Kala is probably one of the more famous ukulele manufacturers in the business. While they have a lot of affordable ukes that are sold under $60 mark, the KA-C is not one of them. This uke sells for higher price and while it might deter some beginners, if you are serious about music and ukuleles, this might be a way to go. Also, this is not just “beginner-friendly” uke, it will definitely be an amazing asset to any intermediate player.
Kala KA-C is a concert ukulele with gorgeous looking and rich sounding mahogany top, back, and sides. I would definitely say this is a more “reserved” and minimalistic looking ukulele especially if you compare it to a lot of other ukes with intricate and over the top designs. Those designs are aimed at consumers who put a lot of importance on the looks of the instrument. While that is not a bad thing by any means, laser etched ornaments and intricate designs definitely increase the price of an uke. So if ukuleles were people Kala KA-C would be that broody uncle of yours who smokes pipes and reads Hemingway on the rocking chair. Let’s move on from my weird need to personify instruments; this uke also has cream binding and walnut fingerboard. While the binding is done pretty seamlessly the same cannot be said about the fretboard. With some of these models, you can really see how frets are sticking out a little bit. This makes playing ukulele a little bit uncomfortable. While you can take it to a shop and have it fixed, you should first decide whether it is worth your money and time to buy uke at this price and then have more adjustments done. It is really a shame that the fret edges are not that well polished because apart from that the mahogany neck is really well made and easy to play. The thing is that not all of the models have that issue so you have to play a Russian roulette with that one, I guess.
The KA-C is stripped off of all useless and over the top hardware that pushes the price up. What you get is a basic yet functional combination: stable die-cast tuners that will keep the instrument in tune, walnut bridge, NuBone nut and saddle and, finally, Premium Aquila Nylgut strings. There might not be anything too special about this hardware except for the fact that they are all pretty damn durable and functional. Take for instance the tuners. While most ukuleles in this price range (and a bit lower) are plagued with tuning problems, this uke avoids this problem. While I would not say that there is some sort of weird magic involved and you won’t ever have to tune it, the amount of tuning you will have to do is well above average. As for the nut and saddle, NuBone is a synthetic material that tries to emulate the sound of the “real bone” and while it might not be as crisp and durable, it comes very close to at a much lower price range.
Let’s talk about one thing that makes or breaks the uke – sound. I mean, yes, hardware and tonewood are both important. Without them you cannot get a great sounding instrument. BUT sometimes even with both of factors being great, there is something lacking in the sound. Thankfully that is not the case with this uke. Actually, for quite a basic combo of hardware and tonewood the KA-C has sound that is well above what it should be. With beautiful lows and great, sweet high this uke met all my expectations and, I guess, went far beyond that. The volume is also pretty good even for a concert uke. The only issue I have, and it’s not as much about the sound, is that the action is a bit high. If, as a beginner, you want to get as much use out of an instrument you need to have full control of the instrument with all the possible comforts imaginable. So a high action might be a bit of a drawback. This issue is fixable, but again you need to consider whether it is worth spending more money on it (in my opinion, it sure as hell is).
Whether you are a complete novice or someone with more experience, Kala KA-C Satin Mahogany Concert Ukulele is an all-around uke with rich tone, great construction, comfort (if you don’t count those damn frets). I already said this, but unless you are sure you want a ukulele that will last you years and are ready to pay over $100, you should be looking somewhere else. For everyone who is in this for good, don’t miss out this stunning uke.