|Body And Neck:|
For some, ukuleles may be looked at as a novelty instrument. They tend to have a quirky place in the market and they can be seen as ‘guitar-wannabees’. That isn’t the case, though – the ukulele is a fine instrument in its own right, and there is definitely a need for higher-end ukuleles with exceptional levels of build and sound quality. If this is ticking some boxes for you, then the Kala KA-SA-B Baritone uke should be on your shortlist…
Starting with the traditional baritone body shape, Kala uses only top-quality materials for the KA-SA-B. Both the top and sides are made from solid acacia, with no laminate material being used (solid wood is typically better for sound transmission). The binding is made out of maple with herringbone purfling, creating a strikingly beautiful instrument with the rich satin finish.
A walnut fretboard covers the solid mahogany neck, which has exceptional playability without needing any additional setup. What also adds to the visual appeal are the impressive fret markers. Each one has a different style which sets it apart from a typical (and, let’s face it, boring) dot inlay. Another distinctive feature is the design of the headstock. Most ukes you’ll see have simple peg tuners – not the case with the Kala. It has a slotted setup similar to most classical guitars, and that’s something that you don’t see very often.
The hardware on the KA-SA-B is minimal, but it’s also at a level above most ukes you may come across. Both the nut and the saddle are manufactured from genuine Graph Tech NuBone – a top-of-the-line synthetic material known for its excellent tone transfer capabilities. As we noted above, the tuners are in a slotted configuration, and are precise and smooth to operate.
While it’s true that just about all the features of the KA-SA-B are top-notch, there are a few things that we think would’ve taken it completely over the top. The lack of any sort of electronics (either a simple piezo pickup or a preamp system with a chromatic tuner) is a bit of a disappointment at this price, and we would have liked to see some strap buttons come pre-installed from the factory.
The use of solid acacia as a tonewood is a wise choice for the KA-SA-B, as it is very similar to koa (which is widely used in higher-grade instruments). That, when used in combination with the walnut fretboard and mahogany neck, gives a tone that is rich, full and distinct. It comes pre-strung with Aquila Super Nyglut strings, which is a big plus when it comes to getting great tone straight out of the box.
It won’t take you much more than a quick listen to tell the difference between a uke at this quality level compared to many of the lower-priced ones on the market. We have to note that here’s where the lack of electronics raises its head again – with tone this good, it would be awesome to have the ability to pump it through your favorite acoustic amp or a PA system.
The Kala KA-SA-B baritone uke is prime example of how a well-crafted, higher-end instrument will provide smooth action and a sound that can turn heads. We recommend that you check it out – it won’t take long for you to see that this is a top-tier ukulele, and that it deserves a home in your collection!