Since the 1990s, ukuleles have experienced a revival in popularity both in The United States and abroad.
Not only have casual music fans of any genre fallen in love with the fun and unique sound of the ukulele, but plenty of big bands and professional musicians have incorporated the instrument into big hits.
These include Twenty One Pilots, Vance Joy and Dodie Clark, who have all played the ukulele in their own different, incredible way.
As there is such a huge return in ukulele playing, it can be difficult to choose which brand to go with when buying one.
One of the bigger brands is Kala, having originated in California in 2005. In the past 16 years, the brand has established itself as the go-to maker of entry-level ukuleles and is definitely worth considering.
Enter the Kala KA-15S Review
One of the brand’s best-selling ukuleles is the KA-15S model.
This model is available in four different colors, including Satin Black, Spruce Top, Soprano Long Neck and Mahogany Concert & Tenor.
While each color provides its own ambiance, the KA-15S Soprano model remains a fan-favorite for its look and feel alike.
The Soprano features a rich mahogany top and back material with a Satin finish.
The instrument is also comprised of silky smooth Aquila Super Nylgut nylon strings, perfect for achieving a top-quality sound without sacrificing finger comfort.
The construction also includes a walnut fingerboard and bridge and a GraphTech NuBone, popular choices for ukulele makes.
With over 3,500 reviews on Amazon averaging 4.5 stars, there is definitely something to be said about the KA-15S model.
Moreover, it continues to be a best-selling instrument, even after over 10 years on the market. So what is good and what is not-so-good about this ukulele model?
What is GOOD about the Kala KA-15S Soprano Ukulele?
With this model being purchased so often, there is definitely a lot of positives about this Kala model, including its make, look and feel (all important parts of any good model!). Beginners will be the ones to truly fall in love with this ukulele.
- Rich, full-bodied mahogany: The biggest praise of the KA-15S was for the mahogany wood that the instrument consists of. Many fans have appreciated the genuine mahogany that this ukulele is crafted of, as many ukuleles opt for cheaper wood options. The wood adds to the eye-catching aesthetic of this model as well, looking both traditional and ultra-modern at the same time.
- Incomparable strings: Another big pro of the KA-15S is the smooth nylon strings that come with it. Beginners to the ukulele stated that the Aquila Super Nylgut strings were soft to the touch and did not hurt the fingers or leave any marks, which can often be a big turn-off to newbies. They are also easy to change when needed down the road.
- Well-constructed: Many ukuleles for sale are targeted at children and therefore made of cheap material that does not last long. Fortunately, this Kala model does not make any sacrifices anywhere in the construction of the instrument, with every inch made of only the finest materials.
- Packaged nicely: Oftentimes, instruments ordered online arrived damaged when being shipped, leading to dents in or marks on the instrument. Thankfully, that seems to be a rare case for this ukulele, which is packaged safely and nicely, making for a smooth shipping experience.
- Ideal for beginners: Finally, this is truly the perfect ukulele for beginners. Its size and shape act as a solid introduction to the shape and feel of a ukulele, which has made it a popular choice for individual players and schools alike.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Well-crafted, beautiful-looking and easy-to-use, the KA-15S is the optimal ukulele for beginners to fall in love with.
Other Things to Consider
Naturally, there are cons to every ukulele model, and this one is no exception. In this case, experts may be turned off by some elements of the KA-15S that they may not find in more advanced ukuleles.
- (Very) small size: Of course, ukuleles are a much smaller size than your typical guitar, which can be a little strange-feeling for those individuals playing for the first time after having played guitar for a while. With this particular model, individuals with big hands may have trouble playing this instrument comfortably. Soprano ukuleles are on the smaller size compared to other types of ukuleles, so those wanting something a little bigger may opt for a bigger model.
- Needs potential adjustments: Players with more experience have stated that they were required to make adjustments to the ukulele after purchase, including modifications to the fret and bridge due to inconsistencies in the making. It should be noted that this is a common situation for ukuleles worldwide.
- Does not stay in tune: Those who dislike the Kala KA-15S complained that the model goes easily out of tune, sometimes within just a couple of minutes. This can be a huge downside to beginners who do not have a lot of experience with tuning or advanced players who are looking for consistent tuning.
- Vibrations: As far as sound, each ukulele will have its own sound style, which will appeal to some and naturally not appeal to others. Though the sound of this ukulele is rich and loud, there can occasionally be vibrations of the instrument with the sound, which can be distracting to some players based on what they are looking for.
- Not durable: Lastly, some customers have had the complete opposite experience of a sturdy and durable ukulele than others. There have been reports of strings that have easily broken, as well as unstable frets or other parts of the instrument requiring the purchase of new parts, adding up expenses.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Experts may find this ukulele a less-than-perfect option that needs adjustments or fixes and may want to choose a more advanced instrument instead.
So, what’s the verdict?
There is no doubting that the Kala KA-15S Soprano ukulele is a terrific little instrument made of rich materials and is very easy to play.
In the revival of ukuleles, it is imperative to settle on an instrument that feels and works just right for you.
If you are a beginner in the world of ukuleles, you won’t find any better than the Kala KA-15S before you work your way up to more advanced models.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.