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View Full Version : Kiwaya KSU-1 vs KS-1



Jerryc41
08-23-2018, 03:07 AM
There is a thread about a Kiwaya KSU-1 on eBay for $128. It's described as being "plywood," which means it's a laminate. The laminate KS-1 costs twice as much. Barry gave the KSU-1 a great review. And then there's the laminate KS-5, costing even more. I haven't been able to find any info about the KSU-1.

https://www.gotaukulele.com/2018/07/kiwaya-ksu-1l-long-neck-soprano-review.html

Can any of you make sense of these Kiwaya offerings?

janeray1940
08-23-2018, 04:31 AM
I haven't seen the KSU-1 make it to the U.S. yet (but admittedly I haven't been in the market, so not looking too hard). I do recall reading that it's the first uke from Kiwaya to be made in China rather than their factory in Japan, so I'm going to guess it's more similar to other mass-produced China-made starter ukes than it is to Kiwaya-made ukes actually made in Japan.

The Kiwaya KS-5 is laminate koa, and the KS-1 is laminate mahogany, which might account for the price difference.

Pirate Jim
08-23-2018, 04:55 AM
It seems to me the answer you're looking for is in the blog post of Barry's that you link to - he explains the difference between the KSU vs KS models right at the start of it.

KS = made in Japan, very high quality materials and impeccable fit and finish
KSU = made in China, lower grade materials and lower standards of fit and finish but still excellent for the price

Jerryc41
08-23-2018, 07:36 AM
It seems to me the answer you're looking for is in the blog post of Barry's that you link to - he explains the difference between the KSU vs KS models right at the start of it.

KS = made in Japan, very high quality materials and impeccable fit and finish
KSU = made in China, lower grade materials and lower standards of fit and finish but still excellent for the price

Thanks. I read that, but I guess it didn't sink in. For twice the price, I'd think twice about getting a KS-1.

EDW
08-23-2018, 08:20 AM
I will say that the KS-1 is a fantastic instrument (as well as its Japan Version, the Famous FS-1). It plays and sounds amazing and far better than one might expect for the price

Pirate Jim
08-23-2018, 09:40 AM
Thanks. I read that, but I guess it didn't sink in. For twice the price, I'd think twice about getting a KS-1.

Jerry, I've seen your list of ukes, we both know you'd get both in the first instance then decide whether to sell one!

Ziret
08-23-2018, 01:48 PM
It seems to me the answer you're looking for is in the blog post of Barry's that you link to - he explains the difference between the KSU vs KS models right at the start of it.

KS = made in Japan, very high quality materials and impeccable fit and finish
KSU = made in China, lower grade materials and lower standards of fit and finish but still excellent for the price

I don't remember lower grade materials being part of it. I'm not sure how to verify it, either.

Ukecaster
08-23-2018, 02:04 PM
I have a KS-1 soprano...it is wonderful, everything Barry said, and it stacks up very well against my vintage Martin sops, just a less complex, a more one dimensional sound, but still very very nice.

I also have the China-made concert KCU-1. Looks great, but a less well made uke, with a few little imperfections you would not see on the Japan-made model. Also does not sound as good, but I'm still experimenting with strings. But, at half the price of a Japan Kiwaya, I thought it was worth a try, from Rakuten Global. More to follow.

Pirate Jim
08-24-2018, 12:25 AM
I don't remember lower grade materials being part of it. I'm not sure how to verify it, either.

The tuners are cheaper, but otherwise you're right, I'm just making an assumption based on the price difference. Actually there's no reason to assume they've sourced different laminate for the body. If you've got a good source, why change it?

Jerryc41
08-24-2018, 12:59 AM
...with a few little imperfections you would not see on the Japan-made model.

Are these flaws in the finish that someone could repair?

Ukecaster
08-24-2018, 04:21 AM
Are these flaws in the finish that someone could repair?

I suppose, but wouldn't be worth the cost of repairs, for me. They are small flaws that you need to look closely to spot.

Jerryc41
08-24-2018, 04:59 AM
I suppose, but wouldn't be worth the cost of repairs, for me. They are small flaws that you need to look closely to spot.

I mean DIY repairs.

Ziret
08-24-2018, 05:28 AM
The tuners are cheaper, but otherwise you're right, I'm just making an assumption based on the price difference. Actually there's no reason to assume they've sourced different laminate for the body. If you've got a good source, why change it?

Thanks, that makes sense.

The saddle is uncompensated too, though that's unlikely to make any difference.

ukeinfused
08-24-2018, 05:42 AM
I have a KS-1 soprano...it is wonderful, everything Barry said, and it stacks up very well against my vintage Martin sops, just a less complex, a more one dimensional sound, but still very very nice.

I also have the China-made concert KCU-1. Looks great, but a less well made uke, with a few little imperfections you would not see on the Japan-made model. Also does not sound as good, but I'm still experimenting with strings. But, at half the price of a Japan Kiwaya, I thought it was worth a try, from Rakuten Global. More to follow.

Considering all the same factors. Is there another thread about the regular soprano KSU-1 besides Barry's review of the long neck?

Ukecaster, I'm enthusiastic to hear what you think after a good set of strings are installed on your concert...