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View Full Version : Kiwaya KTC-2 or KTS-4??



Astein2006
10-09-2015, 09:42 AM
I will be buying my first uke soon. I have narrowed down my search to Kiwaya based on all the videos and reviews. I just don't know if I should start with a soprano or a concert. I'm looking at the Kiwaya KTC-2 and the KTS-4. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

hendulele
10-09-2015, 09:48 AM
I would play a soprano and a concert first. How does it feel in your hands? How comfortable is the spacing between frets and between strings? Neither has to be a Kiwaya, though it would help. The size of your hands and the length/flexibility of your fingers will make a difference, but there's no substitute for picking one up and holding it before making a decision.

sam13
10-09-2015, 10:29 AM
I would play a soprano and a concert first. How does it feel in your hands? How comfortable is the spacing between frets and between strings? Neither has to be a Kiwaya, though it would help. The size of your hands and the length/flexibility of your fingers will make a difference, but there's no substitute for picking one up and holding it before making a decision.

This is great advice ... play one of each first.

brimmer
10-09-2015, 11:02 AM
Whichever size you prefer, Kiwaya is a fine choice. I have played their ukes in all sizes, and recommend them. Currently I play a Kiwaya concert uke. Nice for fingerstyle, but also for strumming. I would buy a Kiwaya soprano except there are already 2 vintage Martin sopranos in the house. But the Kiwaya concert is one of my favorites.

Astein2006
10-09-2015, 11:12 AM
All the demo videos I have seen show finger style primarily on concert and very little if any strumming and vice versa with the soprano. Since I am a beginner I will most likely start with strumming and learning my chords. Are there drawbacks with strumming on a concert versus a soprano. Are you losing anything such as tone or volume etc? I understand that concert has a more room on the fret board to do more than strum. But since I will mostl likely start with strumming in the beginning am I losing or gaining anything by picking a concert over a soprano.

Mivo
10-09-2015, 11:41 AM
You won't be a beginner for long, so I feel that beginner-specific aspects shouldn't too strongly impact your purchase decision. You can play anything, and any style, that you can play on a concert on a soprano, too, provided that the songs require the same number of frets. Concerts usually have a little more volume and a slightly fuller tone, but that is a generalization. My soprano pineapple is as loud as my tenors, and my mahogany soprano is louder than my mahogany concert. It depends on the instrument's build, wood, even strings.

The difference between a concert and a soprano isn't all that big. Concerts have a little more room and sometimes more sustain, and sopranos have wider reach and less tension. For finger style on soprano videos, look up Wilfried Welti and John King on YouTube. There are many others. The concert scale could be a safer bet, especially if you have large hands, but there are lots of huge guys with bear paws who play soprano just fine. :)

It's very easy to overthink this and then get stuck in analysis paralysis. Pick the one whose sound you prefer. If they sound the same to you, go by looks. Still no preference? There's always the coin. :) It took me several ukes to figure out what I enjoyed the most (for now), and it was something I didn't even consider initially (a longneck soprano), but the other ukes on the way helped me to refine my preferences.

Both of your choices are great options, and either one will be fantastic for learning. Can't go wrong with these.

brimmer
10-09-2015, 12:22 PM
I agree with everything Mivo said. You can play fingerstyle or strum either size. The strum on a soprano is perhaps tighter and crisper, and maybe fuller and deeper on the concert. But your fingers are the main factor in the sound of your strum. Others may disagree but I think the concert is the more conservative choice for a beginner, particularly if you are coming to uke from guitar. What size you eventually come to favor is personal preference. But it make take some time for your preference to develop.

Astein2006
10-09-2015, 12:33 PM
so much good advice. I am looking at this too analytically I suppose. If truth be told I actually do prefer the look of a soprano and all the classic-ness that goes along with it. I have had some guitar playing experience but i didn't know if that translated at all to the Uke since they are different instruments. I have been told I have piano playing hands. Slim palms and long skinny fingers. I don't know if that plays into what may suit me better. Still conflicted though....I want a solid wood Uke. If I was going for something a little less expensive I maybe would not stress so much about what I get first.

Mivo
10-09-2015, 01:13 PM
If you're drawn to the soprano, that's what I'd get.

If you're anything like me, you'll fret over this decision for a while, then spontaneously buy one or the other to get over the bump of indecision, then fret again after a brief period of relief and wonder incessantly whether the other size might not have been better.

Then you should stick to what you have chosen for at least half a year, instead of (like me and many here) getting the other sizes too. But eventually you'll probably be curious; for myself I found that I could not possibly have figured out what works for me if I had not done that part of the journey.

This is why I believe that it doesn't matter where you start, and why I would begin with what attracts you the most. It will either be a perfect match right off the bat, or it will get the thing you're the most curious about out of the way early on. When you're already attracted to the soprano, you will always wonder about it anyway, so to me that sounds like a good starting point. But really, either choice is good.

Remember that you can also resell good instruments. There's a loss, but a good chunk of the money can be regained. Sopranos and concerts aren't so different that you would find one size perfect and the other size completely unplayable. Not with your hands and not with this brand.

Your preferences may also change in time. Mine have, and who knows, with more experience they might change again. That makes life exciting. :) (And anything you learn transfers to the other two common sizes too.)

So, you can't really get it wrong.

Astein2006
10-09-2015, 01:36 PM
I am leaning towards the concert after looking at all sides and all the great advice I'm getting. I think having the extra room on the concert and maybe it being a bit easier to hold because of the bigger size may translate to an easier transition to the Uke. From what I gather so far the concert is a nice middle ground. You get some of the soprano flavor but more room to move and a bit more volume. Both Kiwayas look beautiful and all reviews have been stellar. I don't think I would be unhappy with either even if I have romantic visions of a soprano in my hand. I just need to realize that both are great models and their maker and to not ruminate so much. Even though that is my nature. My wife can attest to that. I over think every purchase I make. Kind of exhausting. I just want to buy a Uke and learn to play and enjoy the experience. Seems easier said than done by what I've been reading. Glad I'm not the only one.

Mivo
10-09-2015, 01:43 PM
There are middle ways too, though not sure if Kiwaya has longnecks. I love the sound of a soprano, but wanted more frets an room in the upper frets, so I went with the KoAloha longneck soprano pineapple (soprano body, concert neck), which checks two boxes for me. It's definitely my favorite uke at the moment.

Going with the concert is a safe bet, as the others wrote, especially if you are unsure about the room. But I do see a soprano in your future! ;)

brimmer
10-09-2015, 01:50 PM
Let us know what you decide. Are you looking at Hawaiian Music Supply? I have purchased from them before, and they do a great setup. Not so many places sell Kiwayas, at least in the US.

Astein2006
10-09-2015, 01:58 PM
I have been geeking out over the Koalohas also. Love the look of the Koa and the design. Especially the pineapple. I love the shape. Maybe a soprano long neck pineapple might be an option. Not sure what they run usually? I will most likely buy from Hawaiian Music supply. They seem to have a wide range of brands and models. I also looked at The Ukulele Site also. Any preferences on who to buy through?

Mivo
10-09-2015, 02:33 PM
HMS seems to sell the KoAloha longneck pineapple soprano at $700, though they are out of stock currently. Link: http://www.theukulelesite.com/koaloha-pineapple-long-neck-ksm-03.html Could check with them on availability.

I paid a little more for mine, and I could rave about it all day long. :) The extremely smooth way it plays, the amazing sound, the incredible lightness, the surprising sustain for its size ... I don't know if they are all like mine, but it was love at first sight.

Astein2006
10-09-2015, 03:07 PM
Maybe a longneck soprano is the way to go. I get the soprano sound with the longer scale. Any drawbacks to this type that I need to think of??

brimmer
10-09-2015, 04:00 PM
Koalohas are great koa ukes. Different sound than Kiawaya. Koa vs mahogany is another topic entirely. It all depends on the sound you want. I haven't played a longneck soprano yet. Good luck!

To further complicate your choice, there is a used Kiwaya KTS-7 for $750 at Elderly Instruments. One of my favorite ukes, and a reliable seller.

Astein2006
10-09-2015, 05:00 PM
i think i prefer mahogany to koa. it seems warmer. what did John King play primarily as far as woods go?

brimmer
10-09-2015, 05:33 PM
I have seen youtube videos of John King playing two ukes, one a concert and the other a soprano. The soprano was a copy of a 1890 Santo made by Mike DaSilva. It appears to have a spruce top, but I don't know about the back and sides.

The concert uke he played was a Strad uke made by Joel Eckhaus of Earnest Instruments. This is the same uke Rob MacKillop plays in his youtube videos. It is mahogany with a spruce top. Joel made one for me too, and it is a great uke. daSilva and Earnest both have websites...

brimmer
10-09-2015, 05:39 PM
The DaSilva Santo can be found here:

http://www.ukemaker.com/DaSilvaUkulele-InstrumentDesignsAndModels.html

And the Stradelele is here:

http://www.earnestinstruments.com/strad-uke/

Mivo
10-09-2015, 05:45 PM
The Stradelele that John King played is described as a concert on the maker's site, but the scale length is listed as 13 5/8', which is closer to the 13' of a standard soprano than the 15' of a standard concert. (link (http://www.earnestinstruments.com/strad-uke/)) Not sure why Joel calls it a concert, actually.

brimmer
10-09-2015, 06:07 PM
I have a few ukes including the Strad that Mivo linked, and I also have a Martin soprano and a Kiwaya concert. The Strad feels closer to the Kiwaya when I hold and play it, compared to when I switch between the martin and the Strad. Mivo is correct about the scale length, but the strad really feels more like a concert sized instrument than a soprano, though technically it is somewhere in between.
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ukuleleden
10-27-2015, 12:50 AM
Not sure if it was previously mentioned or if you are otherwise aware, Kiwaya also makes long neck sopranos which to me is near nirvana for a Soprano tone, a bit more real estate on the fretboard for comfort with the concert scale neck length.