Laminate uke question...

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I don’t know if this has been brought up before, but I was wondering how much the veneer of a laminate uke actually contributes to the overall tone. I recently got a Kiwaya ks-5 (which I love) and it got me wondering how much those thin pieces of koa actually play a role in the sound.
 
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Hm that’s interesting, I’d love to know more about their process. It’s my first Kiwaya and I gotta say that it really impresses me. The neck I think is pretty much close to perfection and it sounds great.
 

merlin666

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The veneers contribute much less than the core woods and glue that is used. Poplar and birch core woods can create a much better sounding uke than solid low quality cuts of tropical hardwood.
 

man0a

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I visited the Kiwaya showroom in Tokyo once. They explained that their made-in-China laminates are made from thin sheets of wood that are glued together into a plywood, similar to most of the laminate ukuleles sold in the USA. Kiwaya's made-in-Japan laminates are made from a different process that that pressurizes the layers of wood to squeeze out all the excess air and moisture and create a denser, sturdier and lighter weight (for the same strength) structure. That is why the Kiwaya KS series ukuleles are so much lighter weight as well as better sounding than Kala, etc.
kiwaya.jpg
 
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Yeah that’s kinda what I thought. The veneer could basically be any type of fancy wood and it wouldn’t matter much. I do think it’s interesting that people mention that the ks-1 (mahogany) has a different sound from the ks-5 (koa). Maybe it’s more to do with the build?
 

Ziret

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I owned a KS-5 and a very well-respected, luthier-built solid koa soprano at the same time. Not only did the laminate koa sound like solid koa, it sounded as good as or better than the hand built uke. It was not half as beautiful, though. I wish you hadn’t reminded me, now I kind of want one again.
 
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Ziret, sorry! Haha. It really is a great little instrument. I love having a good sounding, minimal worry uke. I definitely tend to get worried about things like humidity here during the dry, cold Michigan winters...