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View Full Version : Which soprano? Kiwaya or Koaloha



erikro
04-20-2009, 02:57 AM
I am looking at the Koaloha standard and the Kiwaya KTS-4. I know these are two different animals. The Kiwaya gets nothing but great reviews about its sound and craftsmanship. I really like the looks of the Koaloha. One piece top and back is nice. Nothing like a Koa uke from Hawaii.

Thanks,
Erik

Lanark
04-20-2009, 03:15 AM
In the end we both know you'll probably end up with both of them at some point. It's the nature of the beast.

Personally I'd start with the Koaloha. I've got a concert (actually a pair now) which has become first one out of the case on most days and the one that I play for our Ukulele Orchestra. Bright, Loud and beautifully made. I'll get us a soprano at some point for my lovely wife to play.

(Though Mr. Middleton's review of the Kiwaya is pretty intriguing...)

erikro
04-20-2009, 03:29 AM
I do enjoy that review by Ken Middleton. I have watched it several times. He should do that for a living. I could see him having a column in a magazine. You have two Koaloha concert models? Do you play soprano often at all?

Erik

UkeNinja
04-20-2009, 03:43 AM
So I guess you have no way to play them both, or at least one, directly? They are both prety expensive, so if you have the possibility to do so, try and meet "your" uke.

Besides the point maybe, but if you say there is nothing like a Hawaiian made koa uke... either look around more or get the Koaloha ;)

erikro
04-20-2009, 03:47 AM
I wish I could play ahead of time but I dont have any near me.

deach
04-20-2009, 04:46 AM
Both! But I'd rather have the Koaloha.

GX9901
04-20-2009, 04:53 AM
Do you need more than 12 frets? If you do, the KoAloha is not an option since it has just 12 frets. A Kiwaya KTS-5 or above has 17 frets.

Both sound great. I haven't played a KoAloha soprano in a while, but I remember it being loud and bright. I have a Kiwaya KTS-7 that sounds kind of concert-like to me. Not really like a vintage Martin soprano at all. I like it very much.

Basically, between the Kiwaya and KoAloha, you should be happy with either one, so it comes down to styling and the number of frets you need.

CDon
04-20-2009, 05:11 AM
But I'd rather have the Koaloha.
Why, pray tell?

Lanark
04-20-2009, 05:27 AM
I do enjoy that review by Ken Middleton. I have watched it several times. He should do that for a living. I could see him having a column in a magazine. You have two Koaloha concert models? Do you play soprano often at all?

Erik

Yes, two concerts. I saw a twin for the first recently (a 2000 model with one piece top and a round soundhole) and had to bid on it. (Got it pretty cheaply too because of a poor listing.) Part of the thinking is that the wife and I could have matching instruments, but she prefers the soprano scale.

So after getting that one, I haven't been playing soprano quite so much lately. Well that and the lovely wife has kind of taken over the Kelii soprano for herself which was the one I most played. But usually I go back and forth depending on my mood and what's nearest at hand.

Agreed on Mr. Middleton, though I do enjoy his unassuming charm on the vids that might get lost in print.

deach
04-20-2009, 05:54 AM
Why, pray tell?

I've played several Kiwayas, and to be fair, I'm not sure which models. While they were all very nice, they just didn't do anything for me.

Besides loving the people of Koaloha, I've never played a Koaloha I didn't like.

dominicfoundthemooon
04-20-2009, 06:13 AM
i can't speak to the other brand.. i have never played one to my knowldge.. i did play a TON of ukes that i do not remember in Hawaii.. but i will say.. i love my Koaloha Concert uke... it is the best sounding of all! and i even love my unborn Koaloha Tenor that is in the works in the factory... it is a ukulele not a choice!

bbycrts
04-20-2009, 06:23 AM
... it is a ukulele not a choice!

With all due respect to Deach, who was the subject of my previous signature, Dom has just provided me with my new personal motto.

dominicfoundthemooon
04-20-2009, 07:01 AM
With all due respect to Deach, who was the subject of my previous signature, Dom has just provided me with my new personal motto.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS SSSSSSSSS! "said in a Marve Albert tone"

Link
04-20-2009, 09:43 AM
The Kiwaya seems overpriced for a mahogany instrument.

erikro
04-20-2009, 11:07 AM
Everything I have read about it states that it is a well made uke and sounds great.

Baron K
04-20-2009, 10:21 PM
A week ago I hadn't played any of them, nr any other fancy sopranos, but that all changed on saturday when I was invited to a "soprano ukulele blind test" in stockholm! It was totally awesome (albeit a litttle nerdy perhaps...but I am a uke nerd and proud of it!).

There I got to play (if my mind serves me):
Koaloa
Kiwaya
Pete Howlett
Martin (vintage)
Gibson (vintage)
Kamaka
Kaniela
Brüko cedar
Mahalo (thrown in to confuse everybody during the blind test)
Argapa (hand made by Sven, the host of the party and UU member)

And, back to your topic, I can say that both the Koaloa and the Kiwaya struck me as awesome! The sound of the Koaloa got my vote over all the rest in the blind test, but when playing them myself I fell in love with the Kiwaya. It was pure love! So light and smoothe you hardly noticed it in your hands, and so easy to play. Although it's rather plain (exactly like an old martin), in my book it's absolutely beatiful. But then again, to Koaloa won my vote in the blind test for sweetest sound...

You can't go wrong with either one of them I think. (if your biggest problem is to choose between a Koaloa and a Kiwaya, you have a pretty sweet life...)

Cheers

Gaby
04-20-2009, 11:12 PM
I sell both in my store, and love them both!

The Koaloha is bright and 'out there', the Kiwaya mellower and 'finer' - really Japanese in that sense.

You get what you pay for with both ukes. The Kiwaya is not overpriced, nor is the Koaloha.

And yes, I do think you will end up with both too (that is, if you can afford it)!

My store offers a return policy (also with online purchases), and I am sure there are others that do too - when you spend this sort of money you do want to have the option of exchanging it (even if it costs a bit of extra postage).

I don't think you will send either back, but just in the off chance it is just not your thing...

buddhuu
04-20-2009, 11:13 PM
[...] if your biggest problem is to choose between a Koaloa and a Kiwaya, you have a pretty sweet life [...]

Now that's what I call philosophy! :D

fossil
04-21-2009, 02:39 AM
I own both a Kiwaya KTS4 and a Koaloha soprano (although mine is a pineapple). I definitely agree with those who have said you will love either one. Both sound wonderful, are well made, have perfect intonation and are easy to play. The main difference is in the sound. If you prefer the sound of mahogany, go for the Kiwaya. If you prefer the sound of koa, go for the Koaloha. I guarantee you won't be disappointed either way.

erikro
04-21-2009, 02:43 AM
I second that. A is A

Funtick
11-29-2017, 05:33 AM
So, 8 years later... which one is the best choice for playability for a beginner, Kiwaya KTS-7 (36 mm at the nut) or Kanilea Super Soprano (38 mm at the nut)?

I'd prefer Kanile'a premium or master-grade because of looks, but if Kiwaya outperforms Kanile'a & Koaloha in terms of playability, intonation, easy to learn -> then I am sold! I already have Kanile'a Tenor, I want also Soprano size for fun, it is so small! My hands are "Large" size, but thin fingers, I am big enough guy.

Also, this topic started 8 years ago... any updates?

Thanks!

zztush
11-29-2017, 11:21 AM
Hi, Funtick! I prefer 36mm nut. 36mm nut is easier than 38mm for short barre.


So, 8 years later... which one is the best choice for playability for a beginner, Kiwaya KTS-7 (36 mm at the nut) or Kanilea Super Soprano (38 mm at the nut)?

It happens with my big hand friend too.

https://s18.postimg.org/4zaxdqw89/image.png (https://postimages.org/)

Funtick
11-29-2017, 03:11 PM
36mm nut is easier than 38mm for short barre.

Wow ZZ Tush, very interesting viewpoint, I didn't think about it, and thank you so much for the pictures! Then I partially agree with Bill1 because for each Uke I can find proper fingering for sure. I can even play on one string as Paganini :) but then, which one has better playability if we remove 3 strings and leave only one?

And another viewpoint: check videos of our senior member GeorgeUke - George Elmes (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/member.php?90592-GeorgeUke)

This is what I click with; I want to play like him; and my question is not "which one is best for strumming"... here are videos at YouTube for your convenience, https://www.youtube.com/user/GeorgeUke/videos

Bill1: "toss a coin" does not work here. I have $100 Uke with super bad intonation, and I have $2200 Uke (Tenor) with $5 Aquila strings (manufacturer supplied) with wrong intonation at 1st and 3rd strings. So I want to know exactly which one can I trust.

You can say Kiwaya (Kanile'a, and so on) has compensated bridge for example. And you will add that you enjoy low-G tuning. And I'll be crazy with compensated for high-G string and low-G setup. I have perfect pitch. I cannot rely on coins.

You can also say that Oasis are better than Clear Waters. And I'll ask: did you tune radiuses of the nut accordingly? Did you retune your compensated bridge? So, all these strings comparisons are fake and not objective. For example, Aquila strings on $2200 K-series Uke were probable incorrectly stretched (this technique is copy-pasted from one guide to another, but it causes uneven stretch of strings). Or maybe Aquila strings are bad? Uneven stretch-quality-tension? Did anyone test this specific? Many enjoy writing "I replaced strings to another brand and it rings better now" but did you try to replace with strings from the same brand?

And also... weight plays role. Balance. Which one will feel like feather in your hands? Heavier weight, but properly balanced, will feel like feather. But for example disbalanced will feel heavy even if it is super light.


Again... https://www.youtube.com/user/GeorgeUke/videos prefers Japanese brand for his style of playing because of real reasons, and it is not "You could toss a coin to decide".

Update: for example, new Kanile'a KCS series: UV High Gloss body, and silk neck, they are definitely care about us, players. Silk neck is smooth. Ebony fingerboard is heavier and even more expensive than rosewood, and I believe it transforms overtones spectrum better than soft rosewood. Just an example of points to consider. Different instruments differ by subsets of overtones indeed. Steel strings vs. nylon, and so on. Don't tell me steel has better playability for beginner :)

Ziret
11-29-2017, 06:46 PM
Maybe you could talk to George about it. My feeling, however, is if you want to play like George, get the Kiwaya. It's classic mahogany and will give you that classic mahogany sound that his playing embodies. Kanilea is Koa. Furthermore, I have a feeling if you get anything else you'll just be wondering if you should have got the Kiwaya. As far as playability goes, I don't think you can do better than Kiwaya, but from my experience with playing their tenor, I suspect Kanilea is about equal to the Kiwaya. As far as sound, they are quite different. I like them both.

Dionysis
01-30-2018, 08:33 AM
I know this is a very old thread, but I am struggling with choosing between a Koaloha Pikake soprano and a Kiwaya KTS-4.

That is what this thread is about. Not Kanilea, nor Koaloa (a different brand than Koaloha), nor is it about strings.
So if any reply to my post, please tell me of your experiences with these two, if you’ve had them.

EDW
01-30-2018, 09:00 AM
I know this is a very old thread, but I am struggling with choosing between a Koaloha Pikake soprano and a Kiwaya KTS-4....

So if any reply to my post, please tell me of your experiences with these two, if you’ve had them.

I had a Kiwaya KTS-4 a few years ago. It was one of the best instruments I have played- great sound, action, intonation, balance, lightly built with lots of resonance. I cannot compare the two, but if you bought one of these I don't think you could go wrong.

Ziret
01-31-2018, 09:12 AM
They are both fantastic ukes, both play well, etc. Aside from obvious differences of appearances, they sound entirely different. Only you can decide which you prefer. Or you may end up wanting both. They are each classic in their own way.