NUD - Kiwaya 4ts Soprano - A Kind of Comparision Between Kiwaya and Koaloha KSM-00


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Oct 18, 2013
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First, I want to thank Mike at Ukerepublic for his help and his patience with me. Mikes the best.

Today, I received a Kiwaya KTS-4 at my office. It is made of all solid mahogany (top, back, side, and neck) except the fretboard which is ebony. It came with Gotoh UPT tuners, and Hilo strings. The build quality of this instrument is comparable to my Collings UT1 which is flawless. The only negative were the strings. They were like rubber bands, played and sounded horrible - like a toy. Mike told me from the outset that I might want to change them out so he included a set of Fremont black flora carbon strings. I quickly changed the strings out, and the difference was amazing. The next string change will be Salvarez soprano strings, or Worth.

In contrast to my recently purchased Koaloha Ksm-00, the Kiwaya is mellow and sweet. Where as the Koaloha is the equivalent to a howletizer, loud and precocious. I can’t say that I like one better than the other, but I do like the contrast.

Build quality, the Kiwaya looks to be several notches above the Koaloha. My Koaloha had glue splatters on the inside, and the binding on the fretboard was not as clean as I think it should be - especially for what I paid for it. I kept it because it is great for what I want to use it for - to immulate mandolin chops for old time and bluegrass music. The Kiwaya, is exceptionally well built, no oozing glue or glue splatter on the inside. Again, it is as clean as my Collings UT1. And, did I mention the satin finish - beautiful and smooth - similar to my Collings.

Both ukuleles are easy and fun to play - both ukuleles are hard to put down once you start playing. I purchased both from Ukerepublic.

The Koaloha is much louder, but not nearly as balanced as the Kiwaya. Intonation up the neck on the Kiwaya, to my ear is a bit better. Since I will use the two ukuleles for different types of music, I have no intention of ever selling either of them. Both ukuleles are off the chart great.

My next purchase, to balance out my ukulele family, will be a concert ukulele. As of now, I’m leaning toward either a Kiwaya KC1 or a KC2. I plan to pull trigger some time in early spring. After that, I’m done with buying ukuleles, and plan to record some. And, I figure, in a few years I’ll either be too old to play or dead and gone, so all my grand kids will have a quality instrument to learn on.

Again, Mike and Donna, thank you so much. You have become dear friends...

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How would you compare the necks of the Kiwaya and Koaloha as far as feel, depth, width and playability?

Very similar in width. I haven’t measured them to be sure. I’ll measure them and get back with you. The feel and depth are similar also. The major thing apart from sound and playability (both do that well) is the superior build quality of the Kiwaya. The inside of my Koaloha looks like it was sloppily glued together - it looks cheap. That is the only complaint I have about the Koaloha. Other than that, Koaloha barks and holds its own. Also, the KSM-oo is much louder and brighter.
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Congrats on a nice acquisition! Big fan of Kiwaya myself. I do like the KoAloha tone and agree the craftsmanship is generally not as clean.
Congrats on a nice acquisition! Big fan of Kiwaya myself. I do like the KoAloha tone and agree the craftsmanship is generally not as clean.

Eddie, I like the way you described the craftsmanship between the two ukuleles. I re-read my review and it sounded like I was dissing Koaloha - that was not my intention. The Koaloha KSM-OO is a well built ukulele. I just think that it could be a cleaner built. The date on my Koaloha was about the time they were making a move to their new factory facility. Maybe the person gluing it together was in too much of hurry to wipe off the excess glue. Structurally, the build is top-notch. I will get a lot of mileage out of both the Kiwaya and Koaloha.
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