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View Full Version : Kiwaya KTS-4 vs Ohana SK-38



khairijamian
12-24-2011, 12:07 AM
Hello :)

I don't have any of these instruments, so I don't have any idea which one would sounds better. Both got good reps among UUers, and I'm considering another soprano to be added in the current UAS streak. The KTS-4 had it listed $526.00 and SK-38 for $219.99, both on Uke Republic. Yeah, the Kiwaya doubled the price of Ohana, but, is it worth it? How do you compare these ukes? Also to be taken into consideration, is the new Martin S1 (not the vintage ones). Hope there'll be tons of opinion on this thread!

Thank you! :)

Doc_J
12-24-2011, 01:17 AM
Both are good choices for a Martin-style soprano sound. The KTS-4 is a nicer instrument, finely finished. The sk-38 is a very good instrument, it has an "antiqued" finish so it may look a bit worn. I think the KTS-4 has a slight edge in the sound too, but is 2.5x the price of an sk-38. The sk-38 is modeled after a Style 1, while the KTS-4 is modeled loosely after a style O.

If money is tight the sk-38 is fine choice.

I've owned an sk-38 and a KTS-6K (koa) at the same time and preferred the Kiwaya.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=31374&d=1324728947

byjimini
12-24-2011, 01:23 AM
If you're after a Martin sound, keep an eye on eBay for Ken Timm's soprano ukes.

Pippin
12-24-2011, 03:10 AM
I really like the SK-38 and think that it is a great value.

Plainsong
12-24-2011, 03:45 AM
I was really stunned by the sound of the sk38. For the price, I wasn't expecting much, and I got something that made other more expensive soprano ukes I had feel a bit pointless to keep around. I think they priced these too low. ;)

EDW
12-24-2011, 03:45 AM
The Kiwayas are great players and have a compensated saddle to aid intonation. They are flawlessly finished with great attention to detail and are feather light. I do think they are well worth the money. I have played custom luthier instruments that don't play as well.

khairijamian
12-24-2011, 04:36 AM
Both are good choices for a Martin-style soprano sound. The KTS-4 is a nicer instrument, finely finished. The sk-38 is a very good instrument, it has an "antiqued" finish so it may look a bit worn. I think the KTS-4 has a slight edge in the sound too, but is 2.5x the price of an sk-38. The sk-38 is modeled after a Style 1, while the KTS-4 is modeled loosely after a style O.

If money is tight the sk-38 is fine choice.

I've owned an sk-38 and a KTS-6K (koa) at the same time and preferred the Kiwaya.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=31374&d=1324728947

What do you mean by 'nicer instrument'? Does the KTS-4 qualifies more just in term of looks, finish? In your opinion, which one sounds better?

khairijamian
12-24-2011, 04:38 AM
I was really stunned by the sound of the sk38. For the price, I wasn't expecting much, and I got something that made other more expensive soprano ukes I had feel a bit pointless to keep around. I think they priced these too low. ;)

How much is the actual price of SK-38, if you were the one to decide? :D

khairijamian
12-24-2011, 04:39 AM
If you're after a Martin sound, keep an eye on eBay for Ken Timm's soprano ukes.

Does Ken Timm got his own website? :O

khairijamian
12-24-2011, 04:41 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5RfUuj3Xmc


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BN1DgGqgA_A

Here's the review for both ukes by Ken!

khairijamian
12-24-2011, 05:17 AM
also, is it just myself or the neck of all Ohana soprano ukes are a bit thinner compared to the others?

Doc_J
12-24-2011, 06:34 AM
What do you mean by 'nicer instrument'? Does the KTS-4 qualifies more just in term of looks, finish? In your opinion, which one sounds better?

Kiwaya has a better finish and sound, IMHO. Even the tuners are better quality on the Kiwaya. For 2.5x the price it should nicer.
You might not like the weathered finish on the sk-38. I think it is cool looking but could have done without it.
Don't get me wrong, the sk-38 is the better value of the two. But the Kiwaya is a better instrument. Is it worth the extra $$? Only you can decide that.

khairijamian
12-24-2011, 06:54 AM
Kiwaya has a better finish and sound, IMHO. Even the tuners are better quality on the Kiwaya. For 2.5x the price it should nicer.
You might not like the weathered finish on the sk-38. I think it is cool looking but could have done without it.
Don't get me wrong, the sk-38 is the better value of the two. But the Kiwaya is a better instrument. Is it worth the extra $$? Only you can decide that.

The KTS-4 got satin or gloss finish? Looks go second with me, but will also be taken into account. At 2.5x expensive than the SK-38, I expect a large margin in the term of sound between both of them. How about their necks? Don't you think that Ohanas got slightly thinner necks? My fingers, err they're big.

Ken Middleton
12-24-2011, 07:12 AM
also, is it just myself or the neck of all Ohana soprano ukes are a bit thinner compared to the others?

No, Ohana do not have thinner necks than most other sopranos. But certainly the Kiwaya has a wider neck (almost the same as a tenor), and consequently, some may find that easier to play. Whether the neck is normal or wider masks no difference to me, there is so little difference.

khairijamian
12-24-2011, 08:59 AM
No, Ohana do not have thinner necks than most other sopranos. But certainly the Kiwaya has a wider neck (almost the same as a tenor), and consequently, some may find that easier to play. Whether the neck is normal or wider masks no difference to me, there is so little difference.

Ah, I see. So, Ohana ukuleles got normal sized necks? Its just that the other brands went a bit oversized? Anyway, thanks Ken!

Mouthy1
12-24-2011, 12:32 PM
Ohana sounds better to me. Louder, more plinky martin like. I love the pre antiqued finish and think it is well done. I have plenty of experience with both.

khairijamian
12-24-2011, 05:15 PM
Ohana sounds better to me. Louder, more plinky martin like. I love the pre antiqued finish and think it is well done. I have plenty of experience with both.

A great uke at decent price? How do you rate the Ohana? :D

Ken Middleton
12-24-2011, 09:38 PM
Here's a video I did with Philippe Krouk in Paris. It's just an unrehearsed improvisation, but you can hear the two instruments quite clearly.

One of us is playing a vintage 1920's Martin 2M and the other is playing the prototype Ohana SK-38.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP49Rhy44CQ&feature=colike


Kiwaya, on the other hand, do not really sound the same as a Martin. I think that the KTS-4 has a really wonderful sound, but you should not consider it to be just a copy of an old Martin. Kiwayas have a sound all of their own. After all, they have been making instruments for over 90 years. They make fabulous instruments.

Interestingly, Nobu Ochi of Kiwaya, came over to our booth several times at last year's NAMM to try out the SK-38. He really liked it and was amazed that we were selling it at such a low cost.

khairijamian
12-24-2011, 11:06 PM
Here's a video I did with Philippe Krouk in Paris. It's just an unrehearsed improvisation, but you can hear the two instruments quite clearly.

One of us is playing a vintage 1920's Martin 2M and the other is playing the prototype Ohana SK-38.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP49Rhy44CQ&feature=colike


Kiwaya, on the other hand, do not really sound the same as a Martin. I think that the KTS-4 has a really wonderful sound, but you should not consider it to be just a copy of an old Martin. Kiwayas have a sound all of their own. After all, they have been making instruments for over 90 years. They make fabulous instruments.

Interestingly, Nobu Ochi of Kiwaya, came over to our booth several times at last year's NAMM to try out the SK-38. He really liked it and was amazed that we were selling it at such a low cost.

Great playings for of you! At 1st I can't differentiate which one is the Martin. Sounds quite similar! But why it is hard to find SK-38 these days?

Ken Middleton
12-24-2011, 11:40 PM
... But why it is hard to find SK-38 these days?

Because everyone wants one and many stores sold out within a few days. Remember also that we choose our dealers very carefully and only sell through a small number of outlets.

I am very pleased with the response from players.

stevepetergal
12-25-2011, 06:47 AM
I've played a few Ohanas and a few Kiwayas. My main focus when shopping is always intonation. The Kiwayas in my opinion have about the best intonation of any factory built instruments. Ohanas don't come close. I'd find it harder to choose between Ohana and Kala. Judging intonation only, Kiwaya hands down.

hibiscus
12-25-2011, 07:02 AM
Your duet sounds terrific! I'm so excited about receiving my SK-38, I already have it listed as mine. Uke Republic will start mailing them out next week.
Ken, are you using Aquila strings in this video?

Ken Middleton
12-25-2011, 08:14 AM
Your duet sounds terrific! I'm so excited about receiving my SK-38, I already have it listed as mine. Uke Republic will start mailing them out next week.
Ken, are you using Aquila strings in this video?

Thank you very much and congrats on the new uke (when it comes).

I'm afraid I don't know which strings I have on. And I don't know which strings are on Philippe's uke either (whichever one it is). The SK-38 comes with Aquila strings, but the one on this video is one of the prototypes.

You might be horrified to learn that I don't attach much importance to strings nowadays.

I know that a lot of people believe that changing the brand strings will improve the sound. There's certainly some truth in that. However, to get a good tone I think three factors are more important than the brand of strings:

1. Very smooth, correctly shaped finger nails.
2. An action that is rather higher than most people like.
3. How you actually play the note: played in the best place, at the right volume, use of vibrato, etc.

hibiscus
12-25-2011, 09:48 AM
Thanks, Ken~ great advice!

Huna
12-25-2011, 09:55 AM
those sk-38's sound nice ...

Plainsong
12-25-2011, 03:34 PM
thank you very much and congrats on the new uke (when it comes).

I'm afraid I don't know which strings I have on. And I don't know which strings are on Philippe's uke either (whichever one it is). The SK-38 comes with Aquila strings, but the one on this video is one of the prototypes.

You might be horrified to learn that I don't attach much importance to strings nowadays.

I know that a lot of people believe that changing the brand strings will improve the sound. There's certainly some truth in that. However, to get a good tone I think three factors are more important than the brand of strings:

1. Very smooth, correctly shaped finger nails.
2. An action that is rather higher than most people like.
3. How you actually play the note: played in the best place, at the right volume, use of vibrato, etc.

Yay for some straight talk about strings! I don't have near the skill or experience Ken does, but while I have found that really truly awful strings will make a good uke sound bad... that this is very much the exception to the rule. Unless the strings are just duds out of the package, the "wrong" string matchup won't make your uke sound horrible. Sure you might have a preference a bit here or there, but it's not like it suddenly sounds awful and ZOMG I must change the strings right away! Nah, it doesn't matter THAT much when everything else is considered.

Like with the clarinet that's sitting in its case, in a drawer. I tell myself I don't play because I need a new mouthpiece and ligature, reeds that I like, and when I add all that stuff to the shopping cart, I may as well have bought a uke...which I'd rather play anyway. But really, am I not capable of getting a decent tone just because the mouthpiece isn't what I'd prefer? No of course not! I can work with it. It's not ideal but I can work with it and improve that critical ear, maybe just improve a bit in the process... heaven forbid.

I've always suspected that the same rule applies to strings, but to read Ken saying it, makes me feel not insane. :)

we tigers
07-20-2012, 06:48 AM
Reviving this thread because I'm more or less about to make the same decision. The ohana, kiwaya or Timms...
Most important to are the width of the neck and the sound; it has to be as warm as possible.

Olarte
07-20-2012, 07:30 AM
Oh my god the Kiwaya Ts-4 is like my favorite uke. it's that good. I had a chance to try a vintage 1930 mint condition Martin S0 at the NYC festival and they were almost indistinguishable. simply amazing.

It's as light as a feather it's great worht Browns, and if I had to choose only one that would be the one.

As much as I love my mya moe, pienapple sunday, flea, fluke etc... the kiwaya is in a class of it's own. worth every penny!

And HMS shipped it with a perfectly sized case and of course perfect setup.

stevepetergal
07-20-2012, 07:59 AM
From my experience, the Kiwayas all have superior intonation.

philrab66
07-20-2012, 10:10 AM
Does Ken Timm got his own website? :O


http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/271017663512?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1558.l2649

fabioponta
07-20-2012, 05:51 PM
Kiwaya KTS-4 has a complex sound. Diferent. A sound that makes you feel a martinplayer. The mahogany finish in the Kiwaya is unlike any uke, satin or gloss finish, between $200 to $300. If you do not like ukuleles with lightweight and a perfect balance that vibrate whole the uke body with worth brown strings, do not buy.


...And I still love my another mahogany soprano, a Pono MS with aquilas. So diferent...

sam13
08-24-2017, 03:41 PM
This is a great thread.

I found it through a Google search. Read all the way to the end and then realized it was 5 years old.

Always wanted to get a Kiwaya Soprano. Just might do it.

EDW
08-24-2017, 03:42 PM
This is a great thread.

I found it through a Google search. Read all the way to the end and then realized it was 5 years old.

Always wanted to get a Kiwaya Soprano. Just might do it.

You really can't go wrong with Kiwaya. Nicely made instruments. I regret selling the one I had.

I also had an sk38, and while decent, in comparison it did not have the sparkle, depth and flawless intonation. Good instrument, but nowhere near the same level .

Ukulele Eddie
08-25-2017, 05:42 PM
This is a great thread.

I found it through a Google search. Read all the way to the end and then realized it was 5 years old.

Always wanted to get a Kiwaya Soprano. Just might do it.

They are quite nice, Sam. There's a used KTS-7 listed on FMM if you're looking for used.