fluke but lighter than a Pono). The neck is a little narrower than I was used to but I found that it was easier to bar chords with it (always a concern for the newbie uke player). The only two things I noticed (and were concerned about) were the wires from the pick-up were visible (not so big a deal since I’m playing it and can’t see into the sound hole myself) and the sound board was sunken in a little. This being my first traditionally-shaped, higher end uke, I didn’t realize it wasn’t supposed to look like that (the back of the uke is curved outwards a little so I thought it just followed the shape of the back). Ah well, it doesn’t change the sound of the uke at all so I don’t mind that very much either.

The only real complaint I have with this uke is the pickup. It works well as far as it goes but for some reason (and no one can explain it to me) it just doesn’t work with the Fender acoustic amps. I’ve tried a few brands of acoustic amps at my fave music store and the Fender’s just don’t put out anything. For my purposes, it doesn’t change my feelings about this lovely instrument but for anyone looking to perform, you might look into replacing the pickup.

This uke has become my main player/carry around uke (well, along with my Fluke). It sounds beautiful, stands up well to daily use, and wasn’t so expensive that I’m afraid of damaging it. One bit of advice: buy the non-electronic version and install a better pickup (if you need it)

Number of years played: 1.5

Price paid: $330 USD – with hard case and Aquila strings.

Other ukuleles owned: Pono PKT2, Kala KA-AFMT, Tenor Surf Fluke (and a handful of Mahalo soprano ukes)

Review by Roberto

Kala KA-T Review

KA-T Specifications

Size: Tenor
Construction: Mahogany (laminated) top, back and sides
Fretboard: Rosewood. 18 frets (14 to body)
Bridge: Rosewood
Neck: Mahogany
Binding: White
Tuners: Sealed, geared.
Finish: Satin

7 Comments

  1. Bruce Phillips December 11th, 2010 1:34 am

    My first ukulele is a Kala KA-TEM. It looks good, sounds great and the price is great at $120.00.

  2. Bao Tran March 4th, 2011 6:08 am

    I’ve got the Kala KA-TEC as my second ukulele. It is just a magnificent piece of work and i’ve received a lot of compliments from much more experienced musicians about my uke.

  3. Renae January 8th, 2012 1:30 am

    I just got my Kala KA-TEME in the mail and I can’t put it down! This is my second ukulele and is a great step for anyone wanting a more clean and professional sound. The TEME model also comes with a pickup and tuner built in, and it’s definitely worth the extra money.

    Overall, a fantastic uke at a great price!

  4. Keith February 27th, 2012 11:30 am

    I would totally agree with Reane, I too have a KA-TEME, it is a fantastic instrument with a great sound both acoustically and plugged in. It came with a set of Aquila’s and stays perfectly in tune. If I have a criticism, it is the finish around the sound hole, it is a little splintered inside but only visible when looking inside the Uke. If you are looking for a quality sound and easy to play Uke, this one could be for you!

  5. T Gamache May 27th, 2013 1:13 am

    I just bought the Kala mahogany lite tenor-and I love it!! I went in the store expecting to buy the solid acacia tenor, but really enjoyed the warmer sound of the mahogany. I can’t put it down, well worth it and for almost $70 bucks less than the acacia.

  6. Susan Ah Nee July 25th, 2013 11:51 pm

    I was one of the participant that attended the Roy Sakuma’s Ukulele Festival held in Honolulu at the Kapiolani Park on 7/21/13, at his workshop that was held on 7/20/13 I was the person who won on a lucky number draw and received your concert Kala. I thank you for donating this and love playing your Kala brand for I love the sound of it.

    thank you,
    Susan

  7. John Cole January 10th, 2014 8:23 am

    Hi, about a year ago I purchased a KA_ST ukulele. I love it except for the C open string which always sounds almost flat. It is perfectly tuned. The only way I know how to solve this is to tune to A D F# B. All a tone up. Then I worry about bending the neck so I have tuned down a tone, to standard.What do you suggest ? New strings ? New brand.One of my students has a Lanikai tenor with no problems. I am a very careful player and when strumming do so very lightly. But I love R&R and Jazz so when I’m finger picking … well !
    Help please.
    Kind regards, John

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