Kiwaya ukuleles are based, and made in Japan. Over there, they are known as ‘Famous ukuleles’.
You’ll find them proudly declaring ‘Ukuleles since 1919′, which isn’t exactly true. Kiwaya were established then, but they were a gramophone maintenance company. It wasn’t until Kitaroh Okamoto (the man now most associated with the company) joined in 1957 that they began producing ukuleles – just in time for ukuleles completely going out of fashion in Japan.
In more recent years, they have gone from strength to strength and recently launched Kiwaya USA.
There are two ranges of Kiwaya ukuleles that are particularly popular. First is the K-Wave ‘Rock Uke’ series. These ukes imitate the looks of classic guitars such as the Fender Telecaster and the Gibson Les Paul.
The other series is Kiwaya’s reproductions of Martin ukuleles. These ukuleles are highly regarded and have been described as being almost as good as the real thing. They are certainly very closely modeled on the originals.
Kiwaya Ukulele Review
Ken Middleton reviews his Kiwaya KTS-4.
And here’s a pdf with Karen Wagner’s review of her Kiwaya KTS
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