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View Full Version : What do you think about Kiwaya Ukuleles and LoPrinzi ukes?



guitarjunky
03-07-2009, 05:15 PM
Any owner can tell me what they think?

What is the general perception about those two brands?

thanks

NatalieS
03-07-2009, 05:19 PM
I can't say anything for LoPrinzi, but I'm in love with my soprano mahogany Kiwaya. It is flawlessly made and produces a wonderful sound. I haven't heard much about Kiwaya's koa line but the mahogany is considered top-notch.

fergs1
03-07-2009, 09:29 PM
I have a kts-7 and it is sublime, infact the tone just gets better and better with time (I play at least an hour a day, more like 2. You can't beat em
cheers fergs

Ken Middleton
03-08-2009, 04:50 AM
I can't say anything for LoPrinzi, but I'm in love with my soprano mahogany Kiwaya. It is flawlessly made and produces a wonderful sound. I haven't heard much about Kiwaya's koa line but the mahogany is considered top-notch.

I absolutely agree.

GX9901
03-08-2009, 12:07 PM
I just received a LoPrinzi model A mahogany tenor yesterday. The workmanship is outstanding and I would say it's perhaps superior to most Hawaiian factory made ukuleles I've seen. As for the sound, it sounds good but when compared to a Kamaka or Kanile'a tenor back to back it doesn't quite have the brilliance or oomph. But that could be just the difference in wood and/or strings. So my initial impression is that LoPrinzi is a pretty good value.

I also have a Kiwaya KTS-7. As others have said, great workmanship and sound. However, mine doesn't sound anything like a vintage Martin. To me it sounds more like a concert sized ukulele without any of the "bark" that I hear from a vintage Martin.

Pippin
03-08-2009, 01:11 PM
LoPrinzi ukuleles are very highly regarded. They are excellent quality. If you give one time to open up, you will not be disappointed. Kamaka ukes are top-shelf. Either of the two would keep me smiling for a long time.

I will be writing a review of a Kamaka uke for Ukulele Player Magazine in a coming issue.

Big_Island_Ukulele
03-08-2009, 05:02 PM
Hello All!
I'm going to let the cat out of the bag- Kiwaya ukes are made in Japan by Shinji Takahashi of T's guitars. He's been making ukes for many of the famous brand names in Japan for over 10 years! Don't let the "guitars" in the name of his company fool you. He's been making instruments for around 30 years and 10 - 15 years ago, he got the ukulele bug (far before most of the others jumped on the bandwagon recently) and has been winning awards in Hawaii for the last three years consecutively at the Ukulele Guild event they have every year. His factory basically does two things- He (along with about 10 employees) makes ukulele and his brother makes electric guitars and basses. Shinji himself stopped making guitars regularly once he started doing ukes many years ago.

He is basically THE sought after Japanese ukulele maker in Japan. His ukuleles are played by so many famous Japanese musicians. But because he did OEM for the other makers for so many years, not many players or users really knew about him, until fairly recently in Japan and even less in the US. That's the way the OEM owners, like Kiwaya, like it to stay. It's their best kept secret. But you cannot stay hidden forever when you make as good of an ukulele as he does. He and I shared a booth at NAMM and the public was very impressed, but much to the chagrin of the Kiwaya distributor about 5 booths down!

If anyone wants to get a hold of a T's brand ukulele from Japan, let me know. I'm working on the logistics of getting it to customers in the US. Since I have operations in Japan and Hawaii, and my own ukes often travel back and forth between the two places, I should be able to get an uke to anyone shipped from Hawaii. If anyone is interested in getting an original T's ukulele, I will put you directly in touch with Shinji directly to work out and I'll work out getting you the uke.

Music Guy Mike has original T's for sale occasionally- usually just after a trade show. I think he might still have some...

take care! Aloha, Jorma

Shadowgolem
01-11-2012, 08:11 AM
I got a Koa Tenor A this summer and I have not heard anything live I like the sound of better. Certainly not anything under 1000$. It keeps sounding better and better. I have it strung with Low G Fremont Blacks. I smile every time I play it.

Gmoney
01-11-2012, 08:24 AM
I've played several Kiwaya's but don't own one. The seem to be excelently made.

I own one LoPrinzi tenor & have played several. They are simply marvelous! They are handmade by Augustine (Augie) LoPrinzi & his daughter Donna. Kiwaya is the Japanese distributer for LoPrinzi, but they are completely made in Clearwater, FL USA. Augie is well known for the custom guitars he's made for many years & for the ukulele he made for "Ohto-San". Here's an old story about Augie from 2002:

http://www.sptimes.com/2002/01/21/Floridian/The_Duke_of_Uke.shtml

Many LoPrinzi owners here on UU have stated that the LoPrinzi's are the best quality and the best price for a US handmade ukulele. They compare well to any of the Hawaiian "K" brands & I prize mine.

Regster
01-11-2012, 10:23 AM
Played two loprinzi, one is a soprano ohta san and a tenor one with ebony fingerboard from ukulelehotline indianapolis. Oh I also had a chance to play a concert kiwaya over there. One thing I noticed from loprinzi is the neck is thin, but compared to the kiwaya. The kiwaya had a stronger, clearer sound. Also the build of the kiwaya is superior in my opinion. Not that Loprinzi is bad, I just think kiwaya is better.

GinnyT11
01-11-2012, 10:33 AM
The Kiwaya KTS-4 is excellently made--fit, finish, action, intonation, projection. It's very light and is a pleasure to hold and to play.

I'm selling mine (see Marketplace posting) because I am head-over-heels in love with my Pohaku mahogany soprano and I don't want two mahogany ukes. Plus I have a custom Donaldson soprano coming very soon and the sale will help my cash flow.

lambchop
01-11-2012, 10:50 AM
Played a LoPrinzi tenor once and absolutely loved it. I couldn't afford the particular one at the time (it was at Elderly) but while I was there, I helped "sell" it to a father who was sending it to his son in the Air Force, so it went to a good home.

coolkayaker1
03-26-2012, 07:25 PM
Jorma: your information about Shinji and Kiwaya on this thread was instrumental in helping me decide on a Kiwaya Master recently. I'm not sure, frankly, that Shinji makes all the Kiwayas, does he? The Kiwaya shop with about eight employees makes ukes, too. I know he makes the Master series, and likely the upper end KTS and KTC models, but I'm not certain he makes the lower end (still expensive) Kiwayas. You shared a booth with the man, so you'd know better than I do...lol.

BTW, a T's ukulele used is on ebay now, for anyone interested. Just ebay search T's ukulele.

didgeridoo2
03-26-2012, 07:48 PM
I have two Kiwayas (KS-1 and KTS-5) and I recently acquired a Loprinzi B Baritone. Excellent fit and finish on The KTS-5 and the Loprinzi. The KTS-5 rings for days and is a perfect little soprano. I'm getting used to the Loprinzi and my initial impressions are that the quality is up there with the Kiwayas. The neck is thin, but I expected that and I don't mind it.

I would say that good value is an understatement when describing these companies.

stevepetergal
03-27-2012, 03:51 AM
The first ukulele I ever played with truly exceptional intonation was a Kiwaya. (Just the piano technician's viewpoint)

1300cc
05-13-2012, 01:46 AM
just got a loprinzi soprano 14 fret, i would rate it 5 star if the neck is bit more longer at least another 1/2 inch

Nickie
05-13-2012, 03:26 AM
I've never seen a Kiwaya. Yesterday I played a LoPrinzi soprano that was made last year for John King. John never got it, but a friend of mine did. I don't play sopranos but I thought it was impeccable. The sound was incredible, had a real cheery bark to it. Cosmo, the owner, is already wearing out the top playing it!
I'm lucky enough to live about 2 miles from Auggie and Donna's shop. Am planning to visit one day. I've met them, at our Ukulele Getaway, and they are both very sweet people, eager to share comments about their trade with others. Auggie told me some of the wood he has is older than Donna.

coolkayaker1
05-13-2012, 03:47 AM
Nickie...if you're only two miles away and know Auggie and Donna personally, it's a no brainer that they'd make you an extra special instrument. So, when's the new keiki going to arrive? lol

strumsilly
01-07-2016, 12:11 PM
Hello All!
I'm going to let the cat out of the bag- Kiwaya ukes are made in Japan by Shinji Takahashi of T's guitars. He's been making ukes for many of the famous brand names in Japan for over 10 years! Don't let the "guitars" in the name of his company fool you. He's been making instruments for around 30 years and 10 - 15 years ago, he got the ukulele bug (far before most of the others jumped on the bandwagon recently) and has been winning awards in Hawaii for the last three years consecutively at the Ukulele Guild event they have every year. His factory basically does two things- He (along with about 10 employees) makes ukulele and his brother makes electric guitars and basses. Shinji himself stopped making guitars regularly once he started doing ukes many years ago.

He is basically THE sought after Japanese ukulele maker in Japan. His ukuleles are played by so many famous Japanese musicians. But because he did OEM for the other makers for so many years, not many players or users really knew about him, until fairly recently in Japan and even less in the US. That's the way the OEM owners, like Kiwaya, like it to stay. It's their best kept secret. But you cannot stay hidden forever when you make as good of an ukulele as he does. He and I shared a booth at NAMM and the public was very impressed, but much to the chagrin of the Kiwaya distributor about 5 booths down!

If anyone wants to get a hold of a T's brand ukulele from Japan, let me know. I'm working on the logistics of getting it to customers in the US. Since I have operations in Japan and Hawaii, and my own ukes often travel back and forth between the two places, I should be able to get an uke to anyone shipped from Hawaii. If anyone is interested in getting an original T's ukulele, I will put you directly in touch with Shinji directly to work out and I'll work out getting you the uke.

Music Guy Mike has original T's for sale occasionally- usually just after a trade show. I think he might still have some...

take care! Aloha, Jormaso are you saying that if I bought a Kiwaya artist series it is likely to have been made by Shinji.?

coolkayaker1
01-07-2016, 03:18 PM
I owned a Master Koa tenor, made for NAMM 2014, and it was my understanding, from some researching emails, that Shinji only made the Master grade models, and that others in his workshop made the others (maybe artist series). That noted, there wasn't Shinji signature in my Master Series tenor. Maybe Shinji made the Fernandez slotted head custom, Strum. But I'd wager there's no way to tell other than someone (Mr Fernandez?) saying so.

Here's a video by Perry showing a soprano Master Series Koa and mentioning Shinji T.
http://youtu.be/KFVXqgxaftg

I will say, the Kiwaya Master series are so lightweight as to seem helium-filled; much, much lighter than modern Martins. My Shinji tenor was only 13 ounces, whereas my modern Martin hog Style 2 is 14 ounces, and my cherry Style 3 is 16.5 ounces--and those are sopranos!!

PS Guilty as charged: I have a "thing" for weighing my ukes.