Kiwaya KS-5 Gloss Soprano Ukulele
The koa used with this soprano ukulele is nicely patterned with a strong grain, and under the gloss finish really shines with a gold hue. The metal fixings for the tuners are gold coloured, which matches in well, while the bridge is perfectly stained to match the rest of the body. There’s a simple black and gold soundhole ring as decoration, with the Kiwaya logo screenprinted on the headstock to match exactly. Aside from this, the proportions and shape are very traditional.
The tone is very flexible dependent on your style. A gentle drag of your fingers down the strings yields a pretty, melodic sound, with nice overtones that is relaxing, subtle and sweet, with good sustain. Be firmer in your strumming and there’s good volume, some nice woody tones and a full, rich body – to the point where I had to double check I hadn’t tuned it a tone down – much warmer than expected.
Kiwaya are particularly know for is the brilliance of their laminates. They’re super-strong, yet thin, with high pressure used to create a material that is both resonant and still economical. This koa laminate is an example, as the sound is equal or superior to many all solid models – it completely disproves the generalisation that ‘all solid is best’. Excellent friction pegs, a compensated saddle, well crafted nut (36mm) and fluorocarbon strings are fitted.
Set-up out of the box must be next on the list of notable features. While the fingerboard’s spaciousness was always going to be an advantage, throw in the low action and well chosen strings and this lightweight uke is a pleasure to play. Interestingly, from the nut the fingerboard widens very quickly to give more space on the outside edges A an G strings – useful for those who bend strings and have ever bent too far and over the edge of the frets.
The Kiwaya KS-5 soprano ukulele is a real beauty, sounds better than many a solid model and is made well, to a clever design that maximises playability. If you’re fussy about string height, nut width, tuners and overall weight, this instrument delivers maximum comfort and ease of play.
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