Kala Travel Ukulele

The ukulele is already a very transport-friendly instrument but the Kala thinline travel ukulele takes it one step further by reducing the depth of the ukulele’s body (to 1 and a quarter inches). The ukulele comes in soprano and – strangely considering they’re aiming for compactness – tenor size. They have a solid spruce top with mahogany, maple or lacewood back and sides.

To gimmick up the idea even further, some of these ukuleles now come with a compass in the headstock.

I don’t leave my cave very often so I haven’t invested in one of these. However, I do have a Kala Lacewood – which has the same specs as the travel lacewood apart from the body width. It’s my favourite soprano so I have confidence that these will be great too. You can read my full Kala Lacewood review here.

Kala Travel Ukulele Review

I have two Kala travel ukes – a lacewood tenor and a cedar top tenor. They are fantastic, I don’t play anything else at the moment. They are quite different and I might have to keep both. The cedar is more mellow and sweet and seems to suit Worth strings, which don’t work so well on the spruce (sound a bit brittle), which is really grunty with Aquilas (I prefer concert gauge, and I’m going to try a set of sopranos when they arrive) I have had a concert travel concert too, but it didn’t seem to sing as well as all the tenors.

The term “travel” is a bit silly really – they are still too long to fit in a backpack. Slim body would be a better description. For me the attractions are the less boomy, more balanced tone compared to a standard tenor, and just the comfort of the slimmer body (sadly not like mine).

Here is a clip of my lacewood/spruce.

By plink freud.

On Video

Mike Upton of Kala ukuleles discusses and demonstrates a number of their travel ukes.

On eBay US

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On eBay UK

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Kala Soprano Travel Ukulele Review

Models

KA-SSTU Spruce and Mahogany Soprano

Size: Soprano
Construction: Solid Spruce top. Mahogany (laminated) back and sides.
Fretboard: Rosewood
Bridge: Synthetic bone
Neck: Mahogany
Binding: Black
Tuners: Geared, die-cast chrome.
Finish: Satin

KA-SSTU-T Spruce and Mahogany Tenor

Size: Tenor
Construction: Solid Spruce top. Mahogany (laminated) back and sides.
Fretboard: Rosewood
Bridge: Synthetic bone
Neck: Mahogany
Binding: Black
Tuners: Geared, die-cast chrome.
Finish: Satin

KA-SSLWTU Lacewood Soprano

Size: Soprano
Construction: Solid Spruce top. Solid lacewood back and sides.
Fretboard: Rosewood
Bridge: Synthetic bone
Neck: Mahogany
Binding: They call it red, I call it pink.
Tuners: Geared, die-cast chrome.
Finish: Satin

KA-SSLWTU-T Lacewood Tenor

Size: Tenor
Construction: Solid spruce top. Solid lacewood back and sides.
Fretboard: Rosewood
Bridge: Synthetic bone
Neck: Mahogany
Binding: They call it red, I call it pink.
Tuners: Geared, die-cast chrome.
Finish: Satin

KA-SST-FMCP Flame Maple Soprano

I believe this one is a limited edition and

Size: Soprano
Construction: Solid spruce top. Flamed maple (laminated) back and sides.
Fretboard: Rosewood
Bridge: Synthetic bone
Neck: Mahogany
Tuners: Geared, die-cast chrome.
Finish: Satin

6 Comments

  1. Hillfield July 19th, 2010 2:33 pm

    it’s a great uke (I’ve got the standard travel soprano, and played the tenor). amazing value, and the gig bag is great. my only problem was I didn’t like the geared tuners, which knackered the balance of the instrument entirely. swapped for friction pegs, and job’s a good ‘un. that said, Kala, and in particular, Southern Ukulele Stores, are so into making everyone happy, that I think you can order friction pegs OR geared tuners, whichever is your preference.

    perfect for stashing in your drawer at work or taking on your travels. highly recommended, either your second uke, or as a great starter instrument.

  2. snojimbo January 29th, 2011 10:51 pm

    I got one of these travel Kala soprano’s for Christmas, and it is a lovely sounding instrument. Agree completely about the geared tuners. My local music shop supplied me some friction tuners, but they didn’t fit. So they got the holes plugged with bushes to make them work (thanks, Alistair’s Music!). In saying that, I got in touch with Kala and they recommend Grover Champion dulcimer friction tuners, which are available from Stewmac.com. Friction tuners are definitely the way to go with this uke.

  3. kahakav February 27th, 2013 3:35 am

    i think the kala travel ukulele is a great uke. it definently is easy to travel with because of its size. i took it one a trip to kauai once and had no problem with it at all. i own a tenor kala travel ukulele and it is perfect.

  4. Bob H April 15th, 2014 5:10 am

    I’ve had a Kala tenor travel uke with passive pickup for a couple of years and I love it. Although the tone may not be quite up to that of my 2 Koalohas, it’s surprisingly loud. The slim body makes it really comfortable to play.
    My only criticism is that the passive pickup has quite a low output so you don’t get much out of a small amp. I’m planning to get another just so I can have it permanently strung with a low G – preferably with a better pickup.

  5. Lee May 26th, 2014 12:42 pm

    I have the Kala travel soprano and liked it except for the weight at the headstock. Then I found the comment above from snojimbo and switched from the stock gear tuners to Grover Champion dulcimer friction tuners; and that made for a huge decrease in weight. Before, I “liked” my travel soprano; now I “love” it. Thanks for that tip!

  6. Damien May 29th, 2014 10:15 pm

    I have a couple of ukes (one being the sstu-t tenor)and rooms full of guitars. Since I got the Kala, it’s become one of the most played instruments in the house. The tone is amazing given the size. It’s actually really surprising. Friends of mine are regularly blown away by it. I’ve had no issues with the balance due to the mechanical pegs. In fact, I really like the stock tuners. They’re precise when tuning and the instrument holds it’s tune very well.

    Seriously – I can’t rave about this instrument enough. For the price it’s steal.

    Yesterday I rang around some Australian shops to buy one for my boss. Apparently there’s a three month wait on the tenors “because people are talking about this uke and they’re flying off shelves”. I managed to find him an electric version (sstu-te). I’m looking forward to checking it out. :-)

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