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View Full Version : What's up with Kawika's?



gonoles
04-25-2013, 03:45 PM
Folks,

Just curious why Kawika's seem so popular. They are laminate wood instruments and priced higher than some solid wood instrument with great reputations such as Pono. Since I began as a guitarist I don't really understand that concept. Do uke's not open up? Are these instruments just made so well that is doesn't matter if they open up? I've never played one so I have not point of reference.

Thanks!

Kanaka916
04-25-2013, 04:03 PM
Are you referring to Luthier David Hurd's instruments aptly named Kawika?

gonoles
04-25-2013, 04:33 PM
Folks,

Just curious why Kiwaya uke's seem so popular. They are laminate wood instruments and priced higher than some solid wood instrument with great reputations such as Pono. Since I began as a guitarist I don't really understand that concept. Do uke's not open up? Are these instruments just made so well that is doesn't matter if they open up? I've never played one so I have not point of reference.

Sorry I miss spelled the name earlier.

Thanks!

didgeridoo2
04-25-2013, 04:34 PM
Maybe you mean Kiwaya? Kiwaya does make high quality laminated ukes that sound terrific.

gonoles
04-25-2013, 04:35 PM
Sorry. Fixed this on another post. Kiwaya uke's was what I'm curious about. Thanks.

didgeridoo2
04-25-2013, 04:47 PM
Okay, that's what I thought. I have a Kiwaya laminated soprano. The laminate is very thin and its got a great tone. Yes, I would say its better than some solid wood ukes I've played. I've also owned a solid mahogany Kiwaya soprano that was probably one of the better solid wood sopranos I've ever played. I sold that one because I don't play sopranos very often and it was too nice to keep without playing it much. I kept the laminate because I like to have a soprano around for fun and to take to the beach or work, etc.

There was a concert laminate Kiwaya on sale here in the market place. I almost bought it because I like my soprano that much and could only imagine the concert would be equally good.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
04-25-2013, 05:08 PM
I bought my Kiwaya KS-0P laminate, thin-body pineapple uke used, so the price was right for me.

It's a wonderfully-built (and incredibly light), comfortable-to-play (terrific neck, especially), great-sounding instrument. It doesn't need to open up at all---it's already got a sweet tone that I love; it's resonant; and it's responsive. To me, this uke is worth its retail price and then some. Love it.

coolkayaker1
04-25-2013, 05:14 PM
Yep, what he said.

coolkayaker1
04-25-2013, 05:42 PM
I like Kiwayas a lot, and have owned two, but they are sonically "tight" to me. So well made and glued then are boxy.

I've never owned a Kawika, but waiting for 000Kanaka000 to review her baritone that she got from Shawn (what happened to her btw? She tired of UU overnight, it seems.)

tangimango
04-25-2013, 05:44 PM
i heard or read somewhere that even laminated ukuleles are great in sound and quality and should not be considered cheap and low quality becasue its made of laminate. but kiwaya is a well known great builder from what i see hence the big price on a laminate. but yes there is alot of cheap made ukulele made of laminate to keep cost down. even sometimes i think why buy a laminate for a solid wood price :)

gonoles
04-25-2013, 06:22 PM
...even sometimes i think why buy a laminate for a solid wood price :)

I know what you're saying. I've been trained mentally to equate solid wood with a better instrument. That said I can't get past the reality that uke players do not seem that hung up on it.

bborzell
04-25-2013, 09:51 PM
My take is that the difference between an all laminate uke and an all solid wood uke is the ability of the solid top to create complex tone. I rather doubt that most people could distinguish between ukes where one has all solid wood and the other has a solid top with lam sides and back. But, I would venture a guess that many people could tell the difference between a uke with a solid top and one with a lam top.

OldePhart
04-26-2013, 03:21 AM
My Kiwaya longneck soprano is head and shoulders above every laminated uke I've played. It is as good as a few solid wood ukes I've played, though not really equal to any of the ones I have now.

If I had to attempt to characterize exactly how it is "less" than the solid ukes I own I think it would be in the "chime" and sustain departments. It has decent volume, excellent intonation, pleasing tone, but I have never been able to get it to "ring" like the solid wood ukes regardless of string choice (and I've tried more strings on this particular uke than any other).

To be fair, it's a fairly subtle difference. In fact, when I first got it I would have ranked it the equal of my Mainland ukes. But, the more I play the more I notice that it doesn't really have the chime and sustain of those ukes. Let me put it this way - with its best strings the Kiwaya is the equal of the Mainland ukes with strings that aren't the best for them. So, until I found what "worked" for each Mainland uke the Kiwaya seemed the equal of them but once I found strings that the Mainland uke "likes" the Kiwaya lost ground.

Presumably, that means that there could be a set of strings out there that the Kiwaya really likes and that would put it back on even footing with some of the solid ukes. I'm still looking for that set, though. :)

John

roxhum
04-26-2013, 03:44 AM
So Oldephart, what are the stings you use on your Mainlands?

MGM
04-26-2013, 07:06 AM
Kiwaya laminates are superior in the quality of laminate used. Kiwaya uses special instrument grade laminate different from many other laminates used in ukes and is much more costly to manufacture. One of the main differences is the size of the plywood layers..Cheaper laminates not specifically designed for such a small uke typically have three layers alternating the grain direction of about equal thickness....The laminate kiwaya uses had a very thick middle layer and Ultra thin top and backing layers virtually making it look and sound solid with the thinnest of veneers making them sound more solid than laminate imho.

OldePhart
04-26-2013, 09:19 AM
So Oldephart, what are the stings you use on your Mainlands?

It varies by uke.
Matte mahogany soprano - Seaguar leaders in the same gages as a worth CH set - tuned to C
Matte mango soprano - Either Ko'Olau Gold concert or Ko'Olau Mahana concert - tuned to D
Cedar/Rosewood concert converted to coffee can resonator - Aquila tenor but will probably try the "Seaguar CH" set next - tuned...I forget - some open tuning.
Gloss mahogany cutaway tenor - Seaguar leaders in the same gages as a Worth CH set - tuned Bb
Gloss mango tenor - Ko'Olau Gold tenor - tuned C
Matte mahogany baritone - D Seaguar Blue label 80, G Seaguar Premium 130 , B Seaguar Blue Label 90, E Blue Label 80 - tuned reentrant G

On the Kiwaya I've tried the black strings that were on it, Aquila, GHS, Ko'Olau Gold (blechh on this uke), Martin M600, and several different mixtures of Seaguar leader - including currently the "CH" set. Of them all, I'd say that the current "CH" set and the Aquila strings were probably the best overall.

John