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View Full Version : Koa Flea or Kiwaya KS-1



Astein2006
10-29-2015, 04:10 AM
Im ready to buy. Would you get the Koa Flea or the Kiwaya KS-1 and why? This is my first Uke purchase.

ukulelekarcsi
10-29-2015, 04:44 AM
Equal, but different. Both are precise, loud and sturdy, and cost about the same. Both are rather no-frills, and don't come with a gigbag.

The Kiwaya has one fret more (15 instead of 14), a wooden fretboard and a way thinner neck, but the main difference is in taste: the definitly modern look of the flea versus the definitly traditional look of the Kiwaya.

Astein2006
10-29-2015, 06:11 AM
I heard the tuners on the Kiwaya KS-1 are not that good and was thinking if I got that one that I would upgrade to the UPT tuners. Thoughts on that? Also are the tuners on the Koa Flea any good?

billten
10-29-2015, 06:49 AM
KS1 all the way, smooth as butter, wonderful playability and a wonderful tone. Very different sound to a flea, less boom and more refined. I love the flea but Kiwaya is in another league for sound IMO.

actadh
10-29-2015, 06:54 AM
Just to add another consideration - the Martin OXK is about the same price. It is another equal but different, better built, non solid wood uke option.

Strap buttons or grip strips would be recommended on a first ukulele, too. You have enough to contend with without trying to hold it as well.

The OXK can easily have strap buttons installed . Others might be able to chime in on whether the other two can easily have strap buttons installed.

In place of strap buttons, I know some have put grip strips on their Fleas/Flukes to hold them in place. ( I use rubbery rug pads cut to size placed behind and under my slippery Outdoor Ukulele Tenor.)

Astein2006
10-29-2015, 07:13 AM
Billten would you swap out the stock tuners for UPT on the KS-1? Is it worth the upgrade? Would there be a weight issue to consider if I did?

billten
10-29-2015, 07:46 AM
I would leave it as is. I had a Kiwaya KS5 and stupidly sold it and it's the one uke i most regret selling. It was never top heavy or anything and honestly the tuners were just as smooth and well built as the rest of the uke. Get one and give it a try, i think you will love it...

Oh and i don't think the Martin is close to the Kiwaya in finish or sound. Again just my opinion... :)

brimmer
10-29-2015, 11:20 AM
I prefer the Kiwaya if you are only going to have one uke, but Fleas are a great choice too. If you eventually expect to buy a second uke, go with the Flea because you can bring it anywhere. If you only plan to have one uke, ever, then the Kiwaya is a fine choice. I have five ukes, including a Kiwaya and a Flea, and I wouldn't part with either. Personally I prefer the cheapest Flea I can get. I just saw a used one on the forum for around $100. The koa top doesn't add anything for me. Also, with a Snark I can make do with any stock tuner.

ukuleleden
10-29-2015, 01:05 PM
I prefer the Kiwaya if you are only going to have one uke, but Fleas are a great choice too. If you eventually expect to buy a second uke, go with the Flea because you can bring it anywhere. If you only plan to have one uke, ever, then the Kiwaya is a fine choice.

While I am huge fan of Flukes, Fleas and Fireflys, and happily own a lovely and exquisitely built, playing and sounding Walnut Neck/Rosewood Fretboard Concert Firefly, along with a Custom Koa Tenor Fluke on order that should be on the the way to me so as it nears it's build completion. However, this is where I agree with you that if I were about to purchase either another regular or long neck Soprano, the Kiwaya would by my choice at this moment based on spending time recently comparing several models up and down their price points. I would even consider a Kiwaya if I were shopping for a Concert or Tenor as well, I am that impressed by them and may follow thru my research with a purchase when I recover some of my recent Uke additions...

ScooterD35
10-29-2015, 01:34 PM
Equal, but different. Both are precise, loud and sturdy, and cost about the same. Both are rather no-frills, and don't come with a gigbag.

The Kiwaya has one fret more (15 instead of 14), a wooden fretboard and a way thinner neck, but the main difference is in taste: the definitly modern look of the flea versus the definitly traditional look of the Kiwaya.


Actually, the Koa Flea comes with the hardwood fretboard as standard.

My main Ukes are a Flea, a Fluke, and a Firefly. The Magic Fluke company pretty much gets it right every time. Their instruments are made in the USA from locally sourced materials by some of the nicest, most helpful people on the planet.

The intonation, playability, and durability of Fleas and Flukes is legendary and they also, in my opinion, have the highest "fun to play" rating of any Ukulele on the market today. I can't imagine a better first Uke (or even only Uke) for almost anyone.

Three years ago, for my 50th birthday, my Wife, Son, and Mom said I could spend up to $400 on a new Uke for my present. I custom ordered a concert Tie-Dyed Flea with Rosewood fretboard, Lucy's rainbow tuners, a hard shell case, and a copy of The Daily Ukulele.


Thus endeth the sales pitch:)

Scooter

dsummers
10-29-2015, 02:22 PM
The fleas and Kiwayas are amongst my favorite production ukes in which I have many of both. I have a Koa concert flea which comes with the hardwood fret board and the Koa top is stunning IMO and wonderful sound! I had them install the KK pick-up when I ordered. I also have a Kiwaya KS-5 (laminate Koa)- it has friction gold tuners which seem fine to me- no problems at all. This Kiwaya sounds wonderful also. The acton on both are perfect, the neck profiles are different, but actually they are some of my favorites. If possible, I would try them both before you choose.

brimmer
10-29-2015, 03:18 PM
Actually, the Koa Flea comes with the hardwood fretboard as standard.



If a wood freboard is standard on the koa Flea, that would be a big plus in my book. I could be happy with a Flea as my only uke, with any top wood, as long as it had a wood fretboard. I like the plastic fretboard fine, but I have a little trouble seeing the frets. Anyway, both of your choices will serve you well.

Astein2006
10-29-2015, 04:18 PM
Yes the Koa flea has a wood fretboard as standard. I appreciate all the help and advice. I think I'm going with the Kiwaya first and then I know I want the flea a few months later. I guess this is the start of my UAS.

ScooterD35
10-29-2015, 05:00 PM
The only other thing I would point out is that the KS-1 has a laminate top, and the Koa Flea top is solid. A not insignificant difference.

Welcome to the wonderful world of UAS!


Scooter

Astein2006
10-29-2015, 07:44 PM
I had been considering waiting and getting the Kiwaya KTS-4. Would take me another two months. Not sure if it would be worth it over the KS-1 the extra dough. Any thoughts?

ukuleleden
10-29-2015, 11:45 PM
I had been considering waiting and getting the Kiwaya KTS-4. Would take me another two months. Not sure if it would be worth it over the KS-1 the extra dough. Any thoughts?

I would definitely say the KTS-4 would be worth the wait since you're considering it. If you bought the KS-1 now, I all but guarantee you would be yearning to upgrade to the KTS-4 anyhow...

ukuleleden
10-30-2015, 01:11 AM
Yes the Koa flea has a wood fretboard as standard. I appreciate all the help and advice. I think I'm going with the Kiwaya first and then I know I want the flea a few months later. I guess this is the start of my UAS.

Before ordering my own Custom Koa Fluke, I played another extensively and loved it! Simply becuase I was personally visited the Magic Fluke Co. and Phyliss Webb (Dale's wife and company co-owner) personally assisted and allowed my to hand select the Koa top wood and the fretboard wood to be used on a custom build is the reason I decided to order one instead of buying an already built example.

Make no mistake, even their lower priced instruments are hand build with the same great attention to detail they put into their higher spec's models. Even with all the upgraded options of peghead tuned, solid wood tops and B-Band electronics, the price is still crazy competitive for these great ukuleles that excel in comparison to many Ukes in and above their price points... Bottom line you can't go wrong with having either a flea and a Kiwaya. Nothing wrong with having one of each either..:cool:

Astein2006
10-30-2015, 03:30 AM
Before ordering my own Custom Koa Fluke, I played another extensively and loved it! Simply becuase I was personally visited the Magic Fluke Co. and Phyliss Webb (Dale's wife and company co-owner) personally assisted and allowed my to hand select the Koa top wood and the fretboard wood to be used on a custom build is the reason I decided to order one instead of buying an already built example.

Make no mistake, even their lower priced instruments are hand build with the same great attention to detail they put into their higher spec's models. Even with all the upgraded options of peghead tuned, solid wood tops and B-Band electronics, the price is still crazy competitive for these great ukuleles that excel in comparison to many Ukes in and above their price points... Bottom line you can't go wrong with having either a flea and a Kiwaya. Nothing wrong with having one of each either..:cool:
I definitely plan on getting the Koa Flea as well. It seems so much more worth it to get it over the base model because for only say $120 more you get the Koa top, wood fretboard and bridge. What do you think of the stock tuners, are they friction? Should I upgrade to the pegheds?

bnolsen
10-30-2015, 04:36 AM
I definitely plan on getting the Koa Flea as well. It seems so much more worth it to get it over the base model because for only say $120 more you get the Koa top, wood fretboard and bridge. What do you think of the stock tuners, are they friction? Should I upgrade to the pegheds?

any way you can live with the friction tuners for a while then get the pegheads if you like? Many of us don't mind the friction tuners at all.

dsummers
10-30-2015, 04:39 AM
Unless you absolutely hate friction tuners I would say save your money. I have had the peg head tuners on one of my fleas and they were great. All of my other fleas/flukes I have upgraded to the Grover B 4 ($12.50 additional cost instead of $69 additional cost for the peg heads). They work perfect IMO. I may not play my flea /fluke for months and when I pick up to play again it is still in tune. I also have these tuners on my DaSilva #34 soprano with the same results.

Astein2006
10-30-2015, 05:22 AM
Unless you absolutely hate friction tuners I would say save your money. I have had the peg head tuners on one of my fleas and they were great. All of my other fleas/flukes I have upgraded to the Grover B 4 ($12.50 additional cost instead of $69 additional cost for the peg heads). They work perfect IMO. I may not play my flea /fluke for months and when I pick up to play again it is still in tune. I also have these tuners on my DaSilva #34 soprano with the same results.
Are the Grover's through them or did you do it afterwards? What kind of tuners are the B 4's? Do you have a link. Couldn't find them on a search.

dsummers
10-30-2015, 05:42 AM
To tell you the truth I don't know the difference between the standard B2 that they come with and the B4 that I upgraded for. The reason I got them was because they work so well on my DaSilva soprano so every flea/ fluke I ordered I got them and they work perfect for me. I have read that their standard B2 works well also. I got the Grovers thru them when I ordered my fleas/flukes. The peg heads are great but the B4's kept the tuning just as well and I just like the friction tuners. I currently have on order a spruce top concert fluke on and got the B4's again. I also opted for a poly fret board (my fleas have rosewood fretboard and my current fluke has a poly) and I am having the neck done up in all black like their all black lava. I bet if you call them they can tell you the difference as they are very helpful.

ScooterD35
10-30-2015, 06:17 AM
The B2s and the B4s are both made by Grover.


Scooter

Astein2006
10-30-2015, 09:47 AM
Ok now I'm very conflicted. Will I be missing out on that much more by buy the KS-1 over the KTS-4. I'm trying to reconcile the extra $230.

ScooterD35
10-30-2015, 10:14 AM
Here's the thing...

You know you want both the Koa Flea and a Kiwaya of some sort and let's face it, you're one of us so you're going to end up both of them eventually. If you get the Flea now (since you already know what you want) you can then take your time making a decision on the Kiwaya.


Scooter

brimmer
10-30-2015, 12:14 PM
The stock tuners on the Flea are fine with me. Can't suggest between the 2 Kiwayas. I guess if it were me, I would get an entry level Flea to start because it rules the under $200 price point, and then get the solid wood Kiwaya later.

We are all happy to offer advice because it allows us to enjoy the vicarious experience of spending someone else's money on ukes. But this is a road you must travel alone. I know you will choose wisely and enjoy your new uke, whatever it is...

Astein2006
10-30-2015, 02:35 PM
I don't even own a Ukulele yet and I have UAS. I think I'm in trouble. I could get the KS-1 for $285 through HMS and get a basic flea for $200 and still not spend what a KTS-4 would cost. I'm just wondering if a solid wood Ukulele can make that much of a difference in playing happiness.