View Full Version : Soprano dilemma

we tigers
03-26-2013, 09:16 AM
I have a little dilemma in which I seek your advice, oh ukulele connaisseurs of the underground.
Last summer I missed out on a Ken Timms soprano on eBay (this actually happened more than once...) and eventually bought a Kiwaya KTS-4 instead. Then in September I got the chance to play on a KoAloha soprano and was pretty much blown away but the sound of that uke as well (that Kiwaya is something special as well).

Fast forward to the present:
A friend of mine wants to buy a Kiwaya KTS-4. This gives me the chance to sell him my ukulele and try again for a Timms or go for KoAloha Pikake Soprano.

Question: What to do? Should I try and get my hands on a Timms (as that was once the original wish)? Should I go Hawaiian with a KoAloha? Or should I get my head examined and stick with the Kiwaya?

...they're all great! The answer "keep the Kiwaya and get the KoAloha as well" is not an option because of the budget...

03-26-2013, 10:17 AM
I owned a Kiwaya KTC-1[concert], and it was a wonderful instrument. I was lucky enough to snag a broken Koaloha pikake concert on the cheap, and I still have the Koaloha but sold the Kiwaya. enough said.

03-26-2013, 10:25 AM
There's an old saying: "One lovely ukulele in the hand is worth all the lovely ukuleles on the internet." If it were me, I'd stick with the Kiwaya.

But it sounds like you've got the urge to try out another soprano. Might as well sell the Kiwaya to your friend and go for a Timms or a KoAloha.

03-26-2013, 10:26 AM
I would think the greater similarity among the three ukes in question would be between the Kiwaya and the Timms. So, if you want something different, go for the Koaloha. Otherwise, if I were you, I'd be tempted to try to get a Timms, if only because it was the original object of desire. Have you thought about contacting Ken directly? He may have something with a small blemish he'd sell at a lower price, lest he turn it into a birdhouse.

03-26-2013, 10:46 AM
I haven't played a Kaloha, but I own and love my Timms.

My vote is that a Timms is worth the wait.

03-26-2013, 11:16 AM
Kiwaya's are really awesome and I can't recommend them highly enough. I don't know the other brands well enough to recommend one versus the other. But, looking at this positively, you probably can't make a bad choice here 'cause they're all top notch.

03-26-2013, 11:46 AM
I am totally fond of the koAloha feeling and sound. If I were in your case, I would go for it. But this is still a very subjective thing !
(I have a longneck, and if I find a koaloha soprano, I for sure would do anything for having it !).
Question : why the pikake instead of the standard soprano ?

Hippie Dribble
03-26-2013, 12:04 PM
Nice dilemma to have Michael. Such good vibes about all these ukes, doesn't seem like you can really go wrong whichever way the wind is blowing.

You did mention you were 'blown away' by the sound of the KoAloha...that might be the best place to start.

But, just to mess with your head a little, I am also a wrap for Black Bear soprano ukes: never heard one that sounded less than magical. Also they tend to have nice slim, fast necks and playability is great. Also, the Kamaka sops are a slightly warmer tone than the KoAlohas on the whole, so that might be something you'd like to consider. In any case, your playing is of such a high standard they're all gonna sound a million bucks.

Hmmm, there really are so many great ukes in that range...sure you could keep the Kiwaya and have a wonderful uke, but, as a tragic UAS sufferer and have, for better or worse always worked on the philosophy - with ukes at least - that variety is the spice of life. :o

03-26-2013, 12:28 PM
For the record, Ken Timms ukes are not just sick, they're freaking amazing.
I've played so many Sops in the last couple of years, vintage Martins, Kamakas, Koalohas, and of course most were very good. And I do think I see a vintage koa Sop on the horizon, but if you get your hands on a Timms, you will be very stoked indeed my friend.
There, I've used up quota of skate lingo today. Good luck with your quest.

03-26-2013, 12:39 PM
I'm staying out of this one...all I'll say is that any one of those ukes would make most players, myself included, quite content. :)


03-26-2013, 12:47 PM
Michael do you want a koa ukulele or do you want a mahogany one?
Each sounds a little bit different, what do you prefer?
If you never had a koa uke, get one.

03-26-2013, 12:50 PM
You will get rid of the Kiwaya for another, and then want it back after a few months.....trust me.

Dan Uke
03-26-2013, 12:52 PM
I'm staying out of this one...all I'll say is that any one of those ukes would make most players, myself included, quite content. :)


Have you played all three mentioned? :p

03-26-2013, 12:54 PM
Okay...I was wrong...I can't stay completely out of it ;)

You might ask yourself how often any of those three ukuleles shows up used in the Marketplace (practically never in all three cases) which obviously means you've got a pretty good bird in hand right now...especially vs. only maybe being able to acquire a Timms in the future...

Also, the KoAloha is a great uke but sounds quite different from either the Kiwaya or Timms mahogany ukes, both of which are kind of "Martin clones." So, the question you have to answer for yourself is "would the Koa uke really keep you happy in the long term if what your really love is the Timms/Kiwaya/Martin sound?" I'll be the first to say that the KoAloha ukes are amazing and I love mine - but are you really prepared for that to be your ONLY good soprano, even after the "wow, that thing is loud and punchy" reaction wears off?


Dan Uke
03-26-2013, 12:59 PM
Have you played all three mentioned? :p

Just playin w/ ya John!

03-26-2013, 01:01 PM
Wow. Nice dilemma. These are all superior instruments. I'm a huge fan of Koaloha. More my kind of sound. The Timms and the Kiwaya have more in common with each other than either does with the Koaloha. I'd stay with what I have for now.

In your case, since you like your instrument, I would not make a move now. Wait a year or two (three?) and get my hands on as many other ukuleles that interest me. (Sorry, friend, it's not for sale) I'd take my time and enjoy the great instrument I have, until I feel I need to upgrade. There will be another Ken Timms and another Koaloha. Maybe even wait until I can afford the Koaloha. Enjoy both and try to decide if I might want to switch out the Kiwaya for a Timms.

I say take your time and enjoy the ride.

03-26-2013, 01:04 PM
Have you played all three mentioned? :p

The Kiwaya and KoAloha, yes (correction, the KoAlohas I've played were my longneck soprano which obviously is a little different and a couple of standard sopranos, not specifically the Pikake - but, I'm pretty sure the Pikake is the same dimensions, construction, right - the only difference being the blingy stuff like the crown end of the fretboard vs straight?).

The Kiwaya I played quite some time ago when I was still in the "sopranos are too cramped for me" phase but even so I remember that I really liked the tone of it. The one I played wasn't for sale so at least I don't have to look back wistfully and wish I'd bought it. LOL

So far I haven't laid hands on a Timms - but I've drooled over every one I've seen, bid on several, and some day when I can afford to spend enough on a soprano (it's still my favorite sound but not favorite scale so I can't justify spending a ton on one) to win one I will. Do you have one you want to lend me? :biglaugh:


03-26-2013, 01:07 PM
Just playin w/ ya John!

I figured, but I had to answer anyway. Hey, I believing in earning my title... :biglaugh:

Edit to add: Ahhh...I see, you thought my second post was reply to yours and maybe I was offended...nah, hadn't seen yours yet I just couldn't keep my two cents to my self. :)

03-26-2013, 01:10 PM
timms is about same price as a vintage martin o. plus, u already have a kiwaya martin clone thats impeccable

go koaloha, which has already blown u away we. then, in a year or so, like me and many others, when the open chime of the koaloha starts to grate on u and gets brash, sell it for a vintage martin

03-26-2013, 01:38 PM
I personlly don't like how koalohas look but they sound great so if you like how they look I'd highly recommend those. And I've had no experience with the other brand

03-26-2013, 01:51 PM
timms is about same price as a vintage martin o. plus, u already have a kiwaya martin clone thats impeccable

go koaloha, which has already blown u away we. then, in a year or so, like me and many others, when the open chime of the koaloha starts to grate on u and gets brash, sell it for a vintage martin

I totally agree :).........especially when you said the "M" word

Dan Uke
03-26-2013, 01:54 PM
I read from a source that knows a source that thinks you cannot go wrong with any.

03-26-2013, 02:55 PM
If it were me, I would go with the luthier hand made Timms over the factory made ukes. To me its like, do you want a real painting or a copy? Just my opinion.

03-26-2013, 03:43 PM
Periodically, Duane offers a few sweet sopranos and pineapples for sale at very appealing, if not irresistible prices.

we tigers
03-27-2013, 06:36 AM
I've sent Ken a pm and an email but so far no reaction.
I love Duane's ukes as well, but they are a little over my budget. I think he's right by the way: handmade by a luthier I think is nicer than factory made.

03-27-2013, 06:45 AM
Maybe there's something between a "factory-made" KoAloha and a single luthier-made uke.
My early G-string soprano was made in a small luthier shop. It's my favorite koa soprano ever—beating out a KoAloha soprano and a Maui Music. Sound is fantastic and she's as suave at Grace Kelly.


we tigers
03-27-2013, 06:48 AM
That's a stunning ukulele, Ginny!

we tigers
03-29-2013, 06:17 AM
Ah well... Just sold the Kiwaya. I played it a couple of times these last days and just concluded that it had to go. But with another reason that I thought: I'm just not a soprano player. Since I have my covered bridge concert I almost haven't touched the Kiwaya. I found it too fidgety. The neck is too thin for my hands and the uke always was slipping away a bit. I love concerts, that's it! I'm 6ft 4 and have big hands.

So now I have a new hunt! A koa concert. I found a shop here in Europe that can do me great deal on a KoAloha concert. Another shop has the basic satin finished Kanilea for a similar price. So it's going to be one of those two. I'm leaning towards the KoAloha because I always hear rave reviews about those concerts. The praise for Kanilea is usually for their tenors.

So advice me! Which K would you choose?

03-29-2013, 06:29 AM
I don't have personal experience with the Kanilea concert but I did have a KoAloha concert (I sold it after I got my KoAloha longneck soprano). It was certainly a good uke but I prefer the sound of the soprano body, hence the longneck.

You'd probably have a hard time going wrong with either of those ukes, though.


Dan Uke
03-29-2013, 06:31 AM
I'm 6ft 4 and have big hands.

So advice me! Which K would you choose?

I have small hands for a guy but I play tenor...But since you are asking for a concert, I have owned these in concert size a Koaloha, Kamaka, Kanilea and Koaloha was my favorite for standard concert ukes.

Kamaka has a nice mellow sound that I really liked but only 12 frets to the body so sold it...HOWEVER, I bought a Kamaka long-neck concert so that is my only concert uke and strung low G...only issue is head heavy w/ geared tuners.

Koaloha has that bright uke sound and I have never played a bad one but only played about 6. Connected at 13 frets but they change their design quite a bit so if you like a diff't look, then consider buying used. Call HMS to get you a factory second. MGM stops by Koaloha occassionaly...save some money.

Kanilea...Geared tuners so head heavy and sound was not impressive. It sounded good but nothing special. That's the same thought that I had for the Supertenor that I use to own.

we tigers
03-29-2013, 06:37 AM
thanks Nongdam!
I started a little poll:

we tigers
03-29-2013, 11:45 AM
Just ordered the KoAloha! Woohoo!

03-29-2013, 12:09 PM
Yay! Looking forward to your NUD thread!

Dan Uke
03-29-2013, 12:12 PM
Just ordered the KoAloha! Woohoo!

Sweet...too good of a deal to pass up I guess. LOL

03-29-2013, 01:33 PM
Just ordered the KoAloha! Woohoo!

Congrats Michael. How long of a wait until it is delivered?

03-29-2013, 05:26 PM
Excellent Choice!
I was going to suggest this
I visited it today and met Jake. Impressed with both.

03-29-2013, 08:10 PM
Just ordered the KoAloha! Woohoo!

Oh my god you're sooo right !!! You'll enjoy this awesome little one ! (My longneck is sooo comfortable !)
Can't wait to see it in your vids !
Where did you order it ?

04-01-2013, 03:47 AM
YOU WON'T BE SORRY, but as others have said , you can't go wrong with any of your choices. I did prefer the 14 vs 12 fret . now a KTC-2 , that might be a deal breaker. don't see these come up for resale too often. or the Kiwaya tenor.

04-01-2013, 03:59 AM
My KoAloha concert was my first great uke. I now have another KoAloha concert, a tenor, and a soprano. All of them are just fantastic. I grab the concert first and it is still my favorite. However, the others are gaining some ground. Great instruments and a wonderful company.

Pops gave my family the second concert.

04-06-2013, 05:23 PM
Excellent choice. Congratulations!