Kala 1KOA-CG Elite Concert Ukulele – Gloss
Kala’s Elite range is aptly named. The company does do a lot of good intermediate level ukuleles, and in recent times have upped their game with some really good value models. But ukes like this Kala 1KOA-CG really have elevated what they can do. Made at their Californian workshop, they have a quality, handmade feel – meaning they don’t look like mass produced factory units, but rather something you can see someone has taken a long time over. Mike Upton, Kala’s boss, is passionate about driving his brand into new, better territory, and the build quality of the 1KOA-CG is certainly pushing things into the highest echelons.
The solid Hawaiian koa top, back and sides produce a very harmonious balance between rich bass and intense trebles, the latter particularly crystal clear on this gloss finish model. For me, this accentuates melodies so well that it would best suit a fingerpicker, or someone who breaks away from just chords into lead parts. The lively tone is never strident, but rather sings out beautifully against a deeper backdrop of sound.
A lot of thought has gone into the neck, which has a wide 38mm nubone nut – making the strings anything but cramped. A longer portion where the neck meets the headstock means it feels particularly easy to play at the lower end without your hand butting into shape of the head. I realise I’m tying myself up in knots trying to describe this, so suffice to say, it feels good in your hand! The string spacing takes a little adjustment first (but not for long), as the rosewood fretboard is so spacious. Picking individual notes is very easy once you get your eye in (or your hand in!), and the low action means barre chords are no chore either.
The Kala 1KOA-CG is fitted with custom Kala open geared tuners. It is my assertion these are Grover tuners with the Kala name on – which I mean as a compliment as I really like the nice, lightweight and effective Grover models! The ukulele is finished with a UV cured gloss finish. What does that mean? Well, it means it is very shiny, hardwearing and looks good!
The trust Kala have built up over the years, producing good quality ukes, means they can now step into these professional waters with public confidence behind them. They pitched this 1KOA-CG beyond their imported models and yet managed to still make a ukulele that is good value for money – something they’ve become known for.
We can put a Mi-Si pickup in for you here, if you allow a week for it to get to you while it is fitted, for a truly special concert electro uke. Whether you go for this option or not, your Kala Elite gloss concert will arrive in a top quality hard case.