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View Full Version : belated NUD - buying a Famous from J-Guitar/Ukulele Mania in Tokyo



janeray1940
07-14-2017, 03:40 PM
If you've followed any of my recent posts, you know I've become smitten with Kiwaya ukes. This has led to a bit of curiosity about Kiwaya's labels sold in Japan, mainly Famous and Luna.

A recent day trip/beach day made me realize that I don't have a "beater" uke, and I've been overwhelmed and unimpressed by the usual lower-end choices available at my local shop. I was considering a Mexico-made Martin soprano for my beach uke, but I haven't met one I enjoyed playing, so I started looking into Kiwaya's lower end line, Famous, which is hugely popular and readily available in Japan, but hard to come by stateside.

After a bit of emailing back and forth, I settled on this uke (http://www.j-guitar.com/eng/product_id29645.html). I contacted Ukulele Mania (http://www.ukulelemania.net/english/index.html) via J-Guitar (http://www.j-guitar.com/). Even though I can get by in Japanese fairly well, I was relieved to find that the owners speak English and they answered my questions really thoroughly and promptly. After a bit of back and forth, I figured it was worth the roughly $300 the exchange rate worked out to, and Paypaled them my funds.

Two days later the uke showed up at my door. Two days! I couldn't believe it. Despite only having a gig bag, I found the uke arrived safe and sound. I had been worried about it clearing customs or getting hit with some sort of import tax, but had no problems there.

As for the uke - while it will by no means replace my higher-end ukes, the thing is a blast to play. It's a longneck soprano with 20 frets and plenty of volume. The intonation gets a bit sharp on the A string past the 10th fret, but that might be solved by a string change - aside from that, it's about 100% better than any comparably-priced uke from the Chinese manufacturers that I tried at my local shop.

One observation: the nut with on this Famous is a teensy bit wider than my Kiwayas, so those who are under the impression that they are identical would be mistaken. I'm pretty sure the neck and nut width on the Famous are the same as the Kiwaya "Eco-Series" KS-0P thinline pineapple I once owned (my onetime "beater" uke) - a thicker neck and a wider nut than I personally like, but for some reason on the Famous the playability is better for me than it was on the KS-0P. Still though - if you're looking for that slim Kiwaya neck, you may be disappointed by a Famous.

I've lifted a photo from Ukulele Mania's site - click the link in my third paragraph if you're interested in more.

kohanmike
07-14-2017, 06:33 PM
Good for you J, enjoy.

SoloRule
07-15-2017, 01:14 AM
This looks so cute. Great review!
The price is right too
Sound sample please

natchez
07-15-2017, 04:12 AM
Congrats, lovely looking ukulele. Enjoy! I keep a Famous FLS-60 in the office; it is fun to play and I do not have to worry about it.

janeray1940
07-15-2017, 07:08 AM
This looks so cute. Great review!
The price is right too
Sound sample please

I don't really have the time or setup to record myself playing, but there's a demo from Kiwaya here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBsbI9TWJS0) that sounds pretty spot-on to me. Sorry, but for some reason I can't get that particular video to embed.


Congrats, lovely looking ukulele. Enjoy! I keep a Famous FLS-60 in the office; it is fun to play and I do not have to worry about it.

It's fun to have a worry-free uke that actually plays and sounds good! I'm happy that I found the right one for me.

SoloRule
07-15-2017, 09:02 AM
The YouTube sounds good.
I visited their homepage and click on stock but don't see any products .
What did I do wrong ?

janeray1940
07-15-2017, 11:22 AM
The YouTube sounds good.
I visited their homepage and click on stock but don't see any products .
What did I do wrong ?

It links out from their Stock button to J-Guitar, here (http://www.j-guitar.com/shop_detail/stock/1885). The English version is here (http://www.j-guitar.com/eng/instruments?data[shop]=1885) but might have fewer products listed.

Dionysis
01-11-2019, 08:33 AM
It links out from their Stock button to J-Guitar, here (http://www.j-guitar.com/shop_detail/stock/1885). The English version is here (http://www.j-guitar.com/eng/instruments?data[shop]=1885) but might have fewer products listed.

Ukulele Mania have also begun posting ukes on reverb. If you don’t see something you like in their reverb store, you can still correspond via reverb and ask what other listings they have. They carry a large inventory of very nice ukes but don’t post them all on reverb. Oh, they also post to ebay at times. They may be able to selk for less through certain channels if they don’t have to pay fees to the venue. So direct contact may yield the best price, just food for thought. I don’t know for sure.