A common misconception when buying “beginner instruments” is the assumption that one must accept an inferior product that is strictly for learning, and nothing past that. This involves purchasing a starter instrument, and then ditching it later for a better model when skills improve.
This is actually true for some instruments, but it doesn’t always have to be. The Kala KA-15S soprano ukulele is the perfect example of a budget-minded, beginner instrument, but also one that you can hang on to for years to come.
The price point suggests the exact opposite. An authentic, non-gimmick ukulele for under $60? Actually, yes. We don’t have to necessarily understand how Kala made a ukulele this nice for this cheap, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate it.
Don’t be fooled by the price or advertised “starter” nature of this uke. While the Kala KA-15S is geared towards beginner’s it doesn’t play or sound like one, and that’s a good thing.
The first hint that this ukulele is more than just an entry-level model resides with its looks. The beautiful mahogany wood used to forge the body has a very natural tone, with just a light matte finish that gives it protection, but without hindering the aesthetic of the wood.
The thin coating serves another purpose as well, and that’s the emphasized projection this uke has. For a soprano, it can sure get loud in the best of ways. The volume and clarity of each note truly sings from within the wood and outwards.
The ukulele fretboard is made from rosewood, which is fairly standard. It’s the actual craftsmanship that stands out, which you may not notice with your eyes, but you’ll definitely feel it with the action when playing. Smooth as it gets.
The strings are set low as well, making it easy to play notes and chords. If you’ve ever played a guitar or uke with high action on the strings, you now how hard it can be if your hands aren’t used to it yet. For beginner’s, that can be very discouraging. Not so with the KA-15S.
One of the more unique features of this uke is the NuBone nut, which is far superior to the plastic nuts found on cheaper models. The NuBone material is very hard, and allows the strings to resonate better, vastly improving intonation.
The tuning knobs are noticeably solid as well, and they feel very secure when tuning the strings. You can definitely tell that any slippage during extended playing will be very minimal, if at all. If you’ve ever experienced flimsy tuning knobs with other beginning models, this is the exact opposite.
The strings are another great aspect to this uke. Rather than using cheap strings, the KA-15S comes with premium Aquila Nylgut strings, which are widely cherished and loved by uke players all across the world. No need to go for the instant upgrade, just give them a little time to stretch and acclimate and you’ll be good to go for months on end.
The bridge uses your standard tie method to secure the strings, and works with the nuts and fretboard to position the strings perfectly, all of which goes into giving this uke excellent playability that both novice and expert players can appreciate.
This ukulele really is the total package, and could easily sell for twice as much. The combination of quality and price is no doubt a big reason as to why the KA-15S is one of the most popular ukuleles in the world.
Where do we start? It’s not like this uke does maybe one or two things well, it’s really about the total package.
The NuBone nuts really stand out, and are a big part of the equation as to what makes this uke sound so good. Cheap plastic nuts are such a hinderance to entry-level ukuleles, making the strings sound flat and choked. Not so here.
The low string action is a major plus as well. Beginning players can get very frustrated with the strength it takes to press down on high action strings, so the action with the KA-15S not only prevents that, it makes the action easier for players of any level.
The price point is worth mentioning again. This is the definition of a bargain. We hope Kala never realizes that this uke could sell for twice the price, and still be a great value. And of course, the Aquila strings is a big benefit too.
It’s not often you encounter this with a ukulele that’s anywhere near this affordable, but it’s hard to really pinpoint anything that could feasibly be improved. Again, there’s a reason this uke is such a big seller worldwide. It’s nearly perfect. Hard to ask for more for this price.
When purchasing from Amazon, we strongly encourage getting one of the accident protection insurance plans. They are very cheap, and very much worth it in case you damage the uke.
We also recommend looking into a tuner, a case, and a string changing tool to go along with it as well. Since the uke is this cheap, you should have some extra cash left over to get some accessories.
This is truly a superior ukulele for aspiring players, and those who maybe just want to give the ukulele a try when not playing guitar. The price is very affordable, and you can buy with confidence knowing that this uke is suitable for players of all levels, so it’s just as good when playing it years down the road.
If you’re looking for an affordable entrance into the ukulele world, and want as much quality as you can get without breaking the $60 barrier, this is the one you need, no question.