Kala 1KOA-SG Elite Soprano – Gloss
This is a fine little soprano ukulele, the 1KOA-SG. In fact it is average size for a soprano, not little – let’s clear that up. There is something very endearing about this instrument, which reminds me of vintage ukuleles, with a traditional voice. Yet the immaculate gloss finish hardens to solid Hawaiian koa top just a touch, delivering a bit more ‘zip’, a sparkling effect to the trebles that adds a bit of power and sustain to the mix. Made in the American workshop in small numbers, the Kala Elite series have been lovingly made rather than mass produced, something that comes through in the appearance. The 1KOA-SG is relatively plain, yet it looks handmade – in a good way.
The back and sides are also solid koa on the 1KOA-SG, with a high grade rosewood fingerboard and lovely silky-smooth frets. There’s a bone saddle paired with a graphtech nut, the latter measuring at 34mm. To put that into context, many of Kala’s imported Chinese tenor ukes have that same nut width, meaning this is a soprano that anyone can play – even those who claim they’re too small! The gloss finish isn’t applied to the ukulele’s neck, and the slightly stretched looking headstock mean your hand moves freely – while also having plenty of room for complex chord shapes. It is a very, very good instrument to play, the Kala Elite 1KOA-SG is brilliantly balanced, set up well and lots of fun.
The Elite series from Kala have their own, clear fluorocarbon strings fitted, strings which I very much like. They have a brightness, but one that is not at all strident, delivering a balanced, mellow tone through which the highs seem to shine through. Maybe this 1KOA-SG would sound better with different strings, I don’t know. Because I’m too busy enjoying it with the strings it has on to think about experimenting!
As well as a deluxe hard case, the Kala 1KOA-SG has Grover-esque open geared tuners – which I think may be from Grover, with the Kala name on. Worrying about that isn’t worthwhile however, whoever has made them has made them well. The only little extra for the looks is the mother of pearl headstock logo – which is very well done indeed. That aside, it is all down to the natural grain of wood – something that is improved by the professional UV cured gloss finish.
Should you want this marvellous soprano to be fitted with a Mi-Si Acoustic Trio pickup, you’re in luck. That option is available, though please be aware that takes a few days to get fitted.