Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wood types used in ukuleles

It seems we have more than one blog visitor engaged in the ukulele arts. This smallish, friendly instrument is associated with the Philippines, and with Hawaii, of course. Arthur Godfrey, Tiny Tim, and Paul McCartney can be found to have played ukuleles. I have two of them, both modified by me, and I want another, after I get done (some year) with getting the American Beauty Mandolin up and running.

There are some really cool ukes out there. The more expensive ukes tend to use the really fancy curly koa from Hawaii. Koa is a scarce species, and the use of the material is controversial. Fortunately, many expert uke makers including Raymond from Island Ukulele in Kauai, have found that very successful ukes can be made out of several types of wood, including maple.

We were in Kapaa and stopped into Larry's Music of Kapaa, and spotted a number of Island Ukuleles on the wall. Very impressive I must say, especially the tone of one particular ukulele that had a body shaped more like a dreadnought than a traditional uke. "Chladni" I said to myself, "would have predicted this". Also, Larry can definitely play a uke!

It is not the material in many cases as the shape that defines the sound. Now obviously a steel guitar is going to sound drastically different than a wood guitar. I don't mean completely different materials. But material categories, for instance, wood, have a range of values that tend to behave the same, or similarly, mechanically.

Check out Island Ukulele.


Brad said...

We were also impressed at Larry's Music in Kapa'a. I believe the awesome ukulele player was named Samuel Bonanno. We bought 2 Kamoa Ukes and he even taught us how to play it! Only in Kaua'i !

Bob Crowley said...

That's it.

Well I couldn't afford one of the Island ukes so instead I bought a Kauai-made shakuhachi.

I could go for something from Garden Island Barbecue right now.

zack said...

I also bought an awesome uke from Samuel at Larry's Music. He taught me some chords I will keep practicing and go back some day to jam with him at his store. I know I will never play as good as he does, he's the ukulele man for sure!
P.S. I miss Kaua'i