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View Full Version : New Kiwaya KTS-4 sounds very dark..



Sir El84
08-31-2012, 02:57 PM
Hi all,
I received my brand new KTS-4 today and I'm a little surprised (and mildly disappointed) in how dark it sounds. It IS loud yes, but very full, too full almost with the high A having almost no extension. I've changed the stock strings to Aquila. Louder but still dark.

By way of reference, it sounds very much like this (maybe a tad darker even):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd2-r4ZxbSc

Where I was hoping it sound more like this:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pio0hqZma8

Not sure if it would get brighter as it opens up.
Opinions welcome!

didgeridoo2
08-31-2012, 03:03 PM
To me, it sounds like two different players playing different pieces. Both instruments sound lovely and I'm sure yours does too. I had a Kiwaya KTS-5 and liked worth or savarez fluorocarbon strings on it.

AndrewKuker
08-31-2012, 03:06 PM
I like that darker Martin like tone, but it seems like you would like a KoAloha type of sound. Have you played them?

Sir El84
08-31-2012, 03:19 PM
No, have not played a KoAloha yet.
Maybe it's a matter of my ears adjusting and the instrument getting acclimated. It's very nicely built. Ok I guess Martin styled Ukes have a darker sound. Thanks.

roxhum
08-31-2012, 04:13 PM
Interesting that you are using the term dark. I have never hear that before and wonder what you are calling dark as mellow and you wanted a brighter sounding uke. I agree they both sound lovely. It is hard to truly assess the uke until you have played it awhile, or at least that is the case for me.

OldePhart
08-31-2012, 04:21 PM
There might actually be a problem with the high-A string, though that would be pretty unusual on a Kiwaya. Still, even on a "dark" uke the A string should ring clearly and when plucked open it should have about the same sustain as the G and E (the C, being noticeably heavier, is sometimes a bit more powerful). For example, I have two almost identical soprano ukuleles, one in mango and one in mahogany - the mahogany is much "darker" than the mango but it is still very loud and the A string rings clearly all the way up the fretboard. In fact, it has a bit more sustain on 12th fret harmonics than the mango one does.

If the A string really seems dead then I'd look for the issue at the nut and saddle. Unless there is something seriously wonky with the uke construction then either the nut or saddle is the most likely culprit. If a nut slot is cut too flat, for example, it can kill sustain and volume because the string "squirms." The same thing can happen on a saddle.

Also, check the intonation - I just remembered that the Kiwayas have a compensated bridge saddle and if somebody put it in backwards that could cause the uke to really just have "blah" tone.

When I got my Kiwaya longneck soprano the black fluorocarbon strings that were on it were terrible and it was a string balance issue. But, both Aquilas and Worths fixed it right up.

Finally, if that A string really is "dead" and you've tried a couple of different string sets on it and it's still dead - kick that baby back for warranty repair. It's one thing for a uke to be a little dark, it's another for one to have no life on the A string!

John

Hippie Dribble
08-31-2012, 05:23 PM
hey SirEl84, my advice for what it's worth would be to not only remove the stock strings, but to remove the aquilas too...QUICK!!! On a uke like the Kiwaya aquilas will give it a dull, muddy sound which may be the 'darkness' you're hearing. They kind of strangle the tone on a nice uke like the KTS-4 and really dampen the dynamics of the instrument. Get a nice set of clear fluorocarbon strings on it...martins, or worths, or southcoasts, savarez or living water and I think you'll be surprised in the improvement! You should have better note separation, and a brighter more lively uke. All the best with it mate!

coolkayaker1
08-31-2012, 05:33 PM
hey SirEl84, my advice for what it's worth would be to not only remove the stock strings, but to remove the aquilas too...QUICK!!! On a uke like the Kiwaya aquilas will give it a dull, muddy sound which may be the 'darkness' you're hearing. They kind of strangle the tone on a nice uke like the KTS-4 and really dampen the dynamics of the instrument. Get a nice set of clear fluorocarbon strings on it...martins, or worths, or southcoasts, savarez or living water and I think you'll be surprised in the improvement! You should have better note separation, and a brighter more lively uke. All the best with it mate!

agree.....

mm stan
08-31-2012, 05:37 PM
hey SirEl84, my advice for what it's worth would be to not only remove the stock strings, but to remove the aquilas too...QUICK!!! On a uke like the Kiwaya aquilas will give it a dull, muddy sound which may be the 'darkness' you're hearing. They kind of strangle the tone on a nice uke like the KTS-4 and really dampen the dynamics of the instrument. Get a nice set of clear fluorocarbon strings on it...martins, or worths, or southcoasts, savarez or living water and I think you'll be surprised in the improvement! You should have better note separation, and a brighter more lively uke. All the best with it mate!
+1 change the strings is my suggestion too...if still sounds the same...throw on a bone saddle and nut...good Luck and happy strummings..

OldePhart
08-31-2012, 05:50 PM
Oh...and hey, welcome to the forum and I just noticed your user name. Obviously a little guitar background there! I used to design and build tube guitar amps, mostly using EL84s, but my near vision has become so lousy that it takes all the fun out of amp building so I haven't built one in probably four or five years.

John

Sir El84
08-31-2012, 06:43 PM
Thanks Gents for all the responses. Part of the reason I picked up the Ukulele recently is to regain that feeling of not knowing everything after so many years of guitar- it's a very great feeling actually.
And here I was thinking that Aquilas were the bees-knees. Again, I think the KTS-4 is perfectly healthy, just more mellow that I expected.
Luckily the intonation is spot on. I'll find some nice fluorocarbons for it and report back. Thanks again!
OldePhart: I used to tinker with amps as well as a hobby. I realize my handle is not exactly Uke appropriate, just getting too old to come up with a new one!

katysax
08-31-2012, 07:37 PM
I have a Kiwaya KTS-7. I switched out the stock strings for Aquila and was unhappy. Then I tried D'addario T2 and the sound is a lot livlier.

janeray1940
08-31-2012, 07:46 PM
I thought the Aquilas sounded decent in that clip, but I have to say I hated them on my Kiwaya KS-0P. HATED them! I use Martin M600 fluorocarbons on mine. Of the two clips originally posted. I do think the first one sounds more Martin-like and the second more Koaloha-like... however, Aquilas on my Kiwaya did not sound like that at all, they sounded really dull.

Pukulele Pete
08-31-2012, 11:41 PM
I was also disappointed with the sound of my KTS-4 when I got it . I changed the strings to Southcoast strings and it was much better. Now I have Martin m600 strings on it and It sounds GREAT.
One quick tip , put a small bead on the A string so that the knot doesnt pull out of the saddle. I think it is an excellant ukulele. It is the uke that Martin should be building.

barefootgypsy
09-01-2012, 12:46 AM
I got my used KTS-4 a couple of days ago, and still have the Aquila strings on it that the last owner put on. Living Waters at the ready. I'm not at all expert in assessing ukuleles, but I'll be referring back to this thread very soon to help me out. I want to learn the sort of checks that OldePhart refers to.... and learn how to sound the harmonics! Just haven't got the knack yet..... SirEl84, I hope you end up happy with your uke! :)

Chris Tarman
09-01-2012, 11:53 AM
I have a KTS-7 with Worth Clear Mediums, and it sounds great. The black strings it came with sounded horrid to my ears, but the Worths are nice and chimey, while still leaving the characteristic mahogany warmth.

Sir El84
09-01-2012, 03:14 PM
OMG so much better! The KTS-4 is now in that Martin realm of mellow, but more lively and not so dark. I just think both the stock black strings and even the Aquila were just the wrong set for this uke as many of you had said.
The stock strings were just blah, but the Aquila's C string was just a bad, floppy, sick kind of sound that overtook everything else. Maybe a bad set, but good riddance. I'm still interested in trying a KoAhola someday for the reported brighter sound, but I'm much happier now. It feels better to play as well. This model seems to like a little more tension.
Thanks again everyone.

didgeridoo2
09-01-2012, 04:23 PM
Other strings you should try are Ken Middletons Living Water Strings. I think he has or had a kTs-4, and he may even have it strung with his strings. While I think the Martin fluoros are fine, I find them to be little thin sounding when compared to some other brands available. Kens strings are on the bright side...sweet, not brash.

Newportlocal
09-01-2012, 05:05 PM
OMG so much better! The KTS-4 is now in that Martin realm of mellow, but more lively and not so dark. I just think both the stock black strings and even the Aquila were just the wrong set for this uke as many of you had said.
The stock strings were just blah, but the Aquila's C string was just a bad, floppy, sick kind of sound that overtook everything else. Maybe a bad set, but good riddance. I'm still interested in trying a KoAhola someday for the reported brighter sound, but I'm much happier now. It feels better to play as well. This model seems to like a little more tension.
Thanks again everyone.

Great to hear a happy ending to your story!

ChrisRCovington
09-01-2012, 06:30 PM
I used to put Aquila on everything and seemed content but now I've found out that they aren't very good for evey uke. I still like them on laminates, electric ukes I'm gonna play plugged in and sometimes I like them on solid spruce tops if I plan on finger picking a lot, but never on solid mahogany or solid koa. I've really taken to Martin flurocarbon strings. They are easy for me to get, don't cost much and sound pretty darn good. I might be trying another couple brands during my next re-stringing though.

callmemario
05-19-2014, 07:27 AM
My Kiwaya KTS-4 Review. What a difference Ken Middleton's "Living Water" Fluorocarbon ukulele strings made on my KTS-4!! I've fallen in love! Check it out. :-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCf48-TSQks

iamesperambient
05-19-2014, 10:38 AM
Hi all,
I received my brand new KTS-4 today and I'm a little surprised (and mildly disappointed) in how dark it sounds. It IS loud yes, but very full, too full almost with the high A having almost no extension. I've changed the stock strings to Aquila. Louder but still dark.

By way of reference, it sounds very much like this (maybe a tad darker even):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd2-r4ZxbSc

Where I was hoping it sound more like this:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pio0hqZma8

Not sure if it would get brighter as it opens up.
Opinions welcome!

In my opinion i don't think the word 'dark' can apply to any uke big or small. I would say the sound maybe more 'mellow' than your used to with the bright punchy soprano sound or the 'plinky' tone. Personally to me i find that tone sometimes to one dimensional I think having a slightly more 'mellow' tone adds more tone to the music. But if its not your thing maybe try looking into different ukes with a more bright tone also if you use D tuning it brightens up soprano ukes a lot (i personally find it a bit to high pitched but to each his own).

barefootgypsy
05-19-2014, 11:18 AM
My Kiwaya KTS-4 Review. What a difference Ken Middleton's "Living Water" Fluorocarbon ukulele strings made on my KTS-4!! I've fallen in love! Check it out. :-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCf48-TSQksLovely review Mario! I also have a Kiwaya KTS-4 - it ame to me with Aquilas, which I did not like on this uke - too loud and brash..... I also put Kens Living Water Strings on it (nearly two years ago) and I love this uke with these strings. Gorgeous sound.....

callmemario
05-19-2014, 01:44 PM
Thank you Lesley. It's nice to meet another KTS-4 lover! :-)
__________________________________________________ _


Lovely review Mario! I also have a Kiwaya KTS-4 - it ame to me with Aquilas, which I did not like on this uke - too loud and brash..... I also put Kens Living Water Strings on it (nearly two years ago) and I love this uke with these strings. Gorgeous sound.....

Ken Middleton
05-20-2014, 06:49 AM
The difference between the two examples is just the recording, nothing more. And yes, I agree that strings will make a difference, particularly on such a responsive, well-balanced instrument.