Thursday, 30 August 2012

A new Kiwaya KTS-4 Soprano for a very happy bunny

So much excitement - it seems a long time since I had a little fantasize about what my ideal soprano ukulele would be like, and I dismissed any ideas of owning a custom-built uke as quickly as I had dreamed about one. Why people have them is a whole subject for discussion in itself - suffice it to say, I'm not in the market. I'm still a learner and was brought up not to be extravagant. But I did decide that I wanted a soprano for a traditional sound, and that I wanted a good one - for quality of build, precise intonation and a beautiful finish, in solid wood.

When it came to factory-built ukes, there were three contenders, and I wanted to see them and play them. Whilst in London, I dragged poor LSH (Long-Suffering-Husband) off to a ukulele shop - yes, a music shop selling just ukuleles, and advertising the Kiwaya and the Bruko on their website - but no chance, they don't seem to actually stock them. I did spend a happy hour in there playing all the other solid wood ukes though, while LSH spent an equally happy hour in the excellent pub across the road, where the draft bitter was apparently excellent - but I was particularly interested in the Kiwaya KTS-4; I posted Ken Middleton'e reviews of the Kiwaya (made in Japan) and the Bruko #6 (made in Germany) on here, and low and behold, a few days later a used Kiwaya KTS-4 (solid mahogany, no laminates) came up on ebay uk! What a coincidence is that!

I watched that baby and drooled over it all week - LHS doesn't really get why anyone should want more than one wooden uke. And I like a peaceful life. But as the final minutes ticked away I got very twitchy... and he noticed. Doesn't miss a thing - not after forty years. So I told him about it. He must have been feeling particularly mellow - because he replied "You'd better get up the stairs to your computer then!"

"What - to bid for it?"

"Yes if you like!"

Did I need telling twice? I do love that man of mine...the minutes ticked away while I fiddled about getting to the page... now what should my maximum bid be......?

Well - I got it! And yesterday it arrived. It's fitted with Aquila strings, which I plan to change very quickly, so I'm not going to talk much about the sound except to say that yes, the intonation does seem to be spot on, just as it should be, and when you pluck the strings, you can feel the whole body vibrate. The body is built of very thin wood - which, in a ukulele, is a good thing, as long as the internal bracing is adequate.

I just love the look and feel of this uke - it surpasses expectations. The satin finish on it just glows. The tuners are good quality friction tuners and the neck is nice and thin. Rosewood fingerboard, of course. And it is SO light - I'm going to weigh it and compare the weight with my little Mahalo soprano - just to see the difference.

So - that's my soprano story. I'm very happy with my concert uke, and I love this - and I can't really get into tenors at all..... so I'm a happy bunny. A very happy bunny......

Plan - put Living Water Strings on it. Aquilas are very loud, and I want to try the Living Water - because they are just beautiful on my Tanglewood concert uke.

Then - put a Living Water low G string on the Tanglewood to try it out. A low G set-up is great for the jazzy numbers...busy day tomorrow....

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HI! I hope you enjoy this blog and I'd love to hear your comments! But I know you'll forgive me if I read them over before I click the "publish" button! Thanks!