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View Full Version : calling all Kiwaya KTS-5 owners



janeray1940
03-30-2012, 05:05 PM
In my ongoing search for a small-hands-friendly ukulele (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?61577-ukes-with-gt-16-frets-recommendations) with 17 or more frets, I got to road-test a Kiwaya KTS-5 soprano today... and I'm not sure what I thought of it. So I'm hoping to get some feedback from others who own this uke.

What I liked:


It's SO lightweight! I could not believe that I was holding a solid wood ukulele.
The neck seems less chunky than the neck on my Kiwaya thinline pineapple. Other Kiwayas I've played had the same chunky-feeling neck as mine. The KTS-5 neck seemed more delicate.
The sound. As with every Kiwaya I've ever picked up, it sounded great.



What I'm not so sure about:

Is that 17th fret playable? On the KTS-5 I played at the shop, the action seemed really high as I went up the neck. I don't know if this is just a matter of an adjustment, or more of a basic truth that those frets past the join really aren't very playable.
The balance of the neck to the body. The body was just so thin and light that the neck felt rather top-heavy to me.


Anyway - if any UU folks have more than a passing acquaintance with this particular model, I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.

Mahalo!

didgeridoo2
03-30-2012, 05:14 PM
Mine had the MGM setup and the intonation is outstanding at the 17th fret. Each stringed note has at least a good three seconds of sustain and a couple ring on. If I have to play them, they are playable in performance.

The balance has never been a thought it feels so light.

It's such a sweet uke, Jane. It's too bad I work on Saturdays or I'd bring it to the fretboard roadmaps get togethers. If you wish to see mine, pm me and maybe we can arrange it.

janeray1940
03-30-2012, 05:33 PM
Mine had the MGM setup and the intonation is outstanding at the 17th fret. Each stringed note has at least a good three seconds of sustain and a couple ring on. If I have to play them, they are playable in performance.

The balance has never been a thought it feels so light.

It's such a sweet uke, Jane. It's too bad I work on Saturdays or I'd bring it to the fretboard roadmaps get togethers. If you wish to see mine, pm me and maybe we can arrange it.

Hey thanks! Fretboard Roadmaps has been on hiatus but may start back up... Meanwhile if you're around Tuesday nights, there's a uke group that meets at Venice and Centinela that I can fill you in about.

I'm starting to think the KTS-5 I played today hadn't been set up yet at all. I've asked my uke instructor to check it out for me and hopefully he can get the shop to do a decent setup on it before I make any commitment to buy...

coolkayaker1
03-30-2012, 05:42 PM
Janeray...I look forward to your findings about the uke. I think you're right....if you found it high action, they should set it up for you before you buy. Kiwayas are so well built, it should accept a saddle tweak well, and still not buzz. Keep us posted, please.

GX9901
03-30-2012, 05:48 PM
I don't have a KTS-5, but I do have a KTS-7, which I believe is the same thing just with a few more decorations. It's the only Kiwaya I've every played outside a K-Wave. Here are some thoughts:

-It is very lightweight, but I've never noticed any balance issues. The weight is comparable to a vintage Martin style 1 I once had.
-The neck is thin, again similar to a vintage Martin.
-It sounded very different from the vintage style 1 to me. I thought it sounded more like a concert, at least when compared to the very barky vintage Martin.
-The action on mine is very good. I got it used though. I'm guessing it originated from Elderly Instruments.
-Around the 17th fret, the action seems fine. However, I would have to concentrate to fret cleanly around there as my fingers are thicker than the fret spacing. Sounds pretty decent there considering how short the vibrating string is when fretting.
-Slightly wider nut than vintage Martins. I think it's better for fingerstyle than the typical soprano.

Even though I don't play sopranos much, I really do like the Kiwaya. It is one of two sopranos I currently own.

coolkayaker1
03-31-2012, 01:49 AM
Hi Jane. I just wanted to point out, for comparison, lucysukulele on eBay has the Kiwaya -5 for sale now with photos and case. Lucysukulele is an official Kiwaya dealer listed on their site, and I have bought strings and my Kiwaya thinline from her many times with great service from WA. Your call if it's better deal or web purchase unseen than your local shop. If you do use her, email her. She has off eBay ukes, too, and slightly better prices off eBay.

If you get it, and I know you're a Kiwaya fan already, do post photos.

I don't know if you or GX know, but Bosko of Honey and Bosko plays a Kiwaya. A model concert -3, I think. Check out any if their videos --my absolute favorite being Dancing in the Moonlight with kharmachanic!


http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nezQSAJ_ib0

Is that the most rocking 3 some on ukulele you've ever heard? It blows my mind how good that really is.

Uke Whisperer
03-31-2012, 03:46 AM
www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRSYYTn3iiM
Kiwaya kts-5 and Koaloha Supersoprano


www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?28288


Above may be of interest to you.

Ken Middleton has done several uke reviews where he compared them to the KTS-4 and/or 5. In his mind the KTS is a great uke. You may want to search for those reviews.... too.



Regards,

coolkayaker1
03-31-2012, 04:48 AM
That uu thread link was interesting Tom, and I'll bet it'll help Jane.

Also, Jane, I'll add that these Grotoh Deluxe friction tuners are absolutely sublime. Heaven on earth.

janeray1940
03-31-2012, 05:06 AM
www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRSYYTn3iiM
Kiwaya kts-5 and Koaloha Supersoprano


That was really helpful for a couple of reasons - "Ain't She Sweet" is one of my test songs as well, and right now the two ukes I'm drawn to the most are the KTS-5 and a Koaloha concert (except I know I don't want a concert size because I can't make the five-fret stretches in first position). It really did illustrate the mahogany v. koa difference in sound, and while they are different, after watching that I really can't say one is "better" than the other.

janeray1940
03-31-2012, 05:14 AM
If I wasn't already almost entirely convinced:


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

janeray1940
03-31-2012, 05:17 AM
Hi Jane. I just wanted to point out, for comparison, lucysukulele on eBay has the Kiwaya -5 for sale now with photos and case. Lucysukulele is an official Kiwaya dealer listed on their site, and I have bought strings and my Kiwaya thinline from her many times with great service from WA. Your call if it's better deal or web purchase unseen than your local shop.

If you get it, and I know you're a Kiwaya fan already, do post photos.

I don't know if you or GX know, but Bosko of Honey and Bosko plays a Kiwaya. A model concert -3, I think. Check out any if their videos --my absolute favorite being Dancing in the Moonlight with kharmachanic!


http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nezQSAJ_ib0

Is that the most rocking 3 some on ukulele you've ever heard? It blows my mind how good that really is.

Hey thanks, good to know about Lucy's since Kiwayas seem so hard to find in the wild. If the local one gets away from me, I'm happy to know there are other options.

The trouble with all these videos is that everyone is just so darned good! I hear playing like that, and then I get the uke in my own not-so-skilled hands, and... I end up underwhelmed :)

Uke Whisperer
03-31-2012, 09:30 AM
[QUOTE=janeray1940;904699]If I wasn't already almost entirely convinced:

Hello,

Glad you found that review. That's the one I was looking for but guess I just missed it.

janeray1940
04-01-2012, 01:37 PM
So... an update. My uke instructor and I spent an hour with the KTS-5 today. It was an interesting hour - we both were really enthusiastic about the uke at first, but as time went on we noticed intonation issues and that was that.

Which brings me back to reality - I think the only thing I'm going to be happy with is a longneck Kamaka pineapple or, possibly, a DaSilva custom. The idea of buying a uke that costs more than most cars I've owned is a bit shocking to me, so I still need to come to terms with that.

So new uke day is going to be delayed for a bit :)

imabuddha
04-01-2012, 02:10 PM
You've ruled out a longneck Koaloha?

janeray1940
04-01-2012, 02:38 PM
You've ruled out a longneck Koaloha?

Not entirely, but I don't want to buy one sight unseen and haven't been able to find one for sale in my usual haunts.

The thing with a Kamaka is I know that if I order from the factory and there are issues, they will make it right. Same goes with a custom from a reputable luthier. But I'm not so sure that an online retailer would be willing to work with me to make things perfect.

The way my instructor explained it is this - on sopranos, by nature it's tricky to get perfect intonation as you go up the neck. My Kamaka pineapple is an exception - the intonation on it is dead perfect, and after playing it for almost a year it's what I've come to expect (even though personally I question that my ear could be that good!). Finding another factory soprano that is comparable is going to be difficult. Not saying it's impossible, but there's a pretty good chance that anything off the shelf is going to disappoint me.

This makes me wonder if I can order direct from Koaloha, should I choose to go that route. I'm sure that they would also work with me, from everything I've heard about their great customer service...

imabuddha
04-01-2012, 02:56 PM
This makes me wonder if I can order direct from Koaloha, should I choose to go that route. I'm sure that they would also work with me, from everything I've heard about their great customer service...

AFAIK Koaloha only sells "seconds" directly, but at a nice discount. :) From what several people who've bought one have said they only have nearly invisible tiny blemishes, so that'd be a good way to go.

coolkayaker1
04-01-2012, 04:06 PM
I agree with everything you wrote here, janeray. Every single word of it.


Not entirely, but I don't want to buy one sight unseen and haven't been able to find one for sale in my usual haunts.

The thing with a Kamaka is I know that if I order from the factory and there are issues, they will make it right. Same goes with a custom from a reputable luthier. But I'm not so sure that an online retailer would be willing to work with me to make things perfect.

The way my instructor explained it is this - on sopranos, by nature it's tricky to get perfect intonation as you go up the neck. My Kamaka pineapple is an exception - the intonation on it is dead perfect, and after playing it for almost a year it's what I've come to expect (even though personally I question that my ear could be that good!). Finding another factory soprano that is comparable is going to be difficult. Not saying it's impossible, but there's a pretty good chance that anything off the shelf is going to disappoint me.

This makes me wonder if I can order direct from Koaloha, should I choose to go that route. I'm sure that they would also work with me, from everything I've heard about their great customer service...