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View Full Version : Kiwaya Eco Vs Famous



theboss
02-20-2016, 07:17 PM
Anyone know what the difference is? I know they are both laminates, but I was wondering which is better. Thanks

igorthebarbarian
02-21-2016, 05:57 PM
I'm not sure as I've never had a Kiwaya, but I believe Famous is their budget line. It may only be readily available in Japan.
I bought my 3 Famous'es online rather blindly/leap of faith based on the Kiwaya relationship. I bought 2 from Amazon.com (free shipping via prime) and 1 from guitar planet/via Rakuten.

The FS-5G is beautiful and light - I think this one's very similar to KS-5 Kiwaya version, which HMS has:
http://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/brand/kiwaya/kiwaya-ukulele-ks-5-koa-soprano.html

The FS-0G thin one is great --- youtube virtuoso WS64 (who is phenomenal) has the Kiwaya KS-0 version.

The FS-1G is good too but rather plain. I would have liked it with a gloss finish to make it "pop" a little better. It's a little homely. HMS has the Kiwaya KS-1 version:
http://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/brand/kiwaya/kiwaya-ks-1-mahogany-soprano.html

All have lovely low action/great intonation. I think these come universally well set-up/ don't require much lowering of the action (kind of like Fleas and Flukes in that way). I obviously really like them.

But I don't think they're very popular/known here at all... I'm sure that is partially because they're pricey for an all-laminate. But I'm in Arizona so for me, that was actually one of the selling features.

marimorimo
02-22-2016, 03:38 AM
*Disclaimer: My info comes solely from poking around Kiwaya's Japanese site, as I'm planning to buy a Japan-made ukulele when I visit Tokyo in March. I read Japanese.*

First of all, Kiwaya is a brand used by the Kiwaya company for the ukuleles they sell outside Japan. In Japan, you won't find a "Kiwaya" branded ukulele. Instead, Kiwaya sells all kinds of ukuleles, including those from other makers in addition to their 3 in-house brands:

1) FAMOUS
Ukuleles under the "Famous" brand are considered beginner ukes. Not because they're low quality but because they are laminates. The craftsmanship is still Japanese-quality, with attention to detail. Most Japanese people starting out buy a Famous uke. I believe this is what most people refer to when they talk about Kiwaya laminates.

2) F
Considered the high-end brand of the "Famous" line because the entire lineup is made of solid wood.

3) Luna
Totally different brand from "Luna Guitars." The brand has changed ownership through the years until it came under Kiwaya in the late nineties. Their lineup is also all solid-wood.

Kiwaya's Japanese website: http://www.kiwayasbest.com/

Hope that helps.

(Just as a side note, I'm also interested in getting a Japan-made ukulele because based on my experience with Japanese craftsmanship, their quality is precise and top-notch. Their products may be more expensive but you really do get what you pay for. Not that craftsmen from other countries don't make good products, but in general there is some variation...you might get a totally awesome ukulele but if you're unlucky you might get a lemon. In Japan the odds of getting a lemon are fairly low. They're also really good at making products that feel good and easy to use. This applies not only to ukuleles but products in general)

pluck
02-22-2016, 09:06 AM
The tuners appear to be different.

theboss
02-22-2016, 10:18 AM
Thanks for the info everyone!

M3Ukulele
02-22-2016, 12:17 PM
Cool you can read Japanese. I'd love to pick up a Uke on a visit to Japan. As I can't ready the site, do any of the Famous, F or Luna brands have tenors?

I've read good things about the Kiwaya and Famous laminates but never played one as I only play tenor.
thanks

igorthebarbarian
02-22-2016, 01:40 PM
Awesome. Thank you that someone can read Japanese here! I would love to try them out at a store sometime.

I do wish they had more Kiwaya/Famous sizes. Most of the ones I have and have seen are Sopranos only. They do appear to specialize in that size though - and with specialization comes the ability to be really consistently awesome.

I appreciate the thin/lightweight build of them.

Tuners do seem to be different. All 3 of my Famous ones are geared. Most of the Kiwaya's I see are friction tuners.

marimorimo
02-23-2016, 12:47 AM
As I can't ready the site, do any of the Famous, F or Luna brands have tenors?


Looking at their inventory, yes, their products are overwhelmingly sopranos but they have a good selection of concerts and a handful of tenors as well. I put together a list of the available Concert and Tenor models available on their site as of today. However, the forum doesn't allow multiple external links so I put together all the info in a blog post here:

http://six-languages-and-counting.blogspot.com/2016/02/kiwaya-ukuleles-concert-tenor.html

By the way, all the Kiwaya brands are made by the luthier/manufacturer in Japan called T's Ukuleles (formerly T's Guitars but he apparently moved to making ukuleles from the late 90s) and they also sell ukuleles under their own brand, "T's Ukulele." Their offerings are solid wood, and they have electric ukuleles as well.

robinboyd
02-23-2016, 01:09 AM
I hadn't heard of Kiwaya before, but I'm intrigued now. I have to say that this limited edition persimmon top, curly koa back and sides number looks gorgeous! http://www.kiwayasbest.com/shopdetail/000000002062/ct185/page1/order/

igorthebarbarian
02-23-2016, 04:13 PM
Thank you for this. I didn't realize they had Concert laminates...


Looking at their inventory, yes, their products are overwhelmingly sopranos but they have a good selection of concerts and a handful of tenors as well. I put together a list of the available Concert and Tenor models available on their site as of today. However, the forum doesn't allow multiple external links so I put together all the info in a blog post here:

http://six-languages-and-counting.blogspot.com/2016/02/kiwaya-ukuleles-concert-tenor.html

By the way, all the Kiwaya brands are made by the luthier/manufacturer in Japan called T's Ukuleles (formerly T's Guitars but he apparently moved to making ukuleles from the late 90s) and they also sell ukuleles under their own brand, "T's Ukulele." Their offerings are solid wood, and they have electric ukuleles as well.

igorthebarbarian
02-23-2016, 04:18 PM
I think that's roughly $3,000! Looks amazing though


I hadn't heard of Kiwaya before, but I'm intrigued now. I have to say that this limited edition persimmon top, curly koa back and sides number looks gorgeous! http://www.kiwayasbest.com/shopdetail/000000002062/ct185/page1/order/

chefuke
02-23-2016, 04:48 PM
The tuners appear to be different.

Correct - Famous offer all ukes with either friction or geared tuners - you can spot the letter G at the end of each model no. Standing for Geared.

robinboyd
02-23-2016, 05:09 PM
I think that's roughly $3,000! Looks amazing though

Yep. Definitely can't afford it. Still gorgeous though. I wonder how persimmon wood sounds...

A.D. Fisha
02-10-2017, 05:04 AM
In my experience, Kiwaya is the best manufacturer of series ukuleles in the world.
I have a KTS-7 and no thing comes as close to an old Martin as this.
"Famous" is the brand name under which Kiwaya sells domestically (Japan)!
No "cheap rubbish", but first-class instruments.
Their laminate is divine.
My little thin Famous Soprano therefore sounds like an angel. ;-)97720

EDW
02-10-2017, 06:14 AM
Kiwaya (or whatever name they use) makes terrific instruments. Even their "budget" line gets raves.

Has anyone here ordered the Famous instruments on eBay or Amazon from the Japanese sellers of there? I see them listed, but sometimes am a little reluctant to order from vendors I don't know across the world. If anyone has experiences with any of these sellers, I would be interested in hearing your experiences.

M3Ukulele
02-10-2017, 11:35 AM
Looking at this old thread, I wonder why there are not thin laminates Kiwaya or famous tenor ukuleles. Everyone raves about Kiwaya thin laminate sopranos but they don't seem to make a tenor laminate. I also after reviewing more understand that Fanous brand is domestic to Japan. Ive run into two Kiwaya all solid tenors in Seattle a few years ago before I really could play. I would think there would be a market for a good Kiwaya laminate tenor. My .02 cents worth.

Ziret
02-10-2017, 12:54 PM
Google does a pretty good job of translating Japanese. I've looked at them online in Tokyo shops and learned a bit, you could try that.

There is a man in the US who sells all sizes. Ron Fernandez. http://www.fernandezmusic.com/Kiwaya_Ukuleles.html For some reason he's a man of mystery in regard to prices--you have to call him--but a friend bought from him and recommended him to me.

From what I can tell, you save about $60 buying in Japan, which is about what it costs to ship here, so it's kind of a wash. I was going to buy there, also, but settled on watching the used market instead.

BearMakingNoises
02-10-2017, 03:43 PM
Two of my students have Famous branded ukes and they are in most shops here for a little over $100 US at the bottom of the range. They are well made and sound pretty good. Kiwaya can be found here too. I have seen them all over Ochanomizu and Ikebukuro. Wandering around Ochanomizu I have come across a crazy number of Asian produced instruments. I think the best quality budget instruments I have come across are from DCT (dreams come true) which are a Korean brand made in China. I have yet to find a bad one from
them.