I bought a Kala KA-SMHGCE-C from an eBay seller the other day. It’s a concert sized, solid top, all mahogany Ukulele with some nice features. It’s a close out, it seems everyone is blowing out this Ukulele. Maybe there’s a new model, whatever. Or maybe, it’s got problems… More on that later.
It arrived today, a nice surprise since I didn’t expect it until Thursday or Friday. For the record, I’m writing this on a Monday. I opened up the packaging and found a very nice looking Uke. All mahogany and a nice reddish color. The black and white purfling with the faux tortoiseshell binding is a little odd looking but I might get used to it.
This Ukulele is very light. I think Kala makes a thin bodied Ukulele, and it’s tone is sweet and not loud, but indefinably hear-able. I hope the solid top will open up with time and playing. The frets are silver-nickel and are very nicely finished. The tuning machines are Grover open back, and have a 14:1 tuning ratio. The jack port appears to be quite heavy duty.
2-1/4 to 2-3/4 Arched Back Body depth, 1-3/8 At Nut
Solid Mahogany Top, Sides and Back
Faux Tortoise Shell Binding w/ Black and white purfling
20 Silver Nickel Frets
Fret position Marks at 5th,7th,10th and 12th frets on neck and top of fingerboard
Rosewood Fingerboard and Bridge
Simulated Bone Nut and Saddle
Mahogany neck, Satin Finish
Chrome Die-Cast Tuners
Premium AQUILA NYLGUT Strings
I have not tried it plugged in. The preamp has a volume knob and treble and bass sliders. the battery is easily accessible but the wiring is easily seen though the sound hole and is ugly.
Now for the bad stuff…
The preamp does have built in tuner. It seems to tune sharp. I tried two other tuners, headstock mounted, and they tuned it the same as each other, while the built in tuner tunes sharp. That may have to do the intonation problems and the tuner being at the saddle.
This uke has bad intonation. It’s sharp as you go up the neck. At the 12th fret my tuner shows it to be +15 degrees. How hard is it to intonate an Ukulele? It’s made in a factory, and they ought to be able to glue a bridge in the right spot. This Ukulele has $479 MSRP. You’d think they get it right.
Also the action is high towards the bridge. It’s 4mm at the 19th fret. Too high. Perhaps that’s the issue with the intonation. Again: This Ukulele has $479 MSRP. You’d think they get it right.
I am going to have to lower the saddle and hope that brings the intonation into line. In the meantime, it’s strum-able. A player who plays up the neck would find this intolerable. Myself, I strum chords at the top of the neck, so the intonation, or lack thereof, is suffer-able.
That’s a shame, I expected more from this Ukulele. Unless I bother to lower the saddle, and IF that resolves the intonation, this thing is going to go into a case and get relegated to to the back of the room.