21st c. Luthiers from Hawaii click for more

In being on the look out for nice Ukuleles I see the work of a number of full and part time luthiers. The instruments they make look very nice and worthy of note.

Hiro Kawashima - Cocolo / Hana

Tricky to write because all of his websites are in Japanese but I believe he is based in Pearl City, Oahu. He started working with the Ukulele in 2003 when he was doing some session work playing the trumpet for Herb Ohta. This showed him what a Ukulele can do so he decided to make them, (I don't know how he knew luthiery?) and started soon after with the Hana branding; under this name he made Soprano, Concert and Tenor scale Ukuleles and I have seen a custom Lili'u. Some time around 2009 he decided to change the branding to Cocolo and as far as I can see these only come as Concerts. Both brands are made by taking a single block and carving out the back and sides and as a result both brand have a curved back shape.

Reid Shigemura - Ho'okani Music Co.

Based in a Music shop in Honolulu, Oahu he learn luthiery from his father, a Violin maker, (who also apparently made some Ukuleles) and use to work in another Musical instrument shop before starting his own in 2011. He makes Cajons as well as Ukuleles and as a result of this in 2015 via a successful kickstart campaign, he started production of a box like travel Ukulele with a detachable neck and internal tuners he calls Pahulele These come as Soprano or Tenor with a few wood options though mainly birch ply a number of decoration options and an optional pickup. These seem to be his main output now but he still includes Soprano standard figure 8 Ukuleles on his site and certainly in the past has made Soprano and Tenor scale Ukuleles plus Guitars under the Ho'okani brand. I'm unsure how large the operation is? at one point he says he is on his own but I have seen pictures of a workshop setting with a number of people working

Woodley White - Pu'uwai

He is a luthier from Naalehu, on the Big Island, and started making Guitars in 1992 learning from a number of other luthiers but he particularly picks out a Guitar maker called Jeff Elliot as his main mentor. At this time he was still working as a Pastor but in 2007 he gave up the ministry and became a full time luthier. Since starting out he has added Ukuleles to the catalogue under the brand name Pu'uwai. All of the Ukuleles I have seen have been Tenors, with a kind of split heart motif as a logo on the headstock, and coming from the Big Island they are usually Koa, but he says he can also make Soprano, Concert and Baritone scales. In addition to Ukuleles he makes electric, acoustic, harp and lap steel Guitars, (all of which get Hawaiian names too)

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