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View Full Version : New Uke Day...Kiwaya KTS-4



sbpark
09-15-2011, 04:59 PM
so I finally took the plunge and picked up a soprano uke today. was originally going to pick up a KS-1 mahogany laminate, which was very nice, but made the mistake of also trying out the KTS-4 and it was all over from there!

i took my Ohana CK-35 and my Koaloha concery with me to compare, and also got to play it against a vintage matin style 0, a Kamaka soprano, and a Kiwaya KTS-5, and a Kiwaya KTC-2.

The one thing that I was surprised at was that hands down, my Koaloha concert had the most complex, wonderful sound of ANY instrument I played today, and the Ohana stacked up REALLY well, also, and believe it or not has perfect intonation up the entire neck (thanks Fred at The Repair Zone for the expert set ups!).

I enjoyed the KS-1, but to my ears it still sounds distinctly like a lminate. the fit and finish were very nice, but it didn't blow my mind. I think after a good set up and replacing the nut and saddle with bone would really made it a great instrument though.

The other thing that also surprised me was the huge difference in tone between the KTS-5 and the KTS-4. The only difference is the extended fingerboard on the KTS-5, but they were night and day difference as far as sound. the KTS-4 was more even, smoother, more pleasing to my ear (which worked out for the better, because even if it did sound better to my ear, I couldn't afford the KTS-5!) Compared to the vintage Martin style 0 i played I have to say i liked to sound of the KTS-4. To be honest, i really didnt hear ANY real similarities in sound between the vintage Martin style 0 and the KTS-4. Both were totally, tonally different. The martin was almost a tad thinner sounding but still had that 'plunk' that i identify with martin, while again, the KTS-4 was more even all around, mellower and more pleasing.

On my way home I stopped by Buffalo Bros. Guitars to pick up a case (no luck), but also played a few of their ukuleles including a National and a Kamaka soprano & Kamaka concert. Hands down I thought the Kamakas were thin, lifeless and uninsripring and was crushed by my Koaloha, but the Kamakas win head and shoulders over the Koaloha for fit, finish and feel since they both played like butter and felt amazing.

When I got home I got rid of the awful strings that Kiwaya uses and installed a set of Worth Clear Mediums and could not believe how much louder and puncher this little uke was; maybe a little too much actually, so i took them off and put on a set of Worth Borown Mediums because they seemed to work for my Mahogany Ohana concert. The Worth Browns just seem to compliment Mahogany and enhance to warmth and richness and instantly gave the KTS-4 a more -vintage-y' sound, but obviously not as loud. With both the Worth Clears & Browns there is a touch of midrange 'muddiness' with the KTS-4, but guessing that's just the sound of this particular instrument.

Fit and finish are great, but it does need a set up. it has a slight buzz on the C string and action is probably just a touch too low, and the intonation is a tad bit off, even with the compensated saddle, but the interesting thing is when the uke is tuned A, D, F#, B the intonation is spot on. The stock compensated bone saddle sits surprisingly loose in the bride, so this coupled with the minor intonation issue i may just have my repair guy make a new bone saddle. neck feels wonderful and it feels very smooth, no fret sprout or sharp edges. I've never bought an instrument new that hasn't needed a full set up and going over, no matter how expensive it was, so at this point I am not too worried about it.

Sorry for the poor quality pictures. I recently moved and haven't unpacked my camera and took these with my phone.

http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/2011-09-15185233-1.jpg

http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/2011-09-15185337-1.jpg

http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/2011-09-15185308-1.jpg

http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/2011-09-15145801-1.jpg

hungry4adobo
09-15-2011, 05:11 PM
I really like the simple look of your kiwaya. Simple and Clean. Enjoy. :D

mds725
09-15-2011, 05:49 PM
Congratulations on your new ukulele, and thanks for the review! The new uke looks really nice.

janeray1940
09-15-2011, 06:30 PM
Happy new uke day! I think you made an excellent choice. Interesting that the KTS-5 was inferior in sound - that's one that I've been eyeing since I like the extended fretboard.

One note about the Kamakas - they probably had stock Kamaka strings, which to my ear are dull and lifeless. I prefer the sound of fluorocarbons on my Kamakas (Martin M600 or Worth Clear Medium).

OldePhart
09-16-2011, 12:51 PM
Personally, if the intonation is spot-on tuned up a step I'd leave it there and be glad I have a good uke in D tuning!

Kiwayas do have low action, at least if my KSL-02 is any indication. Honestly, I love that in a struming uke. If you're picking or have a really heavy hand your mileage may vary.

Just my $0.02.

John

sbpark
09-16-2011, 02:08 PM
Personally, if the intonation is spot-on tuned up a step I'd leave it there and be glad I have a good uke in D tuning!

Kiwayas do have low action, at least if my KSL-02 is any indication. Honestly, I love that in a struming uke. If you're picking or have a really heavy hand your mileage may vary.

Just my $0.02.

John

it is set up really lowandplays great, but the downside is you cant really 'dig in', so i think th ebest thing to do would be to take it to my guy next week and have him set it up, maybe make a new nut and saddle for it which will fix the action and intonation issue.

didgeridoo2
09-16-2011, 02:56 PM
it is set up really lowandplays great, but the downside is you cant really 'dig in', so i think th ebest thing to do would be to take it to my guy next week and have him set it up, maybe make a new nut and saddle for it which will fix the action and intonation issue.
Does it have the compensated saddle from Kiwaya? The two that I own came set up really well with no intonation issues to speak of. The strings are crap and I switched em out immediately, but the factory setup was solid, IMO.

**I can see from the pics you have the saddle from the factory**

sbpark
09-16-2011, 03:44 PM
Does it have the compensated saddle from Kiwaya? The two that I own came set up really well with no intonation issues to speak of. The strings are crap and I switched em out immediately, but the factory setup was solid, IMO.

**I can see from the pics you have the saddle from the factory**

yeah, it's the stock compensated saddle. i'll just have the guy who has set up my guitars and other 2 ukues to sort it out. he always does an amazing job and has made some really nice nuts and saddles for other instruments for me in the past, and the bone he uses is usually of better quality than what comes on most stock isntruments. i didn't know it, but there are different grades of bone, some softer than others.

Chris Tarman
09-16-2011, 04:30 PM
Congratulations on the new uke. I have a KTS-7 and I LOVE it. It's my main go-to uke. This is like the Style 0 to the KTS-7's Style 3 (I hope that makes sense!).

Trinimon
09-16-2011, 04:47 PM
Congrats on the new uke!

EDW
09-17-2011, 03:45 AM
The Kiwayas are amazing. I have a KTS4 with Worth mediums and it is great- terrific sound and balance, intonation is right on. It is a great playing and sounding instrument. They are better than some luthier instruments I have played.