Flight WUS-4 Soprano - REVIEW

Dohle

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I was really excited to see this review. I often check what both Flight and Andreas David (from Gute Ukulele) are up to and learned about these new ukes a month or two ago already, so I was really curious what you thought of either of them. Not really surprised to see the koa model get a good score.

Andreas is actually a bit more relevant regarding the story of these ukes. He initially didn't want to sell Flight ukes in his shop because he didn't really like their higher-end models, but after he tested a prototype of these Hawaiian-made ukes he was so impressed that he wanted to stock these specifically. You can actually get the WUS-3 model at his shop (https://gute-ukulele.de/) as well, and I've also seen them in the Uke Room so they can be found in a few stores, but Andreas' shop is the only place you'll find the koa model. It's a really nice shop by the way and I can't recommend it enough. I've bought two high-end K brand ukes from there myself. The only caveat is that it's in German but you can easily figure it out by using Google Translate.

I have to agree that the WUS-4 seems very similar to the Kiwaya KS-5. And if the build quality is anything like the KS-5 then this really is a special ukulele, laminate or not. I think the KS-5 might be a bit cheaper though. I paid maybe half as much for my KS-5, although admittedly that was heavily discounted, but even the RRP of the KS-5 is a bit less than the WUS-4 I believe. In that regard, to me the WUS-3 might be better value unless you really want a koa uke.
 

bazmaz

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Yes - been talking to Andreas about it today - nice that he saw the quality.

As for the KS-5 - they used to be much cheaper, but I based my comparison on the last time I saw one in stock in the UK a few months back. World of Ukes in Carlisle had them and they were sold for £375. So only £5 less than the EUR/GPB conversion on the €420 that they are in Gute Ukulele.
 

Dohle

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Ah of course, I always forget you Britons get shafted on prices. Even worse than other European countries usually. In that sense, the price comparison is fair. The RRP for the KS-5 in the US market is around $385 I believe, but yeah, UK / EU prices are generally closer to what the WUS-4 costs.
 

M3Ukulele

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Good review. I like the Uke a lot. I’m glad you addressed the laminate vrs wood with an example and the fact “all laminates are not created equal”. I think we need more higher end, well build laminates that sound that good. I’m a tenor guy so guess I have to look to Kiwaya.

Perhaps when the world resets to a new normal, Flight can re enter the market. If you ever hear of these Japanese builder opening up shop with their own brand in Japan, please let us all know.

I think there is a market for these better laminate builds. I’d buy one for sure.

Thanks
 

man0a

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Are these "Japanese luthiers based in Hawaii" the Mitsuba company? They've been making ukuleles in Honolulu for several years under the GCEA and Maililei brand names. Last year when I visited Hawaii, these instruments were easy to find in local music stores for prices ranging from around $200 (for full-laminate models) to $600 (for solid-top models). We didn't get much time to test them, but the more expensive ones sounded pretty good. I'd love to see some full reviews of these brands. I assume they are still easy to buy.

I believe these instruments are not 100% made in Hawaii like the K-brands are. Rough wood work is done in Asia and then shipped to Hawaii for final construction.
 

M3Ukulele

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Curious , I did a search of Kiwaya laminate built ukes. They are all soprano or concert. No tenors. I kept looking for higher end tenor in Laminate.... they seem hard to find. I tried also to search for high end or best instrument laminate from Japan and also can’t find much info. It appears the really good laminate used in Kiwaya instruments are hard to find? Given humidity, travel, etc, I’d have thought there would be more instruments or information out there on better laminates of instrument building!
 

Dohle

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Curious , I did a search of Kiwaya laminate built ukes. They are all soprano or concert. No tenors. I kept looking for higher end tenor in Laminate.... they seem hard to find.

That's a good point actually. It might have something to do with the fact that the tenor size hasn't been that popular in Japan (and other far Eastern countries), and it's the Japanese luthiers who mostly even make the higher-end laminate ukes. For example, Kiwaya tenors in general are rarer than hen's teeth and they're not even listed on their website. I only know they even exist because I saw one on SUS recently. I'm guessing the tenor is starting to become a bit more popular in the East currently.
 
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I bought the WUS-3 from Andreas and I love it. It has a fantastic sound to be sure. I am quite puzzled by these ukuleles, though. They are almost exactly identical to the two ukuleles in Kiwaya's Eco-series - and also very similar to the Matsubi Gakki ukules mentioned above. It would be interesting to know more about any possible connections between these ukuleles and who exactly the mysterious highly regarded Japanese luthiers are :)
 

bazmaz

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Oh that's great news - back when I reviewed it, the idea of making them again was just an idea, but they were keen. Just needed to pin the builders down. So glad they did!
 

EDW

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I have not seen these available anywhere, but perhaps I missed them with the number of instruments out there
 

TimWilson

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It's funny that Andreas mentions not liking the logo decal on the original batch -- when I ordered my WUS-3 (mahogany) from him last year, right after I saw Baz's review, he offered to remove it for free. LOL I happily took him up on it.

I ADORE this uke, and other than rear-facing friction pegs, the only change I would make is that I would like to have had a shinier finish. Now that they're offering that stock, and this is the Koa series, and the lovely new logo properly applied, this is even more of a no-brainer than before.

I also can't say enough good things about working with Andreas. I had the uke in my hands in 5 days from when I placed the order, especially remarkable some he shipped from Berlin to me in.... wait for it...Hawaii. LOL Where yes I can confirm, nothing built here is available for anything like this price, that sounds anything like this beautiful... And kidding aside, I really was floored by how quickly I had it, especially smack in the middle of last year's international shipping challenges.

Non-Europeans should also note that the price will be lower than listed without VAT.
 

man0a

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WUS-3 is similar to which model from Kiwaya / Famous ?
The base level Kiwaya Eco-series would be the KS-1 or FS-1. These cost the equivalent of around US$200 in Japan, but are hard to find in the USA.
 

bazmaz

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N
The base level Kiwaya Eco-series would be the KS-1 or FS-1. These cost the equivalent of around US$200 in Japan, but are hard to find in the USA.
No, I would say more like the KS-5
- which are more money than $200