Learning Ukulele with Curt

My Personal `Ukulele Recommendations

I'm a little biased but here are my personal recommendations for custom and production ukuleles. — Curt

My main performance and go to ukuleles are: two Cedar top and Rosewood back and side Ko'olau CS Tenors (one built in 2009 and and one built in 2017).

Custom Builders & Luthiers

These are some of the best ukuleles available. I personally have played ukuleles from all theses builders and have two Ko'olau CS Contemporary Tenors. — Curt

Ko`olau Guitar and Ukulele Company



Listing Info

from the Ko`olau Guitar and Ukulele Company web site

Ko'olau Guitars and 'Ukuleles are professional quality, hand crafted instruments. The shop is located in Kaneohe, on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii, approximately fifteen minutes from Honolulu, at the foot of the the beautiful Ko'olau Mountains.

For many years Ko'olau Guitar and Ukulele has been building some of the finest quality ukes money can buy, allowing the customer to pick from many woods and decorative options. The company was founded and is still run by John Kitakis, whose career began as a furniture maker. He moved from the mainland US to Hawaii forty years ago, then for a period of time went back to the mainland doing warranty repair work for Martin, Taylor, Gibson, Guild and other guitar manufacturers, and in between built custom guitars and mandolins. Eventually he, his wife and children returned to Oahu to begin Ko'olau Guitar & Ukulele Company. All of John's children worked in the family business, from sorting screws to sweeping floors. His oldest son, Noa eventually chose to pursue stringed instrument making, and now manages all Ko'olau production. His youngest son, Andrew also joined the family doing repairs and assisting in Ko'olau construction and finishing, but eventually established his own retail guitar and 'ukulele business.

In the mid 90's John, Noa, and Andrew moved back to Hawaii and started Ko'olau Guitar and Ukulele. They had already repaired and refinished thousands of high end stringed instruments. And on a custom basis, built acoustic guitars. They knew what works, and now was the time to change the entire scene of `ukulele making. High end 'ukuleles, up to the early 90's were unknown, still not appreciated as a professional stringed instrument.

But the performers were there, and Ko'olau soon became known as the 'high' end ukulele. Finally the ukulele was respected, not as just a fun 'toy' but instead earning it's place in the world of professional music. Early on, the real 'old timers' like Lyle Ritz, Benny Chong, Led Kaapana, Ned Kaapana, Ernie Cruz, Chino Montero, Kimo Hussey, Mike Keale, Roy Sakuma, and Tracey Terada bought Kola's and were exposing others to the quality coming from the foothills of the Ko'olau mountains. In time the new and upcoming `ukulele masters, such as Abe Lagrimas, Craig Brandau, and Paul Hemmings discovered Ko'olau. And so, the beginning of a legend.

More information available on the Ko`olau Guitar and Ukulele Company's web site.

Even more information, discussion and comments on this listing below.

Kamaka Ukuleles



Listing Info

from the Kamaka Ukuleles web site

Since 1916, Kamaka Hawaii, Inc. has prided itself on producing only ukuleles of the finest quality -- durable, exquisite instruments that improve with age. Like the ukuleles, the company itself continues to withstand the test of time. The company's longevity shows its commitment to both customer and employee alike, and reflects other important values as well.

The producers of a documentary entitled"Heart Strings: The Story of the Kamaka `Ukulele", describes the Kamaka history this way: "Theirs is a story of hard work, fortitude, honesty and creativity as seen through a distinctly Hawaiian point of view, rooted in such concepts as Aloha (unconditional love), Malama (to serve and care for), and Pono (doing what's right)."

More information available on the Kamaka Ukuleles's web site.

Even more information, discussion and comments on this listing below.

Kanilea Ukulele



Listing Info

from the Kanilea Ukulele web site

We specialize in standard to professional grade musical instruments. Each ukulele is finely hand crafted using the highest grade, well-seasoned wood and scaled to produce a perfect intonation. These instruments are meticulously built by skilled craftsmen, under the guidance of Master Luthier, Joseph Souza. Our state of the art, humidity controlled facilities in Kaneohe, Hawaii allows Kanile‘a ‘Ukulele balance “Traditions and Technologies”. Every ‘ukulele comes with a 100% customer satisfaction, money back guarantee and our industry leading limited lifetime warranty.

Joe and Kristen were both born and raised in Kailua on the island of O‘ahu. Joe is the youngest of eight, and Kristen is an only child. Kristen’s background is in customer sales and accounting. For Joe, the ‘ukulele has always been part of his life. He can recall, from a very young age, going to family parties and everyone sitting in a circle and jamming Hawaiian music on their ‘ukuleles and guitars. ”In elementary school is when I first got exposed to the ‘ukulele. It was a requirement for music. Hawaiian language class in High school is when I really started showing serious interest in the ‘ukulele, although, it wasn’t until after I graduated that the ‘ukulele started to influence my life.”

More information available on the Kanilea Ukulele's web site.

Even more information, discussion and comments on this listing below.

Recommended Entry Level and Intermediate Brand for Major Manufactures

I’ve had or have a few of theses. Nice upgrades up from cheap beginner models and up.

Pono Manufactures

Pono instruments are professionally designed and handcrafted by the Ko'olau Guitar and `Ukulele Company and on the Island of Java , with final adjustments and set-up on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Here is what the Kitakis familay says about a Pono vs. their higher end Ko'olau, and I whole heartily agree.

". . . And our Pono workers have the same meticulous and conscientious attitude that we have in Hawaii. We consider our Pono and Ko'olau ukuleles similar to the duo level auto makers such as Toyota/Lexus, Nissan/Infinity, and Honda/Acura. Both are made by the same manufacturer, but made in various locations around the world, and both are very high quality."

> I've owned five or six Pono ukuleles in the past before I got my first Ko'olau and we opened our Funky Frets music store. These are amazing instruments for the cost. - Curt Sheller

Ohana Ukuleles Manufactures

Welcome to Ohana, where you will find the many hand-crafted ukulele models we offer - from soprano to baritone, mahogany to selected koa from the islands of Hawaii, conventional to vintage models, plus unique ones for those who are looking for something different.

At Ohana, our goal is to provide the highest quality product at a reasonable price. Every ukulele that leaves our warehouse is carefully inspected and set up for maximum playability. Yes that’s right — EVERY UKULELE, regardless of model and price. Should you compromise on quality just because you need an entry-level ukulele? We don’t think you should.

Kala Brand Music Company Manufactures

Mike Upton is the founder of Kala Brand Music Co. in northern California. Established in 2005, Kala builds 140-plus models of ukulele, including travel and bass variations.Kala and Makala brand of ukuleles.

Amahi Ukuleles Manufactures

A new line of ukuleles from an establish fine instrument company.

Manufacturer/Distributor of High-Quality Ukuleles including Amahi and Snail Ukuleles. Over 40 models available with exotic woods and unique designs.

Teton Guitars Luthiers

We build guitars focused on tone, quality and playability rather than margin and profit. We put audio principals before business practices. Teton Guitars® are produced by Chesbro Music Co., a 100 year old family owned and operated company in Idaho Falls. We’ve crafted instruments that sound and play like guitars that cost 10 times as much. Tetons are only sold to independent local stores. Visit your local music store and try one out, then look at the price. We double dog dare you to not be impressed. No dogs were harmed in the dare.

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Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books!Peter Rhee

Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the bestGlen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys

Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too.Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg

I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent.fatveg — Portland

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Original Curtie Animation from 1987 for my first web site on a Macintosh II, 37 years ago. Man, does time fly.

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