Kiwaya Shinobi Solid Kauri Pine Tenor Ukulele Red
Wow! This Shinobi is an astonishing thing. Anything named after the legendary Shinobi (Ninja) has some serious living up to do - and this thing does, and then some.
Kauri Pine (Agathis) is not a common tonewood, but I find myself wondering why it is not used more widely. It has a tone very like Cherry - full, warm and resonant, with great clarity and sustain. Picked notes have a wonderful attack and zing to the beginning of the envelope, whilst strummed chords sound really clean, with great volume when required. And like all Japanese made ukes, it oozes precision in its fit and finish, and in the details of the intonation, which is class leading.
In the hand it feels very easy to play, owing to the 37mm nut width, familiar string spacing and shallow neck profile, which is most reminiscent of a Kanile'a. It is quite a shallow neck, with a flattened C shape to it which thickens the higher up you play. But, it makes playing all the way up the neck very comfortable indeed. And with sustain and intonation this good up the neck, why wouldn't you?
Yes, it has a high price tag, but no, it is not a triumph of style over substance. I am really, really impressed with this beautiful ukulele and if you are looking for something a little different with a healthy dose of design flair to match its performance, seriously consider the Shinobi.
Do not be put off by the apparent discrepancy in the light/dark areas on the back. This effect is very common on quarter sawn bookmatched wood, and actually shows that the wood has been crafted correctly. The effect changes depending on which way you view it - so viewed from one way one side will look darker, and from the other side the opposite side will look darker. That's Ninja magic!
If you want the black version, our friend Matt at World of Ukes has it for sale here.
Solid Kauri Pine (Agathis) top, back and sides
One piece top
Transparent Red gloss finish
Mahogany neck, gloss finish
Indian Rosewood fretboard and bridge
Ninja throwing star inlay on fretboard
Bone nut and saddle
37mm nut width, 29mm G to A string spacing
Worth Brown High G strings
Shallow neck profile, most similar to Kanile'a
Gotoh UK700 open back geared tuners
431mm scale length
Faux tortoiseshell binding
Strap button installed on lower bout