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View Full Version : Kiwaya KTS-4 after a few days..impressed, but not that impressed and it may go back



sbpark
09-17-2011, 08:15 PM
so i have only had the KTS-4 for a couple daysand there are things that i love about it, other things that i am not so in love with...

first, it's a beautiful instrument no doubt, wonderful to look at, fit and finish are nice and the neck feels good. those are the good points. the things i do not like are the VERY low action. low enough that it buzzes quite a bit unless you play very gingerly. it doesn't have that 'plunk' that i would like to hear because when you try and dig in it craps out/buzzes. this may be corrected if i raise the action, which would mean having a new nut and saddle made (with an instrument of this quality i feel like it would be poor form to just shim the nut), and like i mentioned previously the nut sits very loose in the bridge which means a decrease in sound transfer, and the intonation is off as you play up the neck. all of these things i was initially ok with because they could probably be corrected with a good set up, but after some thought i sort of changed my mind. i feel that if you pay this much for a hand crafted uke from a well respected maker these issues should not be present. i emailed to dealer i bought the uke from, and was told that he would be getting a couple more KTS-4 models in this week and i could compare the one i have against them, which i may do, or i may just retun it and continue my search. the more i play it i realize i am not really a super low action kind of player. this uke isnt as loud as others have commented KTS-4's as being, and i feel the low action contributes to this. i'm looking for that clunky, chunky sound. believe it or not i am going to check out the new Martin S-1 tomorrow as well. who knows...

Ken Middleton
09-17-2011, 10:57 PM
I have an STS-4 and rate it very highly. I would say be careful about getting a Mexican Martin instead. I haved never played one of these that even came close to an all-solid Kiwaya. The only new Martins in the same league (IMO) are the new series 2 instruments which are made in the factory in Nazareth.

Kiwayas do not usually arerive from the factory with a low action. Are you sure that it isn't the dealer fiddling with it to make the action stupidly low because he thinks that this is what people want?

micromue
09-17-2011, 11:47 PM
Im with Ken on this. I have never played a solid Kiwaya with especially low action. I actually like them for their general qualities as strummers. Sounds like a bad choice of set-up to me. Return it and get a new one.

EDW
09-18-2011, 01:26 AM
+1 on the comments above. I would try the others that come in. The one you have seems unlike standard issue Kiwayas

iDavid
09-18-2011, 02:52 AM
KoAloha Soprano.... maybe

Ken Middleton
09-18-2011, 03:03 AM
KoAloha Soprano.... maybe

A very nice instrument, but just about as far away from a mahogany Kiwaya as you can get.

bynapkinart
09-18-2011, 03:56 AM
You could jump to an Ohana SK38...

NatalieS
09-18-2011, 05:39 AM
I agree with the others... I've had a KTS-4 and it didn't come with low action or buzzing. The action was perfect, in fact. I'd investigate and make sure the dealer isn't messing with the ukes before they're sent out. A Kiwaya doesn't really need any tinkering, it's made well from the get-go.

Pukulele Pete
09-18-2011, 05:48 AM
I was not impressed with mine until I changed the strings. I think it is as close to perfect as you can get.

sbpark
09-18-2011, 06:36 AM
yeah, the action is really low, and i guess they come with Freemont strings which feel like they may be a bit higher tension then the Worth CM that i put on there now, which, in my opinion would explain why it didn't buzz when i played it with the Freemonts, but buzzes now with the Worth Clear Mediums.

As far as getting a Koaloha soprano, this to me is comparing apples and oranges. i have a Koaloha concert and want a moahogany soprano.

I would love to have an SK-38 but theses are still on waiting to come in and their arrival date is constantly getting pushed back all the time. The SK-28 was my roiginal choice.

The dealer now called me this morning and told me just to bring it back. i asked him if he already received the new ones and he said no, that it would be best to just bring back the uke. so my dilema is do i just chalk up the set up to the fact that he messed with it and it can be corrected by my set up guy (who is amazing by the way and does excellent work) and that after the set up from him it will be fine, or is this one that squeaked through at the factory? from what i have read about these, i have never come across ANY negative feedback or reviews and they alwyas get high marks. the dealer i got it from is also a high end classical guitar dealer/importer, knows his stuff, and told me that he sets up every guitar personally that comes through his doors, and that the Kiwayas apparently dont need any work done to them, and also told me that i 'probably need a concert size, not a soprano, because every soprano i encounter will have the same intonation issues', so i am not sure what to believe. i want to give the guy the benefit of the doubt and he was incredibly nice to deal with. when asking him about the loose saddle which slides right out when all the strings are off, he told me thats not right and that when the instrument is turned upside down the saddle should stay in place. plus, i drove 160 miles round trip just to get the uke instead of ordering it from an online dealer. so do i take it to my guy, have him work his magic and set it up properly, or drive the 160 miles roundtrip to return it?! decisions, decisions!

as far as a martin not coming close to a Kiwaya. I am WELL aware of this, but am after a sound more than anything. i know they are worlds apart as far as craftsmanship, fit, and finish.

NatalieS
09-18-2011, 08:32 AM
If the Kiwaya came to you brand new and sounding like that, I'd return it. I wouldn't take a risk on having someone alter it in hopes that it'll fix it. What if it doesn't? Then you'll be stuck with a uke you're still not happy with, and it won't be returnable at all.

I'm also not sure what your dealer meant when he said that all soprano Kiwayas will have similar intonation issues. That doesn't make any sense to me and seems like a very generalized statement, particularly when it's referring to a company that is known for its stellar sopranos.

Just my two cents... but I'd take it back and get a replacement.

strumsilly
09-18-2011, 09:59 AM
Well ,you are one of the few people who doesn't seem to be in love with their Kiwaya. I have had 2 and they seem to be as near to perfect as you can get in their price range. Before I did anything else, I'd change the strings again. Changing mine from the stock strings to Worth browns didn't seem to alter the action much, but who knows, it's an easy experiment. If that doesn't change things , send it back for another, these are really nice ukuleles and every one I've seen has been nearly perfect, they seem to have impeccable quality control, maybe you got that one bad one, I don't think that will happen twice.

buddhuu
09-18-2011, 01:36 PM
From the OP's description I see no reason to believe this is really a Kiwaya QC issue. It sounds very much like a setup issue.

If the OP has the uke set up by someone who swaps out the original nut and saddle without damaging them (saving them for replacement in the event that a well set up nut and saddle don't cure the issues), then I would personally see no problem with trying a setup first. If it doesn't help I would simply replace the original, unaltered parts and return the uke in its as-received condition.

YMMV.

sbpark
09-18-2011, 01:41 PM
From the OP's description I see no reason to believe this is really a Kiwaya QC issue. It sounds very much like a setup issue.

If the OP has the uke set up by someone who swaps out the original nut and saddle without damaging them (saving them for replacement in the event that a well set up nut and saddle don't cure the issues), then I would personally see no problem with trying a setup first. If it doesn't help I would simply replace the original, unaltered parts and return the uke in its as-received condition.

YMMV.

this was what i was going to do originally, but ended up just returning it earlier today. yes, it could have most likely been corrected with a new nut and saddle, but given what these cost i feel like it shouldnt have to be done at this level of cost and quality. if it was a lower end uke i would expect to have a full set up, but with one of these it should be pretty close to perfect out of the box (obviously perfect is different for everyone, but i felt like with this particular instrument it was too many small issues adding up, so i just took it back.)

Flockheart
09-18-2011, 10:21 PM
I wonder if Kiwaya's quality control has dropped quiet steeply in the last year, maybe due to increased ukulele demand?

I initially was interested in Kiwaya ukes after the glowing reviews, especially regarding the quality of the finish. I purchased my first Kiwaya online in February this year (a KS-1 laminate) and returned it due to a few scuffs in the finish. I asked the store I purchased it from if they had an ummarked replacement, they checked the other two they had in stock and they were both a bit dinged up.

I managed to get a clean example from another online seller, which I have been very happy with, so I assumed that maybe the first store wasn't handling/storing them very well.

However last month I stumped up the money for a solid KTS-4 from a third online retailer, this had a similar scuff in the finish, and a dent/score across the fretboard (like someone had slipped with a tool). The soundhole was cut pretty roughly and wasn't a very neat circle at all. It also had a buzzing string. Sadly I had to return it too as it was a beautiful looking and sounding uke but I didn't feel it should have those issues for the price.

It's a real shame as I really like my KS-1 and would love to own a KTS-4 but am apprehensive about ordering another one based on the consistancy I've experienced so far.

strumsilly
09-19-2011, 09:36 AM
I wonder if Kiwaya's quality control has dropped quiet steeply in the last year, maybe due to increased ukulele demand?

I initially was interested in Kiwaya ukes after the glowing reviews, especially regarding the quality of the finish. I purchased my first Kiwaya online in February this year (a KS-1 laminate) and returned it due to a few scuffs in the finish. I asked the store I purchased it from if they had an ummarked replacement, they checked the other two they had in stock and they were both a bit dinged up.

I managed to get a clean example from another online seller, which I have been very happy with, so I assumed that maybe the first store wasn't handling/storing them very well.

However last month I stumped up the money for a solid KTS-4 from a third online retailer, this had a similar scuff in the finish, and a dent/score across the fretboard (like someone had slipped with a tool). The soundhole was cut pretty roughly and wasn't a very neat circle at all.

WOW,I'm really sorry to hear this. I had hoped one day to get a KTC-2, I might just have to hold out for an older [used] one. Maybe they were damaged while being displayed. but there is no excuse for a rough soundhole at this level.

Flockheart
09-19-2011, 09:50 AM
WOW,I'm really sorry to hear this. I had hoped one day to get a KTC-2, I might just have to hold out for an older [used] one. Maybe they were damaged while being displayed. but there is no excuse for a rough soundhole at this level.

I may have just been really unlucky, most Kiwaya owners seem to have received perfect ukes. If you can buy in person that would obviously help you get a good one, sadly there's no dealers near me so buying blind online is my only option.

arashi_nero
09-26-2011, 07:30 PM
just looking through this thread. i'm sorry the op got a bad uke. when i was in japan a couple of months ago, i got to play a few kiwaya and a couple of their lower-level famous brand ukes. all were solid koa and played very well. if i had a few hundred bucks, i would have bought one. but i do agree, i think unless you absolutely trust the person you are buying from, you do need to play the ukes in a store before you buy.

WireUke
09-27-2011, 05:39 AM
I wonder if Kiwaya's quality control has dropped quiet steeply in the last year, maybe due to increased ukulele demand?

I initially was interested in Kiwaya ukes after the glowing reviews, especially regarding the quality of the finish. I purchased my first Kiwaya online in February this year (a KS-1 laminate) and returned it due to a few scuffs in the finish. I asked the store I purchased it from if they had an ummarked replacement, they checked the other two they had in stock and they were both a bit dinged up.

I managed to get a clean example from another online seller, which I have been very happy with, so I assumed that maybe the first store wasn't handling/storing them very well.

However last month I stumped up the money for a solid KTS-4 from a third online retailer, this had a similar scuff in the finish, and a dent/score across the fretboard (like someone had slipped with a tool). The soundhole was cut pretty roughly and wasn't a very neat circle at all. It also had a buzzing string. Sadly I had to return it too as it was a beautiful looking and sounding uke but I didn't feel it should have those issues for the price.

It's a real shame as I really like my KS-1 and would love to own a KTS-4 but am apprehensive about ordering another one based on the consistancy I've experienced so far.

I had to return a KS-1 earlier this year because i was not happy with the fretboard. It was advertised as being a rosewood fretboard, but when i
received it I noticed the fretboard was scratched, and they had used a lighter wood for the fretboard and stained it a rosewood colour. I was a bit
disappointed with kiwaya, especially as it was advertised as rosewood. It has made me think twice about buying a more expensive kiwaya.

strumsilly
09-27-2011, 06:13 AM
I had to return a KS-1 earlier this year because i was not happy with the fretboard. It was advertised as being a rosewood fretboard, but when i
received it I noticed the fretboard was scratched, and they had used a lighter wood for the fretboard and stained it a rosewood colour. I was a bit
disappointed with kiwaya, especially as it was advertised as rosewood. It has made me think twice about buying a more expensive kiwaya.

It clearly states on their website that the KS-0,0P,1,2P HAVE WALNUT FRETBOARDS, all the rest HAVE ROSEWOOD. maybe the dealer just got confused.
http://www.kiwayaukuleles.com/kiwayaukuleles.html

WireUke
09-27-2011, 10:00 AM
When I bought my ks-1 earlier this year it stated on the website that the ks-1 had a rosewood fretboard. They have changed their description of the ks-1
in the last few months.