|Body And Neck:
A soprano ukulele is always seen as the best ukulele size for travel, but why should soprano players get all the fun!? This delightful tenor sized ukulele from Kala has been specifically designed for travel, allowing tenor ukulelists to enjoy their playing on the go. Featuring highly in our chart on the top tenor ukuleles, the KASSTU-TE has a mid-range price of around $300 – but is it worth the cash?
Viewed from the front, this tenor ukulele is pretty traditional in its appearance, with a total length of just under 26” and a non-cutaway solid spruce top. However, as you move to the sides, you can see why it classes itself as a travel uke – it’s just 1.8” deep! This thinline body design means it’s incredibly light and portable. The back and sides are made from laminated mahogany, with a slight arch in the back to aid projection.
As for playability, it has plenty of it, with a slim mahogany neck, featuring a rosewood (or walnut, depending on the marketplace) fretboard, and 18 silver-nickel frets, with 14 clear of the body. Despite its fragile appearance, the KA-SSTU-TE feels built to last, with black body binding adding a little extra protection. So, it looks good, feels robust, and plays nicely – so far, we’re impressed!
The KA-SSTU-TE is an electro-acoustic ukulele, so comes fitted with B-Band’s advanced Emfit film pickup and a 1.2T active preamp, with simple volume and tone controls – not the most versatile in EQ controls, but it offers a clear and natural sound when amplified.
Elsewhere, this ukulele is equipped with a set of sealed tuning machines with black keys, Aquila Super Nylgut strings, and a nut and saddle made from GraphTech’s NuBone material. It also comes with its own custom Kala-branded padded gig bag, which is essential for transporting around.
We were a little concerned with how it would project, given its super slim body. But the KA-SSTU-TE sings pretty well, all things considered. This is helped by the slightly arched back and solid spruce top. Even if you weren’t happy with the acoustic projection, you can easily amplify it thanks to the innovative preamp and pickup, so it’s very much a performance-worthy instrument, which is bright but well-balanced thanks to the classic pairing of spruce and mahogany.
So, does it show decent value? Indeed it does – in fact, it exceeded our expectations. The body design is simple and clean, and – while it’s in no way the loudest tenor we’ve heard – the sound is great for such a slim body. You do wonder where the projection comes from! With the lightweight build, it’s perfect for travelling around, but it’s equally as nice to have around the house as your main tenor. Another winner from Kala!