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mcgannahanskjellifetti
01-16-2009, 06:01 AM
Hi there, this is my first post. I'm Rick from Minnesota.

My new Kiwaya KTS-4 arrived this week and I've been a bit disappointed so far with the way things have worked out. I first strung it with Worth brown mediums but it seemed dead. Then I strung it with clear Fremonts, which were brighter, but still seems subdued.

Part of the problem is I'm comparing it with an old Harmony I have which is REALLY loud. Barks like crazy. It has really high action with Aquila strings, and doesn't have good intonation above the fifth fret, but oh baby!

So last night I noticed some buzzing at the 1st fret (on the Kiwaya) and the notes in other places in general seem muted, not much sustain. I suspect this uke is dry, which isn't helped by the fact that it's been -25 outside the last few days. So I inserted a small sponge-in-a-baggy inside the soundhole last night which I hope will help remedy the problem.

I guess for a solid mahogany uke with such a great reputation, this one just hasn't knocked my socks off. I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and venture it may just need humidifying, or perhaps different strings. I wanted to stay away from going with Aquilas, but I may have to resort to that. I'm kind of a tone hog, I admit.

Anyway, nice to meet you all, and God bless.

Rick

E-Lo Roberts
01-16-2009, 06:28 AM
Mcgan, my brother lives in North Dakota so I can feel your pain with the cold weather. I'm here is Lexington, KY which is -2 right now. That's cold enough for me. Concerning your Kiwaya KTS-4, checking up on some reviews, it seems that it should sound very nice. Don't think the answer lies in the sponge-in-a-baggy or string changing though. The old Harmony should tip you off to that since it is hanging out in the same dry conditions but still continues to please your ears. You might just have picked up an "off" ukulele. That is, if you had to opportunity to try out 4 or 5 of the same ukes in a store, perhaps one or two of them would speak to your ears. Those would be the ones you would consider buying. Being in Minn. I'm assumming your are not able to afford the luxury of testing out ukes in person. Unfortuately, every instrument is unique. Some are great tone monsters and others are lacking in tone. It's always a gamble when ordering on item that is subjective to tone and your particular ears. My suggestion is to stick with your old Harmony uke. Spend a few dollars to have the action lowered and intonation fixed (this might involved removing the bridge to re-position it). Hey anytime an instrument can make you say "oh baby!" then that's a keeper. These are far and few between. Plan a trip to Hawaii for your next uke. Try them all out until one speaks to you. Then buy it!...

PS, How much you want for the Old Harmony????...e.lo.....

mcgannahanskjellifetti
01-16-2009, 06:50 AM
Concerning your Kiwaya KTS-4, checking up on some reviews, it seems that it should sound very nice. Don't think the answer lies in the sponge-in-a-baggy or string changing though. The old Harmony should tip you off to that since it is hanging out in the same dry conditions but still continues to please your ears.


The Harmony is plywood, and built like a tank. I don't have a case for it, just hangs on the wall. It's loud and punchy, but contained "in the box", as opposed to the Kiwaya which is much more resonant. The Kiwaya also has a clearer sound, better note separation, perfect intonation.

The buzzing concerns me though, that should just not be. Has to be a humidity issue.

GreyPoupon
01-16-2009, 08:00 AM
I also purchased a kiwaya KTS-4 about a month ago... and I also was surprised to hear a lot of buzzing mostly up and down the e string. But after a week of playing and after switching the string to medium brown worths the buzzing went away. Actually, tt wasn't until I saw this post that I remembered that I had this problem.

So maybe it just needs a few more days for the strings to settle in...?

haole
01-16-2009, 08:42 AM
Take your chances with the Aquilas before you do anything drastic; it could just be the current strings that are making it buzz. That, and Aquilas are known for coaxing that "bark" out of mellow, dead-sounding ukes. :D If that doesn't help, take it to someone who can tweak the action a little.

Do you have one of the plastic-fretboard Harmonys? They rock! Although, the built-in nut does make the intonation suck. :(

GX9901
01-16-2009, 09:06 AM
Hi there, this is my first post. I'm Rick from Minnesota.

My new Kiwaya KTS-4 arrived this week and I've been a bit disappointed so far with the way things have worked out. I first strung it with Worth brown mediums but it seemed dead. Then I strung it with clear Fremonts, which were brighter, but still seems subdued.

Part of the problem is I'm comparing it with an old Harmony I have which is REALLY loud. Barks like crazy. It has really high action with Aquila strings, and doesn't have good intonation above the fifth fret, but oh baby!

So last night I noticed some buzzing at the 1st fret (on the Kiwaya) and the notes in other places in general seem muted, not much sustain. I suspect this uke is dry, which isn't helped by the fact that it's been -25 outside the last few days. So I inserted a small sponge-in-a-baggy inside the soundhole last night which I hope will help remedy the problem.

I guess for a solid mahogany uke with such a great reputation, this one just hasn't knocked my socks off. I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and venture it may just need humidifying, or perhaps different strings. I wanted to stay away from going with Aquilas, but I may have to resort to that. I'm kind of a tone hog, I admit.

Anyway, nice to meet you all, and God bless.

Rick

Hey Rick, has it been cold enough for you the last couple of days or what?

I have a Kiwaya KTS-7 and a Martin style 1, and once had a Harmony Roy Smeck soprano with the plastic fretboard. That "bark" you hear from the Harmony (and the Martin) is decidedly abscent from my KTS-7. I also had a G-String soprano that had a more subtle "bark", so I was a bit surprised to find no such sound coming out of the KTS-7. That's not a bad thing in my book though, just different. The KTS-7 sounds more like a concert uke to my ears. To me it's about as loud as the Martin style 1 (both have Worth BMs), which is plenty loud in my opinion. I don't remember much about the Harmony but it too had really high action and intonation issues. It did have a distictively "vintage" sound. The Kiwaya sounds very "modern" to me, if it makes any sense. I have not had as much experience with sopranos as tenors, but from what I've handled, the KTS-7 is among the best.

Regarding the buzz on your KTS-4, how is the action at the 12th fret? My KTS-7 with Worth BM has slightly high action (perhaps 0.15"-0.18") and does not buzz. I didn't lower it because it plays well for me (I'm used to tenor string tension). It also might be a nut slot being too deep. I've had ukes before where I filled the nut slot a little bit with epoxy putty to remedy the buzzing issue.

mcgannahanskjellifetti
01-16-2009, 09:48 AM
Hey Rick, has it been cold enough for you the last couple of days or what?

Hey George, I just got back from lunch and it's warming up nicely outside. We're up to 6 degrees now! It really does feel much nicer, and I hear we're in for 30s next week. Time to get out the shorts? ;)

seeso
01-16-2009, 09:51 AM
For an idea of what your uke may sound like with Aquilas, watch Ken Middleton's review of the same ukulele strung with Aquilas:

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

For an example of what happens when you spray water from a squirt bottle in -20 degree Minnesota weather, watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8Hy1Pxyk-Y

SamUke
01-16-2009, 11:46 AM
I had the Kiwaya you speak of and ended up with Aquilas on it, man it sounded awesome.

Lanark
01-16-2009, 01:33 PM
Another thing to do at twenty below is to take a cup or so of boiling water and toss it into the air. it just evaporates instantly with a really cool "whhhoooosh" noise if I remember correctly.

mcgannahanskjellifetti
01-17-2009, 08:32 AM
Well, I put the Worth BMs on again last night and they sounded much better to my ears this time. I didn't like the feel of the Fremonts and I don't particularly care for clear strings anyway. I think I was fooling myself when I thought they sounded better.

The buzzing issue seems to be under control now too. The Worths are a little higher tension I think. Anyway, they sound really sweet and I'm happy now. This is one good uke. I think one problem I have is judging ukes with my guitar ears. I'm used to steel strings with lots of sustain, and I have to remember ukes are a different animal.

The Kiwaya is superbly crafted, beautiful mahogany with a great finish. It's light as a feather and resonates quite nicely.

uluapoundr
01-17-2009, 08:50 AM
Glad you like your Kiwaya. Many purchasers have that first impression blues..not sure if it's due to exagerated expectations or lack of a trained ear for an uke. Sometimes it may be the strings settling and the uke getting use to your climate. Give your uke time, if it's a solid wood top, play the heck out of it and you should hear it sounding sweeter and sweeter. Give your strings time to set and if you still don't like the sound, try a different set of strings. There are strings out there with more sustain than others.

mcgannahanskjellifetti
01-17-2009, 12:23 PM
There are strings out there with more sustain than others.

What would you recommend, uluapoundr? I like dark colored strings, pretty stiff. Not that I don't like the Worth BMs, but I'm always looking to experiment.

myloshylow
01-17-2009, 01:23 PM
Off-topic: Just saw your sig and wanted to ask how you like your Martin 000-15S? I've been shopping around for a 12-fretter and the 15 series with the slotheads seem nice sweet

mcgannahanskjellifetti
01-17-2009, 03:31 PM
Off-topic: Just saw your sig and wanted to ask how you like your Martin 000-15S? I've been shopping around for a 12-fretter and the 15 series with the slotheads seem nice sweet

I love my 000-15s. I think it's about the best deal Martin has going nowadays. I bought it primarily for fingerstyle stuff, but it's also an incredible flatpicking guitar. It holds up to my friend's D-18 just fine. Very well balanced, tons of bass, thick midrange and poppy trebles.

Mine's a 2001 mahogany, and the new ones are either mahogany or sapele. I've played both and I can't tell a difference. The sapele is stripier, and some folks don't like that, but tonewise I can't tell a difference.

IMO, the slothead 12-fret design is the way to go, but the whole 15 series have a very distinctive, warm tone. Can't go wrong with any of them.