Here are some pictures of this year's People's Choice Award and Artisan's Choice Award winning ukulele presented at the 4th annual Big Island Guild Ukulele show in Kainaliu, Hawaii.
4-String Tenor Ukulele
"The Three Mermaids"
This all koa ukulele was challenging yet immensely satisfying to build. Living so close to nature in this beautiful Hawaiian environment was naturally very influential in my choice of whimsical designs depicting two mermaids frolicking in the sea and one dreamingly relaxing in a banana moon. I use AAA Big Island curly koa for the body and ebony elsewhere including the fretboard and headstock veneer. Paua abalone is use unashamedly throughout, adorning the entire front and back of the instrument. The seahorse on the end graft was an afterthought that occurred to me only after I sprayed the first couple of coats of lacquer. The mermaids are made up of composite stone and 10,000 year old fossil mammoth ivory. After the ukulele was finish sanded, I scrimshawed the details in the bodies, remembering the art form I was involved in years ago. Other inlay materials include gold mother of pearl, abalone shell and fossil walrus ivory.
This instrument is sold.
(Many more ukes on my GALLERY pages)
Matt Dahlberg's NSB Tenor Ukulele
with AAAA koa upgrade, side sound port and MiSi pickup installed. SOLD
My wait list is full at the moment and I am not taking any new orders.
Occasionally I will build instruments that are not pre sold and I will post them here.
Enjoy the pictures you'll find here on these pages but please do not copy any of my designs or images in any manner without my permission. Mahalo!
Honu Tenor with Side Sound Port
This unique combination of woods features "bear claw" Sitka spruce combined with milo, macadamia nut & curly koa. It is bright and responsive with good volume. Bear claw (so called because it looks like bears have scratched the trunk of the tree) is actually figure in the grain pattern. Just like the curl in koa, bear claw figure is rare in spruce and is found only in a small number of the trees harvested. It is highly sought after for it's stiffness and excellent tonal properties. Milo, (a relative of hibiscus), used to flourish along the beaches in Hawaii until development eliminated most of the trees. The wood has become increasingly short in supply and has become more scarce than koa lately. This particular set of milo is the result of a windfall from Hurrican Iniki that hit Kauai in 1992. Both of these unique woods are beautifully off set by the curly koa binding around the body, fret board and slotted head stock. Curly koa is also used for the rosette. I've chosen macadamia nut wood for fret board and head plate to compliment therse unique woods. The neck is Spanish cedar with carbon fiber reinforcement. I've installed a bound side sound port in the upper bout which adds a bit more volume for the player. Perhaps the most unique feature is the off-set sound hole. By locating the sound hole high on the upper bout I am able to arrange the bracing to allow for a larger resonation surface. Gold mother of pearl top and side fret markers. Bone nut & saddle, Grover Sta-Tite tuners, Worth low G strings. Glossy nitrocellulose lacquer finish.
With hard shell case. Shipping within the USA only.
Milo & Bear Claw Spruce Slotted Tenor
With just one look there is no mistaking that this is a Hawaiian ukulele! It was especially fun for me to incorporate the "honu"inlay on the "tapa" inspired background, both of which are significant in Pacific Island cultures. The fine red & black prufling nicely contrasts with the curly koa binding that I've used throught the uke. The side sound port acts as a personal monitor allowing for a bit more player feedback. The Spanish cedar neck is reinforced with a carbon fiber rod for added stability and better tonal response.
This is a well balanced instrument that has great volume and is an easy, comfortable player.
Comes with hard shell case. Shipping with the USA only.
I have nothing for sale at this time. The following ukes have recently been sold.
This simply elegant ukulele features my most popular options; a slotted head stock and side sound port and bound fret board. Beautiful 5A master grade koa combined with ebony and olive green purflings. The neck is Spanish cedar with carbon fiber reinforcement. Bone nut & saddle, Grover Sta-Tite tuners, Worth low G strings. Glossy nitrocellulose lacquer finish. This ukulele has exceptional volume and clarity and is an easy player.
Comes with hard shell case. Shipping via USPS Express mail to US destinations is approximately $100.
The Lily Pond
This fantasy uke was inspired by the pond we have next to the shop. It's filled with white and pink lotus blossoms and attracts a lot of dragonflies. I only ever seem to get a fleeting glimpse of the fairies, so that depiction is largely from my imagination. This particular fairy was made of 40,000 year old mastodon ivory in which I've scrimshawed the details. This is truly a magical ukulele with an exceptional sound.
This uke is currently available through Hawaii Music Supply. Please contact them for purchasing details.
This uke is a bit of a departure for me, combining Macassar ebony with bearclaw spruce. While you might agree that it's gorgeous to look at, what really surprised me was the tone. It's bright and punchy yet full at the same time. The wild orchid inlays, even though they are different colors, were made from the same piece of fossil mammoth ivory (40,000 years old.) The curly koa accents add to the stunning statement that this uke is, both as an excellent player and object d'art.
This ukulele is SOLD.
Prices & Availability
I operate a small one man shop in rural Hawaii, run entirely on solar electricity. It’s not always fun or easy but it’s the only option I have given my remote location. I make all of the wood elements that go into my ukuleles and every step of every process is done by my hands alone. I have no apprentices nor do I farm out any of my work, a practice that is so common in many luthier shops today.
Because of the diversity of my work, it is difficult to quote exact prices. I can have as few as 40 hours or more than 150 hours into each uke I build (the average is 60 hours.) Rather than trying to provide you with a Chinese take-out menu of options I will attempt to simplify things with this rough guide line. I no longer have a standard (NSB) model; each uke is unique as I combine different elements suited for that particular instrument.
Base prices for my ukuleles are as follows: Tenor: $3600, Concert: $3400, Soprano: $3000. That’s where we start. The base price includes bindings & purflings on body, neck and headstock, rosette, bound sound holes, bone nut & saddle, choice of premium tuners, glossy nitro cellulose finish and hard shell case. Popular options are slotted headstock ($200), side sound ports ($150), cutaways ($300), paua abalone purflings ($300), pickups ($200) and inlays. Premium wood upgrades are also available, ranging from $100 to $300 when available. Inlays and other decorative elements can be as time consuming (or more) than building the uke itself and can drive prices over $10,000.
At the current time I am not accepting any new custom orders as I focus on expressing some of my own ideas with my work. These and other non-commissioned ukes will be posted here when they become available.