Going down the Japanese Uke rabbit hole

I noticed that Kiwaya has just released a tenor model of Famous.

 
I noticed that Kiwaya has just released a tenor model of Famous.

Looks good, and I love Kiwaya/Famous ukes, but $700 for a koa laminate tenor is kinda pricey.
 
I noticed that Kiwaya has just released a tenor model of Famous.

I like the more traditional bridge. While I have loved the Famous ukes I have owned I never really liked the bridge they use on the sopranos.
 
Nice... "Hayase" is a name quite familiar to me. He looks young, I wonder how long he's been building...looks like a while based on his shop.
 
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Mika's sound sample on Ukulele Friend + Rin's video of a guitar build did me in. I can explain later (in a NUD 😬). For now enjoy these love sights and sounds!




I bought a Hayase tenor a few months ago from a store on Japan. Same wood (mulberry, right?) as your Ukulele Friend concert and one of my favorites. It sounds different from anything else I have, and the build is perfection. Plus Uke Friend are great to work with. I think you're going to love it.
 
I bought a Hayase tenor a few months ago from a store on Japan. Same wood (mulberry, right?) as your Ukulele Friend concert and one of my favorites. It sounds different from anything else I have, and the build is perfection. Plus Uke Friend are great to work with. I think you're going to love it.
Too late.. Already do!

That's awesome that you got a kuwa (mulberry) Hayase too! I never saw a NUD and didn't find anything come up when I searched "hayase" here. Mine definitely sounds different.. has a quiet, sweet tone, with a vintage feel.

It's actually my second Japanese uke from Shawn at Ukulele Friend and I can attest that he's been awesome. I would say that the sound is a little similar to my Japanese Antar soprano, but that's less grouping Japanese builders and more grouping the sound that attracts me. This feels like a uke that I play more for myself than others. It makes me think of where it comes from, in that quiet countryside, playing with the cicada backing track.

When was yours built? Do you have a NUD that I missed? Mine is from 2017 and it seems he only established himself in 2016 (@badhabits ), according to his label.

That said, there's one minor imperfection that I think might be a perfect start to a thread. We'll see how that goes. Even after 1yr, there's way more perfect detail to be noted. I figure it's due to it being an earlier build.

Has your mulberry started to change color? I can't wait to see how it ages!
 
Too late.. Already do!

That's awesome that you got a kuwa (mulberry) Hayase too! I never saw a NUD and didn't find anything come up when I searched "hayase" here. Mine definitely sounds different.. has a quiet, sweet tone, with a vintage feel.

It's actually my second Japanese uke from Shawn at Ukulele Friend and I can attest that he's been awesome. I would say that the sound is a little similar to my Japanese Antar soprano, but that's less grouping Japanese builders and more grouping the sound that attracts me. This feels like a uke that I play more for myself than others. It makes me think of where it comes from, in that quiet countryside, playing with the cicada backing track.

When was yours built? Do you have a NUD that I missed? Mine is from 2017 and it seems he only established himself in 2016 (@badhabits ), according to his label.

That said, there's one minor imperfection that I think might be a perfect start to a thread. We'll see how that goes. Even after 1yr, there's way more perfect detail to be noted. I figure it's due to it being an earlier build.

Has your mulberry started to change color? I can't wait to see how it ages!
Correcting an error I made in the other thread, mine was built in 2018 (I'm away from home and can't verify off the label, but 2018 is how Dolphin listed it.) Sorry, no NUD.

Mine also struck me as quiet and sweet when I first got it. But I changed the strings to Aquila Reds with an unwound low G, and whether it was that change or my getting used to it and getting more out of it, I don't consider it quiet any longer. Still sweet, clear and ringing, but not at all quiet. And no matter how hard you play, it never gets overdriven and muddled.

I keep it in the excellent case when not playing and haven't noticed any color change, although pictures don't do it's golden warmth justice.
 
Correcting an error I made in the other thread, mine was built in 2018 (I'm away from home and can't verify off the label, but 2018 is how Dolphin listed it.) Sorry, no NUD.

Mine also struck me as quiet and sweet when I first got it. But I changed the strings to Aquila Reds with an unwound low G, and whether it was that change or my getting used to it and getting more out of it, I don't consider it quiet any longer. Still sweet, clear and ringing, but not at all quiet. And no matter how hard you play, it never gets overdriven and muddled.

I keep it in the excellent case when not playing and haven't noticed any color change, although pictures don't do it's golden warmth justice.
My SN is 17014, so I'm gonna assume it was his 14th instrument of 2017.

Check out his Instagram post about mulberry changing color. Pretty drastic! Maybe a good reason for me to go get some vitamin D when it's available here in the PNW!
1000015849.jpg
(Btw, the post was originally in Japanese, so I'm sure some of the translation isn't perfect)

I know spruce also changes over time. This is a good reminder to get my spruce top guitar out of the case and back under my arm!

And yeah.. a string change will come sooner than later and I'm looking forward to hearing the differences!
 
My SN is 17014, so I'm gonna assume it was his 14th instrument of 2017.

Check out his Instagram post about mulberry changing color. Pretty drastic! Maybe a good reason for me to go get some vitamin D when it's available here in the PNW!
View attachment 153555
(Btw, the post was originally in Japanese, so I'm sure some of the translation isn't perfect)

I know spruce also changes over time. This is a good reminder to get my spruce top guitar out of the case and back under my arm!

And yeah.. a string change will come sooner than later and I'm looking forward to hearing the differences!
That's some change for just 3 years. May have to go plein-air myself, and make sure all sides get equal exposure.
 
Maybe they mean laminate the way Ono Ukes does
Laminated loses in spec
I bet the Famous FT-5 is made from the same kind of laminate as the Famous FC-5 (concert scale for 51,480 yen or about US$360) or the Famous FS-5 (soprano scale for 37,620 yen or about US$265). This is a much higher quality laminate than what Kala etc uses, but it is layers of wood, not solid wood.
 
Probably my NUD serve well to this thread.
So here I am.

This is Custom Urabe Tenor Ukulele.

I've been attending Kyas Ryo's group ukulele lessons here in Osaka at Namba once every two month since this year.
The Ukulele he uses during his lesson is Anuenue Kyas Whale. That ukulele is a gorgeous one, and I've been selling all my mid-range ukuleles to purchase something equivalent to that model tone-wise.

I've visited stores to stores, and played so many wonderful ukuleles.
This is the one that I chose to accompany with for my long ukulele journey.

Top wood is being described as Red Cedar. Neck, side, back are Honduras Mahogany.
The tone is cleaner and shimmers little more than Hawaian Koa when I compare the sound with K-1T or US1K which I also own.

The head is slotted but the 0 fret gives lower tension so I can keep playing all day long with my soft fingers.

I was so curious what kind of Red Cedar would give such joyful tone so I actually asked Urabe-san the Luthier in Kyoto for more insight about this ukulele.
Surprisingly it turns out that the top wood described as Red Cedar is Japanese Cedar from Ise shrine which recently referred as Japanese Miyama Cedar in the market; at least a few hundreds aged Cedar grows in Ise Shrine for ages.
These are divine trees that cutting any of those are strictly prohibited and only those from the collapsed trees from aging are supplied by the authority.
Urabe-san is one of a few Luthier that the Ise city chose to supply the wood.

Even just playing C Am F G7 gives such joy, I am satisfied with my decision.
 

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Probably my NUD serve well to this thread.
So here I am.

This is Custom Urabe Tenor Ukulele.

I've been attending Kyas Ryo's group ukulele lessons here in Osaka at Namba once every two month since this year.
The Ukulele he uses during his lesson is Anuenue Kyas Whale. That ukulele is a gorgeous one, and I've been selling all my mid-range ukuleles to purchase something equivalent to that model tone-wise.

I've visited stores to stores, and played so many wonderful ukuleles.
This is the one that I chose to accompany with for my long ukulele journey.

Top wood is being described as Red Cedar. Neck, side, back are Honduras Mahogany.
The tone is cleaner and shimmers little more than Hawaian Koa when I compare the sound with K-1T or US1K which I also own.

The head is slotted but the 0 fret gives lower tension so I can keep playing all day long with my soft fingers.

I was so curious what kind of Red Cedar would give such joyful tone so I actually asked Urabe-san the Luthier in Kyoto for more insight about this ukulele.
Surprisingly it turns out that the top wood described as Red Cedar is Japanese Cedar from Ise shrine which recently referred as Japanese Miyama Cedar in the market; at least a few hundreds aged Cedar grows in Ise Shrine for ages.
These are divine trees that cutting any of those are strictly prohibited and only those from the collapsed trees from aging are supplied by the authority.
Urabe-san is one of a few Luthier that the Ise city chose to supply the wood.

Even just playing C Am F G7 gives such joy, I am satisfied with my decision.
That headstock alone deserves special attention in The Headstock Thread! Thank you for information on this beauty, including the tonewood for the top. Wow.
 
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