Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kala KA SMHT Tenor Ukulele Review

I have tried a lot of different tenor ukuleles looking for one that plays and sounds like my Kala SMHS soprano ukulele, and have not had very good luck. Then it dawned on me that I should try the SMHT, which is the same ukulele in the tenor size. It seems pretty obvious now that I think about it.
The model name SMHT gives a few hint of what this ukulele is like. The SM means that this uke is made of solid mahogany, not a laminate. The T stands for the tenor size, and I have no idea what the other S is for.
It is a classy-looking ukulele, with a clear satin finish, and subdued tortoise body binding. This binding goes around the top and the back, and is joined with another piece across the end seam of the body. I love that look.
The neck appears to be mahogany as well, with a rosewood fretboard. The fretwork on this one is good, but I have seen some rough ends on a few Kala instruments now, so make sure you try before you buy.
The sealed-back die cast tuners are nice quality and hold well; they are a step above the more basic pegs on my SMHS, which can be a bit finicky. The inlaid bridge is made of rosewood with a synthetic saddle.
This SMHT is a well-made instrument and is constructed of solid materials, which is a great start. And I love the fact that it looks like a classic uke, with no odd cutaways or bizarre features. But it also has a mellow and balanced tone. It is pleasant to play, and is a perfect travelling companion.
Despite the quality of the Kala SMHT, it is dirt cheap for what you get (because it is imported). The MSRP on these is $330, with a street price of about $230. You will not find a better solid wood ukulele for the money.

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