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Pete Howlett
08-27-2014, 11:22 AM
I'm applying for a Churchill Travel Bursary. My intention is to visit Hawaii factories and individual makers to try and get some context for what I am doing here in the UK. I am 20 years building now and still have no real peers here in the UK who I can talk to with any authentic back story. This is not a 'jolly'; it's an honest attempt to get funding for some serious research which I can disseminate to the builders here in the UK and Europe.

Application is a 2 stage process and I am currently at stage 1, putting into 500 words why they should consider me for VIVA interview. So I need help.

If you were a maker or thinking of becoming a maker, what would be the burning questions you would ask me?
How important is the Hawaiian context these days given that koa resources are dwindling and other wood combinations are becoming more acceptable?
What is the 'modern' player looking for?
What is the modern builder trying to achieve?
Who should I visit/who would like me to visit in Hawaii?

Answers on a postcard or here...

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
08-27-2014, 02:03 PM
I'd visit you visiting Hawaii :)- Id even buy you a lager old son!- Id love to met Ken Timms too

hawaii 50
08-27-2014, 02:19 PM
You should visit Ko'olau Ukulele and Guitars on Oahu....

between Noa Bonk the main builder of the Ko'olau's(and Ryan who does all the archtops and finishing) along with John Kitakis who is Pono Ukulele and Guitars and was a Maritin guitar authorized repair person for many years..
I say that Noa is one of the best younger builders in the Ukulele World....even though Noa has lots of years as a luthier he is still only in his late 30's or maybe early 40's....they are all under the same roof in Wahiawa and John is Noa's dad...

and of course the best of all is Chuck Moore,if you are visiting the Big Island...
I like the Kanile'a factory tour(in Kaneohe)...sometimes Joe will give you the tour himself....but all the others are good too(Kamaka and Ko'Aloha)...

also there is one builder in Kailua who is worth a mention too...Rollo Schurenbrand(www.koaguitars.com) in Kailua he builds very few Ukuleles and Guitars but one of the best too.....

have fun on your trip...maybe we will cross paths....

btw check in with The Ukulele Guild of Hawaii....they have meetings quite often

http://www.ukuleleguild.org/

kkimura
08-28-2014, 03:59 AM
I'm not a builder so my comment is more of a general nature than a technical one. You may want to consider the differences between the "Hawaiian" music style versus the "Mainland" music style and how the difference in musicality affects Ukulele design.

SteveZ
08-28-2014, 04:36 AM
The research concept sounds fine, but is limited to one locale and potentially one regionally-centric viewpoint. A logical thing would seem to be to: 1) gather knowledge/contacts/etc. in Hawaii as the ukukele epicenter; then 2) visit a couple builders not in Hawaii but similar to your business model to see how they apply the same/similar data. So, while the Hawaii data collection makes sense, a stop at a couple non-HI sites like Loprinzi (Clearwater, FL) and Black Bear (Yakima, WA) to see how the data is applied/adapted/expanded would round out the research, provide a practical application beyond HI-regionalization to show downstream business potenial, and establish like-model peer relationships.

How's that?

ericchico
08-28-2014, 04:49 AM
As a want to be builder I would like to know your thoughts on the internet and how it has changed how you build? Are there more bad techniques being put on the internet than good? It seems 20+ years ago building instruments was kind of a mystery and to do it you had to do an apprenticeship to learn skills. Now you can You Tube almost anything or by an online course. Is the internet helping you be a better builder by showing a wider range of techniques? Or is it discouraging to see all the tricks of the trade posted online?

Hope this helps. These are questions I would ask any builder, that has been at it as long as you, while we were sitting down at a table drinking a pint. Good luck Pete

hawaii 50
08-28-2014, 07:11 AM
The research concept sounds fine, but is limited to one locale and potentially one regionally-centric viewpoint. A logical thing would seem to be to: 1) gather knowledge/contacts/etc. in Hawaii as the ukukele epicenter; then 2) visit a couple builders not in Hawaii but similar to your business model to see how they apply the same/similar data. So, while the Hawaii data collection makes sense, a stop at a couple non-HI sites like Loprinzi (Clearwater, FL) and Black Bear (Yakima, WA) to see how the data is applied/adapted/expanded would round out the research, provide a practical application beyond HI-regionalization to show downstream business potenial, and establish like-model peer relationships.

How's that?

Having never met Blackbear and LoPrenzi hard to comment on their build styles and knowledge of the uke...
but in the mainland as Pete already knowns...I think, a visit with Rick Turner in Santa Cruz would be a way to go...so much knowledge in building guitars and ukes....

in Hawaii you can learn about the history of the uke(on the Kamaka Tour) and all over the Islands...but if just looking for tips on building i am sure Rick would be the one to speak to on the mainland

my 2 cents

Red Cliff
08-28-2014, 09:27 AM
For what it is worth, if I put an academic hat on rather than a 'Uke builder who wouldn't mind going to Hawaii himself' I am kind of with Hawaii 50 on this one. Normally with research you look to frame the research question which in this case seems to be your 1 to 5 list, you then look at what methods will answer that question - which may or may not be answered by going to Hawaii - depending on what new builders, players want.

Were as it kind of looks like you are starting with the methods (going to Hawaii) and then saying 'what questions might I be able to answer from that trip?'. Could still be really useful - but if the aim is actually to be of greatest benefit to uke builders in the UK - then Hawaii may not be the answer - might be better off going some place else, who knows.

Of course if I were you, I'd go to Hawaii as well.:cool:

Pete Howlett
08-28-2014, 09:53 AM
Thanks for the replies - just to clarify: A Churchill Scholarship may be awarded to an established craftsman or other professional in their field to allow them to enrich further his understanding of what they do through travel. You are required to publish your findings.

Ii think after 20 years I know my craft. What I want is context and meaning. I also only want to meet ukulele makers - guitar makers have no interest for me and despite my high regard for Rick, he is a guitar maker who has a keen interest in ukuleles, bringing to bear lots of guitar technology into his ukulele making - not a bad idea; just something I have no interest in.

And 'Nongdam' - try getting a work Visa for Hawaii - impossible if you are British, less than that if you want to be a ukulele maker and don't have a couple of million bucks to invest in the country....

Doc_J
08-28-2014, 05:00 PM
Do you think a visit to the University of Hawaii to talk to Jim Tranquada about Ukulele Building History would be beneficial?

katysax
08-28-2014, 05:11 PM
You should visit Hawaii Music Supply and other big vendors to get their input on what they see from musicians and customers. You should visit Led Ka'apana (who is a very accessible guy). Led might be a guitar player but he is an amazing Hawaiian musician and a great ukulele player also. I think he's got quite a collection too. You should visit Sean Yacavone; I think he's pretty connected to the international market. You should visit David Hurd who doesn't make ukes anymore but was a great builder before he quit. Of course, you should visit Chuck Moore.

You should also visit Los Angeles - so that I can get to meet you and buy you dinner. Don't think that will help you get the grant though.

Pete Howlett
08-28-2014, 07:53 PM
Great advice DocJ - in fact, I have had a sleep on it and may change the remit and take me to the mainland to visit builders there... as you know, I am not especially fixed in my purpose and can be persuaded to change if change is beneficial to me. I let you know