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Thread: Kala and Ibanez

  1. #1

    Default Kala and Ibanez

    hi, new here to the forums

    so i have a dilemma. a tenor guitar dilemma.

    i play baritone uke, so i'm curious about getting a tenor guitar and tuning it DGBE. but which guitar?

    i love Kala. adore Kala. my baritone is a mahogany Kala. i play the crap outta that thing. i'd marry my Kala if it were human (and i were single).

    but i don't know how it sounds in real life. i've called everywhere near here--nobody has one. nobody has any tenor guitars.

    i've seen mixed reviews about the Ibanez. i'm not a big fan of the narrow nut, either. it's 1 5/16", while the Kala is bigger at 1.4".

    mostly i like strumming. i'm not much of a fingerpicker (yet). and i'm unsure whether the smaller Kala can handle heavier strumming.

    if you know the song "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" by Neutral Milk Hotel, you'll get what type of strumming i enjoy. i love playing that song.

    converting a 6-string to a tenor is an interesting idea, but a couple luthiers have told me it's a pretty big job, and i'll probably end up spending twice as much on that project than an actual tenor guitar costs.

    could i simply order the Kala and return it if i don't like it? yeah. but before i do that, i'd like to hear some of your expert opinions.

    - how do you like your Kala/Ibanez? has it held up over time?

    - is the Kala easy to restring for DGBE? i can get a new nut made, no prob.

    - how does the Kala handle strumming?

    - the Kala rep suggested D'addario J26 strings, but i'm curious about using slightly heavier strings. i'd like a bassier sound for the low D. i'm not a huge fan of the "twangy", high-pitched bluegrass sound that many tenor guitars have when they're strung with lighter gauges.


    i'm open to any ideas, thoughts, or suggestions. thanks


    edit: i considered Goldtone too, but it's a little costly for me right now...not sure how i feel about spending $370 on what appears to be something of Recording King quality (i had a lousy experience with my first guitar, which was a Recording King parlor). and while a Bluegrass would be nice, that's outta my price range for now.

  2. #2
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    Hi and welcome to the forum.
    I think it is fair to say that the majority of posters on here prefer slim necks and fifths tuning but there are also some who play in fourths so hopefully they will chime in.
    Lot of folk have converted six strings but they will have been braced and designed to use much higher string tensions than the average tenor guitar so without quite a lot of work you can’t expect fantastic results!
    I believe there are a few baritone ukuleles that can handle steel strings but if you want a bigger body instrument then I guess if you really want a wider finger board you could get a luthier to adapt a tenor guitar rather than adapt a six string.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    Quote Originally Posted by fox View Post
    Hi and welcome to the forum.
    I think it is fair to say that the majority of posters on here prefer slim necks and fifths tuning but there are also some who play in fourths so hopefully they will chime in.
    Lot of folk have converted six strings but they will have been braced and designed to use much higher string tensions than the average tenor guitar so without quite a lot of work you can’t expect fantastic results!
    I believe there are a few baritone ukuleles that can handle steel strings but if you want a bigger body instrument then I guess if you really want a wider finger board you could get a luthier to adapt a tenor guitar rather than adapt a six string.

    how do you feel about the Kala and Ibanez tenor guitars?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    I haven't played either one, but as a ukulele player you might find the Kala tenor guitar more comfortable, while mandolin players might prefer the Ibanez one. A narrow neck is great for high-speed picking, but if you play fingerstyle, you might find a wider neck more pleasant. It all depends on your playing style.

  5. #5
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    Quote Originally Posted by wiley80 View Post
    how do you feel about the Kala and Ibanez tenor guitars?
    I think they are both well made budget guitars, I like the look of the Ibanez and the Karla has many positive reviews.
    The Karla in particular is a popular short scale tenor.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    Quote Originally Posted by fox View Post
    I think they are both well made budget guitars, I like the look of the Ibanez and the Karla has many positive reviews.
    The Karla in particular is a popular short scale tenor.

    awesome.

    do you have any tips for switching out the strings to DGBE? i'm looking for a bit of a bassier, darker sound instead of the twangy, high-pitched sound of many tenor guitars.

    Kala said D'addario J26 strings, but these are light gauge...i was hoping for something a little chunkier. any ideas?

  7. #7
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    I am not really the right person to ask as I only play in 5ths on my tenors and strum on six strings but there are dozens of post on this forum featuring DGBE.
    However you can custom make your string sets quite easily, the majority of tenor guitars work effectively with around 75-85 lb of total string tension or 20 lb per string.
    So with the help of a string gauge calculator you can work it out.
    My friend Huck is very good with DGBE and he also has a Karla, I am sure he will be along to help you shortly.......

  8. #8
    Registered User BoxCarJoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    I have the Kala Tenor. (tuned CGDA)
    It's such a well made and beautiful sounding instrument.
    But the tenor sound is just not part of what I'm doing right now. So it sits.

    I'm a baritone uke fan also.

  9. #9
    Harley Marty
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    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    I imagine that if I was to go for a guitar tuned dgbe I'd Probably look for the dot on the 9th fret. My thinking is if the dot is on the 9th then the bridge saddle is more likely to be angled to take the lesser variation in string gauges for 4ths tuning as opposed to 5ths.

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    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    I play bari uke and tenor in DGBe tuning. I enjoy a slightly wider neck as well. I think you would be happy with a Kala given what you have explained. I have restrung several bari ukes with steel, low tension Thomastik-Infeld Steel/Nickel Flat Wound Light Steel Core, .010 - .038, KF110. These strings are expensive, but they last a very long time, so your real cost is about the same as buying more sets of cheaper strings. You can buy single strings for just the gauges you will need. The tension is similar to higher tension nylon sets so they have not stressed any instrument I have used them on. I put them on some nicer grade Pono bari ukes and also their Tenor guitar, the UL4-20. The strings sound very warm, clear and not twangy. For more info shoot me an email if you want to try it. I like Pono a lot, Kala makes a nice instrument as well. I have owned Gold Tone, Blueridge and others but sold them. I like the 20 and 21.5" scale lengths for DGBe tuning. I feel the 23" scale works better for the GDAe tuning. So for the sound of steel, grab a bari uke and some Th0mastick KF110 strings and start playing. It can be that simple.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    Quote Originally Posted by Granger View Post
    I play bari uke and tenor in DGBe tuning. I enjoy a slightly wider neck as well. I think you would be happy with a Kala given what you have explained. I have restrung several bari ukes with steel, low tension Thomastik-Infeld Steel/Nickel Flat Wound Light Steel Core, .010 - .038, KF110. These strings are expensive, but they last a very long time, so your real cost is about the same as buying more sets of cheaper strings. You can buy single strings for just the gauges you will need. The tension is similar to higher tension nylon sets so they have not stressed any instrument I have used them on. I put them on some nicer grade Pono bari ukes and also their Tenor guitar, the UL4-20. The strings sound very warm, clear and not twangy. For more info shoot me an email if you want to try it. I like Pono a lot, Kala makes a nice instrument as well. I have owned Gold Tone, Blueridge and others but sold them. I like the 20 and 21.5" scale lengths for DGBe tuning. I feel the 23" scale works better for the GDAe tuning. So for the sound of steel, grab a bari uke and some Th0mastick KF110 strings and start playing. It can be that simple.
    thanks for that info, i'll check it out

  12. #12

    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    I played a Kala, owned a Harmony and now a tenor banjo.

    The Kala is 21" short-scale, which is great for playing 5ths. The Ibanez are both longer 23" scale.

    You are wanting to play in Chicago tuning - DGBE - the high strings on a standard tuned 6-string. You might have to go into longer-scale and play with string gauges to find a set that works for you.

    Most short-scales are optimized for 5ths - the Kala has the dot marker at the 10th fret. Guitars like the Fender Tenor Tele has the dot marker at the 9th and it shipped in Chicago tuning.

    My Harmony was a very pristine archtop from the 60s that was 23". I met the guy with the Kala to explore a trade and I came home with the Harmony. The Kala felt like a toy, but that could just be me.

    Harley Benton also has a couple acoustic tenor guitars that might be worth looking at.
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  13. #13
    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    Quote Originally Posted by Verne Andru View Post
    I played a Kala, owned a Harmony and now a tenor banjo.

    The Kala is 21" short-scale, which is great for playing 5ths. The Ibanez are both longer 23" scale.

    You are wanting to play in Chicago tuning - DGBE - the high strings on a standard tuned 6-string. You might have to go into longer-scale and play with string gauges to find a set that works for you.

    Most short-scales are optimized for 5ths - the Kala has the dot marker at the 10th fret. Guitars like the Fender Tenor Tele has the dot marker at the 9th and it shipped in Chicago tuning.

    My Harmony was a very pristine archtop from the 60s that was 23". I met the guy with the Kala to explore a trade and I came home with the Harmony. The Kala felt like a toy, but that could just be me.

    Harley Benton also has a couple acoustic tenor guitars that might be worth looking at.
    Verne are you suggesting 23" scale isn't good for fifths??! When did that happen?
    My name is Rob, and I am Lord of All Badgers

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  14. #14

    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord of the Badgers View Post
    Verne are you suggesting 23" scale isn't good for fifths??! When did that happen?
    No. Both the Harmony and Kala were tuned in 5ths and both worked because of their respective string gauges. The Kala just felt like a toy in comparison.

    I guess if I'm suggesting anything it is that longer scale may be better for 4ths but I've not done the math to verify it.
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    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    From my point of view, a 21” scale is feels better for me with CGDA simply because the A is not so taught and not so prone to break but sound wise, I think the longer the scale the better!
    If you started playing guitars from an early age then most chord shapes are just a thought but for folk who move onto 5th tuned instruments at a later stage of life it can be difficult.

  17. #16
    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    Quote Originally Posted by Verne Andru View Post
    No. Both the Harmony and Kala were tuned in 5ths and both worked because of their respective string gauges. The Kala just felt like a toy in comparison.

    I guess if I'm suggesting anything it is that longer scale may be better for 4ths but I've not done the math to verify it.
    ok just that i use GDAE on all my 23" tenors.
    i'd go CGDA on short scale as Fox says.
    plectrum length - never had one
    My name is Rob, and I am Lord of All Badgers

    Tenor Guitars: Acoustic: Mcilroy ASP10T, 59 Martin 0-18t. Electric: 57 Gibson ETG-150, 80s Manson Kestrel
    Mandolins: Davidson f5, A5 "Badgerlin".
    Bouzouki: Paul Shippey Axe
    My band's website

  18. #17

    Default Re: Kala and Ibanez

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord of the Badgers View Post
    as Fox says.
    ditto
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