3/28/2017

2014 Kala Flattop Tenor Guitar





I was aware that Kala was making a tenor guitar, these days, but I hadn't had the chance to try one out. It makes absolute sense that they would build a tenor, as so many uke players (ukes are what Kala is known for) double on tenor guitar these days and pound on my email and phone walls asking for them -- very specifically -- in a "size 5" (a little bigger than a baritone uke), 12 fret body. This instrument is basically what that crowd is after and, I have to say, for a $300 instrument, Kala has hit it out of the park with this model.

It's got a thin, lightly x-braced, solid spruce top riding over laminate rosewood back and sides and has a shorter 21 1/2" scale length I'm used to seeing on early/mid-20s tenor guitars before the 23" scale and bigger bodies became standard. It's well designed and, despite the dead-ish strings that I had to play with on this customer's instrument, has an excellent, woody, folksy, full sound to it. I was absolutely shocked because so many modern-era makers build tenors that just fall all over themselves in any number of ways.

I can see the tone of this suiting just about any way one could think of stringing it and it does the "octave mandolin" GDAE tuning it's currently wearing some real justice despite not being intended for that low a pitch at all. That brings me to why it was here -- the owner restrung it that way and I needed to recompensate the saddle for the thicker strings and adjust the setup for it.


Aesthetically, it's actually a pretty clean design, too. Clearly, they were appealing to uke players with the look and style. It has a thin, satin finish which helps keep the "plastic" feel away from it as well.


The nut and saddle are both bone and it comes stock with the nice Grover Sta-Tite pegs, though in the 14:1 version rather than the higher-ratio 18:1 version which I like better.


The neck is mahogany, truss-rodded, and has a rosewood (flat profile) fretboard.



Because the saddle was on the low-ish side, I string-ramped behind it to get a better back-angle on the saddle itself.






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