Friday, March 16, 2012

Kala KA SMHS Soprano Ukulele Review


Today we are looking at the first nice ukulele that I ever bought, a soprano-sized Kala SMHS. This one set my expectations quite a bit higher for the tone and playability of the ukulele, and I have since purchased the same uke in the tenor size.

Kala is good about using their model names to help identify what kind of instrument you are looking at. For the SMHS, the SM means that this uke is made of solid mahogany, not a laminate. The S stands for the soprano size, and I have no idea what the other T is for.

It is a handsome little ukulele, with a clear satin finish over the mahogany body, and a classy white and faux tortoise body binding. This binding goes around the top and the back as well as the end seam, and there is a matching piece of tort on the heel cap. Pretty!

The neck is also mahogany and it has a rosewood fretboard. The fretwork on this one is good, and I cannot ever imagine wearing them out with nylon uke strings. The bridge is made of tastefully-inlaid rosewood with a synthetic saddle.

The tuners are basic straight pegs through the headstock, and they are my least favorite part of the SHMS. They are finicky and I do not think they hold tune as well as they should -- I wish it had the same sealed-back die cast tuners that are on my SMHT.

Kala instruments are made overseas, and I have seen a few come through that were not up to snuff, with thing like sharp fret edges and rough fingerboard finishing, so it is highly advisable to buy from a reputable dealer that will let you exchange it if something is wrong. That being said, this SMHS is a very nice example, with great workmanship.

It plays very well, with a sweet tone and good volume for its size. It is a bit small for me as I prefer the tenor size ukes, but this one is tiny so it is perfect for traveling. Let me also say that this is probably the lightest musical instrument I have ever owned, coming in at a feathery 15 ounces.

Because it is imported, the Kala SMHS is uber-affordable with a list price of $280, and a street price of $196. This has to be one of the best values out there for a solid wood uke.


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