Having established itself as a leader in the ukulele universe, Kala is now branching out into guitar making with a pair of acoustic-electrics.
by Teja Gerken
November 02, 2015
California’s Kala Brand Music Co., which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, is firmly established as a leader in the ukulele market. The company offers more than 120 different models within the ukulele family and it created a whole new kind of instrument with its innovative U-Bass (check out Peghead Nation’s demo). Now Kala is branching out into guitar building with a line of full-size acoustic-electrics.
The new Thinline guitars are available as steel-string or nylon-string instruments. Each has a cutaway grand concert-size body with a depth of only 2.75 inches at the upper bout (as opposed to a standard body depth of about 3.75 inches or more). The steel-string models use a 14-fret neck with a solid headstock and a 1⅝-inch width at the nut, while the nylon-string models use a classical-style 12-fret neck with a slotted headstock and a 1⅞-inch nut width (which is about ⅛ inch narrower than a standard classical neck). Both models have laminated mahogany back and sides and are available with either a solid spruce or solid mahogany top. The Thinlines use Shadow electronics consisting of a Performer Pro EQ preamp (which includes EQ and a built-in tuner) mounted in the side of the guitar and an undersaddle pickup.
We had a chance to check out the KA-GTR-MTS-E (mahogany top) steel-string and KA-GTR-SMTN-E (spruce top) nylon-string models. Both were well-made and set up to play with ease. Considering their shallow bodies, it was impressive how satisfying the guitars sounded when played acoustically. While they aren’t the loudest guitars you'll find, the acoustic tone was rich and balanced. Plugged into a Fishman Loudbox Mini amp, the guitars offered solid amplified performance with enough onboard control to be able to adapt to most on-stage situations. The thin bodies made the guitars very comfortable to play, and we felt that the nylon-string in particular would be an ideal instrument for a beginning player looking for a guitar to get started and grow with.
Specs: Cutaway grand concert bodies with shallow 2.75-inch depth and 12-fret (nylon-string) or 14-fret (steel-string) neck joint. Solid spruce or mahogany top. Laminated mahogany back and sides. 25.5-inch scale length. 1⅝-inch (steel-string) or 1⅞-inch (nylon-string) nut-width. Shadow Performer Pro EQ electronics. $549.99 list. kalabrand.com.
Comments and Discussion
Good catch! It's been a couple of years since we had the actual guitars here in our studio, but looking at the video, those fingerboards do look like rosewood. It's possible that the specs have changed and that they're now ebony though. The only way to find out for sure would be to check out an actual instrument or to give Kala a call directly.
Co-Founder, Peghead Nation
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