Kiwaya KTS-7 Vintage Style Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
This beautiful Kiwaya KTS-7 ukulele is modelled on the classic Martin 3 uke, that famous manufacturer's first foray into the world of ‘deluxe ukuleles’. Now, you’d think writing a Kiwaya KTS-7 review would be simple, a pleasure even – but it presents complications. You see, on picking up this handsome instrument, feeling its featherweight construction and starting to play, you realise that it is very hard to stop playing. And it turns out that I, as a man, can’t multitask to the tune of playing the Kiwaya and typing a review of it at the same time!
The Martin Style 3 came out in at the time of the first world war, and was distinctive for its classy, decorative looks. Now, courtesy of the Japanese luthiers at Kiwaya, a precision replica has been created. The superlight construction, nice wide nut (38mm), accurate intonation and slick action all combine to create a wonderful playing experience. Of course, it has a soprano scale length, but the wider fingerboard and low action combine to make this a soprano accessible to all – even those (like me) who regularly play a tenor.
Naturally, as the Kiwaya KTS-7 is modelled on a vintage uke, the tone and projection mimic a vintage ukulele too. There’s a playfulness about it, together with a fantastic balance. It retains a traditional sprightly soprano sound while drawing on the warmth of the solid mahogany body to hit high notes with superb clarity and chords to wash over you with a pleasant warmth. And all of this, because the tonewood is nice and thin, with the vibrations from your playing spreading from the uke into your chest. Player and Kiwaya KTS-7 become as one! Ok, maybe a little over the top, but it is flipping good!
As well as the superb quality solid mahogany body, there’s a compensated bone nut and saddle and rosewood fingerboard and bridge. Nothing unusual in the use of rosewood on a ukulele, but this stuff is polished and shaped like a piece of ornate furniture! The strings are made by Fremont and are nice and smooth on the fingers, while doing their best to imitate the classic Martin ukulele tone. I’d strongly suggest they’re tried, although not every ukulele forum ‘expert’ is fan – you should certainly make up your own mind about them. The strings, in combination with the deluxe Gotoh geared pegs (UPT planetary models) deliver very stable tuning with effortless peg turning – something I’d recommend putting into practice with an occasional change to ADF#B tuning, which seems to make the Kiwaya KTS-7 sing even more gorgeously.
There's an option to take this Kiwaya with a professional Mi-Si pickup fitted - which takes an extra week (but would make an AMAZING instrument!).
In conclusion, if you buy a Kiwaya KTS-7 soprano, you’ll have a truly professional-grade instrument in your hands. It mimics the vintage sound brilliantly, giving you a classic tone without the drawbacks of buying a very old instrument. It is like having a beautiful old instrument in your ukulele collection, with a warranty and a perfect finish.