Maybe you are a novice and this is your first endeavor into the world of ukuleles or maybe you are someone with years of experience. In either case, you probably have heard about Kala because they produce, probably, the biggest range of ukuleles on the market. You can find some of the most affordable ukes, some of the more expensive ones, something for a novice or a pro player. You get the gist, you can find anything in their catalog. If you are looking for a ukulele whose main selling point is not the looks but the sound and comfort than Kala KA-B Mahogany Baritone Ukulele is one of the best ones in its price range.
A baritone is a great place to start with ukuleles if you are coming from a “guitar background” or just have bigger hands and find soprano ukes impossible to use. The KA-B has a mahogany body with satin finish and while binding. The mahogany neck with walnut fingerboards is pretty smooth and polished so you won’t have any sharp edges on the frets. While Kala specified walnut as fingerboard and bridge material a lot of re-sellers still list rosewood as the main material. This discrepancy comes from a prohibition on rosewood that was enacted in early 2017. So while the official material now is walnut you still might get uke manufactured before 2017 that has rosewood. In any case, tonally and playability wise walnut is not in any way inferior to rosewood. Overall, there is nothing mind-bending about the build and looks of this ukulele. It is minimalist with no extra design laser stuff that a lot of manufacturers add to make the uke more quirky and salable to a younger clientele. So if you are not too much into that and just want a straightforward, durable uke this is the way to go.
When it comes to hardware, Kala offers some well made yet basic things like chrome die-cast tuners, NuBone nut and saddle, walnut bridge and so on. The action is low enough to be comfortable for beginners, the Aquila Nylgut strings are okay quality, nothing that will make the instrument gain some unreasonable powers. While I don’t have any issue with this features, especially the tuner that finally holds the instrument in tune for a little while (tuning is an issue with a lot of affordable instruments), there is not much to warrant an over $100 mark, hardware-wise.
I might have been a bit harsh with the hardware of this instrument, because, let’s be honest it is pretty basic. BUT with so many (sometimes, it feels like too many) “affordable” ukuleles on the market, the basic, standard quality seems to be a thing of the past. The KA-B, while not as cheap as a $50 basic, beginner uke, has something that a lot of others cannot boast – good sound and tonal range. The tone is pretty mellow, sweet and something that just reminds you every time you play it why ukuleles are so beloved. It has endeavor volume and nice resonance. More importantly, the sound lasts and gets better with time which is not the case with a lot of less expensive ukes.
Kala KA-B Mahogany Baritone Ukulele might not be the hippest instrument with the newest and high tech hardware but at the end of the day what really matters is the sound, comfort, and durability of the instrument. The KA-B has got all three of those and more AND that is exactly why it is one of the best baritone ukuleles in its price range. I would pick this uke if I were a beginner to intermediate player who looks for a quality, “long-term” ukulele to develop their skills.