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Thread: New second hand Kala

  1. #1

    Default New second hand Kala

    Well... itís been a long time in the works but I finally got my first actual tenor guitar - the well known Kala KA-GTR. Now, I have a couple pseudo conversions (a Taylor 214 Deluxe and a Seagull Grand parlor, both with two strings removed but still full neck widths), but I have always been meaning to get a neck width correct tenor guitar and a good deal came my way on the Kala.

    The Kala is in mint condition, looks like new. The seller mentioned that it was tuned to standard CGDA and that the strings were loosened for shipping purposes (my request). After letting it sit a day and then tuning it up, I was not impressed with the tone nor playability. There seemed to be quite a bit of neck relief resulting in a fairly hard action. I noticed when tuning it up that the plain strings seemed a bit tight and the wound strings a bit floppy. I played it a couple days as is with hopes I would get used to it and that the neck would settle thinking that perhaps having loose strings during shipping it just needed some time to find itself again. I was not liking it much at all.

    So, it was time to start experimenting and see if I could find a happy medium. I loosened the strings a bit and adjusted the neck relief. Ok, that was a bit better for playability, but the tone just sounded very thin. I know these are pretty well liked so wanted to keep trying. I got out the digital calipers and the strings measured .012, .015, .022, .030. The add read that these had Daddario tenor guitar strings on it so I assumed J66ís - but the gauges didnít exactly match. The .012 and .030 didnít match up. I also noticed some off intonation issues when tuned to CGDA, especially when capoíd.

    So, on a whim I thought what would this sound like tuned DGBE. I didnít have anything to loose to try it, right. Looking at the string gauges that were on there I know I would safe to do so, perhaps just a bit on the floppy side. After tuning it down to DGBE, the tone really jumped out on this! It sounded so sweet in this tuning. Immediately I could see why this low cost tenor guitar is well liked. I adjusted the truss rod slightly and have been playing the heck out of it, loving it more with every tune. With the lower string tension, the sustain is amazing and I may not even move up to a more medium gauge string set. All in all what turned out to almost be a purchase regret turned into one of the best deals I ever made. Bad thing is, now that I have my first actual tenor guitar and loving the feel of the four string neck, I know I will soon need a higher quality instrument... I will need to tell my wife...

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    fox 

  3. #2
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    Default Re: New second hand Kala

    At $199 and they were discounted even more they were a great buy. I really enjoy mine. Kala told me to buy DíAddario Custom Light Phosphor Bronze which are
    .011,015,.022,.032 for DGBE which have worked out great.

  4. #3

    Default Re: New second hand Kala

    Thanks, Mace. I am going to try GDAE on it next before settling on it or DGBE (in which the set you mentioned should work perfect). I will try a custom gauge set based on the thread I seen here on the forums for various tunings.

  5. #4
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: New second hand Kala

    Choosing and using the correct strings to match your preferred tuning and scale length can make a world of difference and is really worth the effort to get right.

  6. #5

    Default Re: New second hand Kala

    Couldn't agreed with fox more.

    Your initial 12-15-22-30 CGDA looked something like this:
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    You can see it is not very balanced. A bit heavy on the high side and floppy on the low.


    When you tuned DGBE it balanced out a little better:
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    EJ66's are not necessarily the answer but more balanced:
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    A balanced/progressive set with approximately 20 lbs. per string would recommend:
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    Hope this helps a little.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mace View Post
    Kala told me to buy D’Addario Custom Light Phosphor Bronze which are
    .011,015,.022,.032 for DGBE which have worked out great.
    Mace - I'm positive Kala knows more about their guitars than I do. And I know you like the set that you are using. But, conventional wisdom does not recommend light gauge strings with tenor guitars. Tenors are shorter scale than 6-strings and the Kala shorter still. Most players recommend medium gauge strings with short scale guitars.

    The custom lights just seem reverse the initial problem:
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    Mediums would look something like this:
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  8. #6

    Default Re: New second hand Kala

    Quote Originally Posted by bsfloyd View Post
    I am going to try GDAE on it next...
    Suggested set:

    Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #7

    Default Re: New second hand Kala

    Thank you, Huck - this helped greatly!! Very useful information. I am curious how the wound A string would feel in the GDAE set. I reckon I am very used to a plain string in that position. I think a plain would be in .016 ~ .018 ball park, or still a .020? I don’t know if plain strings have more pull or not...

  10. #8

    Default Re: New second hand Kala

    On another note - did they discontinue the Kala hard shell cases for these? I seen a thread where Groth Music used to have them but do not see them anymore on their website. If they are not making them anymore, are there any other nice fitted cases? Mine came in a Golden Gate parlor sized guitar case that it swims in. Good thing my Seagull Grand fit like a glove in it and I needed a good case for it. But now the Kala has nothing...

  11. #9

    Default Re: New second hand Kala

    Quote Originally Posted by bsfloyd View Post
    Thank you, Huck - this helped greatly!! Very useful information. I am curious how the wound A string would feel in the GDAE set. I reckon I am very used to a plain string in that position. I think a plain would be in .016 ~ .018 ball park, or still a .020? I donít know if plain strings have more pull or not...
    You're most welcome.

    19p is around 18.5 lbs, 20p is around 20.5 lbs tension.

    No idea on a hard shell case. I'd explore Baby Taylor or GS Mini cases for compatibility.

    Good luck!
    Huck

  12. #10

    Default Re: New second hand Kala

    Quote Originally Posted by bsfloyd View Post
    On another note - did they discontinue the Kala hard shell cases for these?... If they are not making them anymore, are there any other nice fitted cases?
    A Baby Taylor case looks promising. I'd give it a look.

  13. #11

    Default Re: New second hand Kala

    I've been looking at these and the Blueridge 40t. How does the Kala handle strumming DGBE chords with a pick? I'm guessing with no guard factory installed that's not their intent for the instrument?

  14. #12

    Default Re: New second hand Kala

    Thanks for the tip, Huck - looks like a very close fit. I will have to give the Baby Taylor SKB case a try...

    Hello subby13 - I have not played the Blueridge but I would imagine it might likely have a bigger sound than the Kala due to it's larger body size. However, I play with a pick 99% of the time and the Kala doesn't sound bad at all. It certainly sounds bigger that what its size would suggest. Now, I am not a heavy handed strummer, but under what I consider normal strumming it does ok.

  15. #13

    Default Re: New second hand Kala

    Quote Originally Posted by bsfloyd View Post
    Thanks for the tip, Huck - looks like a very close fit. I will have to give the Baby Taylor SKB case a try...

    Hello subby13 - I have not played the Blueridge but I would imagine it might likely have a bigger sound than the Kala due to it's larger body size. However, I play with a pick 99% of the time and the Kala doesn't sound bad at all. It certainly sounds bigger that what its size would suggest. Now, I am not a heavy handed strummer, but under what I consider normal strumming it does ok.
    Thanks! Did you add a pick guard, or is the finish doing okay without?

  16. #14

    Default Re: New second hand Kala

    I have not added a pick guard, but I am thinking about it. I just recently purchased the Kala so can't comment how it is standing up without one. However, I have used picks for years on guitars with no pick guards with no problems - keep in mind I am not a heavy handed strummer and with my picking style the pick never comes in contact with the body. The only fall back I get is that I plant my hand (finger tips) when picking melodies so I get shiny, glossy spots on the top next to the strings. This only happens on satin finishes and not on gloss finishes - the Kala being a satin finish, I suspect this will eventually happen to it over time...

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