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Five Essential, Classic Hawaiian Ukulele Albums

Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo`ole

Long before Jake Shimabukuro helped launch the ukulele into the stratosphere, many other Hawaiian ukulele players paved the way for his ascent. Some musicians were active at the height of the first wave of ukulele mania in the ’20s and ’30s—and delivered the earliest recordings of uke virtuosity—while others were the heart and soul of [...]

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Byron Yasui Pens a Ukulele Tour de Force for Jake Shimabukuro

Jake Shimabukuro performing with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra

By Audrey Coleman Photography courtesy of Hawaii Symphony Orchestra It’s not that nobody has ever thought of writing a concerto for the ukulele. In 1999, the Wallingford (Connecticut) Symphony Orchestra commissioned uke player-composer Jim Beloff to write Uke Can’t Be Serious: A Concerto for Ukulele and Symphony, which was performed several times. Then there’s the Ukulele [...]

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Review: Ohana’s OBU-22 Ukulele Packs a Punch

Ohana OBU-22 Ukulele

As the bass branch of the ukulele family tree grows, it seems to be sprouting in a few different directions. The latest development is toward bigger bass ukes that some players may find easier to use. The Ohana OBU-22 compact bass ukulele is one such instrument. The pairing of a larger body and longer scale [...]

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Review: KoAloha’s Naupaka Tenor and Soprano Ukuleles

KoAloha Naupaka Ukuleles

I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me when I first opened the boxes from Hawaiian ukulele makers KoAloha. Surprised to find mix-and-match tops staring back at me, I squinted, did a double take, and finally took a closer look at KoAloha’s new Naupaka ukes. The Naupaka bodies are made with two different woods: [...]

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Taimane Gardner: Reaching for the Stars

Ukulele-Star-Taimane Gardner © Shaun Edward.jpg

By Pat Moran Taimane Gardner is used to the ukulele being disrespected. “It happens everywhere, even in Hawaii,” the Oahu native says. “I get into a cab, they see my instrument case, and they ask me what I play. When I say ukulele, they say, ‘But what do you really do? How do you pay [...]

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Coca-Cola Commissions One-of-a-Kind Ukulele for Warren Buffett

Luthier Mark Roberts with Buffett's custom Coca-Cola ukulele

Portland-based luthier Mark Roberts, who builds custom ukuleles recognized for their tone and signature side sound ports, got quite a surprise in March when he received a message through his website regarding a new commission. It was from Coca-Cola’s advertising agency, Wieden+Kennedy, asking Roberts to create a ukulele to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the [...]

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