Rick performing with the Island Rumours Band at the Grand Wailea Beach Resort in Maui.
Let this be a lesson that mai tais and a steady camera hand are not compatible!
Tenor 4 string built for Bob Kevonian of the nationally syndicated radio "Bob & Tom Show". Bob was a joy to work with on this ukulele as we shared he same love of nostalgic Hawaii. The "Pin-up Hula Girl" inlay is scrimshawed in fossil mastadon ivory and is reminiscent of a World War II bomber painting. The hibiscus flowers are inlayed with composition stone.
and FLAMINGOS !
Lots of flamingos getting a leg up on this exceptional concert ukulele. Gorgeous 5A red hued curly koa compliments the pink accents of this uke. Tenor sized neck for easier playing and more versatility. The use of Peghed tuners are staggered on the head stock so as to not interfere with the inaly.
Simply a stunning ukulele and a fun challenge to build.
I have about 60 hours of inlay work on this left handed tenor cutaway. The curves of the lower bout and around the side sound port presented challenges of their own. Inlay materials include reconstituted chrysacola stone, gold MOP, and paua abalone shell. Peghed tuners work perfectly on an uke like this.
Please note: If you have never been to an art museum before or if you are offended by the occasional representation of (gasp) the female breast, you are advised to view these pages while wearing welding goggles.
Hokule'a tribute uke
This is a tribute ukulele honoring the Hokule'a, a modern-day representation of the ancient Polynesian sailing canoes. It was originally built in 1975 to prove that the Hawaiians just didn't stumble upon their island, which was a common belief at the time, but in reality were expert navigators that learned to use natural elements including the stars, wind, currents and other indicators to travel great distances across the planet.In building this tribute uke I have attempted to capture the most meaningful symbols that highlight the Hokule'a's voyages and mission. The inlay on the soundboard was rendered after a painting by Polynesian Voyaging Society co-founder, Herb Kane, showing the Wa'a (canoe) beating upwind. The fret board, sporting the name of the vessel is surrounded with a field of stars. Upon closer inspection, one can detect the constellations the Northern Cross on the upper end of the fret board and the Big Dipper, whose handle points to Arcturas (aka: Hokule'a in Hawaiian). A ti leaf lei encircles the headstock and embraces our planet Earth, the ti leaf being a symbol of luck, gratitude and thanks. The words "Malama Honua" on the head stock reminds us to care for our Island Earth, a term that is coined by Hokule'a's latest voyage, a voyage that encourages environmental sustainability around the world. This ukulele has the finest tone woods including a Sitka spruce top and the rare and beautiful Hawaiian Milo back and sides. It's framed off with super curly koa that widens into a graceful arm rest making it even more comfortable to hold and enjoy. The sound is also enhanced by the bound side sound port and it's protected with a perfect gloss finish.
100% of the proceeds from the sale of this exquisite ukulele are being donated to the Polynesian Voyaging Society.
Mahalo to Ledward Kaapana for his lovely slack key rendition of "Hokule'a, Star of Gladness".
The Pin-up Girl
The Faery Garden
da Tree mahogany w/ bearclaw spruce
Scrimshawed faux ivory on Black & White Ebony
Every year in the Spring time I try to make time to build one ukulele in honor of the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. The week long festival attracts hula halau from all over the world.
With this ukulele the customer wanted me to feature our volcano, Kilauea, with sleepy, unsuspecting Kalapana lying in the foreground. The last (and current) eruption of Kilauea has lasted for 35 years and has claimed 300 homes in it's path. The lava enters the ocean about 15 miles from where I live. It makes life interesting.
I knew this this extraordinary and rare wood called for a subtle yet powerful inlay. My intention was to let the wood be the star of this show. Through the grain in the wood I saw highlights and shadows only, there was no middle ground so I worked off of the contrasts. I think the end result is lovely, with each element complimenting the other.
ULU (aka: Breadfruit)
This is the first uke I've every built with ulu wood but I had a hunch it would work well since it was very stiff and extremely light. My expectations were surpassed after I strung it up. What a full, dynamic tone she has. I wish I had a truck load of it but it is rare indeed. Paired with the dense and relatively heavy Macassar ebony it is a winning combination.
This one one of our ulu trees growing about 15' from my shop door. You rarely see ulu wood for sale because the tree doesn't grow that large and it is too valuable of a food source to cut down. Breadfruit was one of the "canoe foods" carried by the early voyaging Polynesians. And for good reason. Not only is the fruit delicious (somewhat like a potato), but the sap was used as glue in canoe building and the bark could be pounded and made into clothing (tapa.)
Bamboo, a study in black & white
I used the leftover scraps from the body for the inlay one this uke. My intention was to keep it monochromatic and as subtle as I could as if the bamboo was growing from the fret board.
One of my all time favorites. I made the inlay material for water in order to simulate the mermaid's tail being submerged. This challenge casued me several weeks of disturbed sleep.