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katysax
10-12-2014, 09:32 AM
HMS is selling Iiwi ukuleles. I see they have been around a while - the luthier is someone named Charles Fukuba.

I've never seen these discussed in this forum and a search turns up nothing. I do see that at least once, one showed up in the marketplace. They seem to be high quality Hawaiian ukes.

Does anyone have one? Anyone played one? I'm just curious, there is such a long line for ukes from Chuck Moore and Ko'Olau and Mya Moe and more. Looks like HMS has a few of the Iiwi. Is there some reason the Iiwi is not as popular?

GinnyT11
10-12-2014, 09:40 AM
Hi Katy, Miss MB player. :)

My husband has a basic-level I'iwi concert that we bought in Hawaii in May 2011. We were on the hunt for a different sort of Hawaiian concert uke, and it's one that will never be sold from our collection.
I'm sure he'll stop by here soon to tell you his opinion after three years, but here's his initial review of it: http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?49920-I-iwi-Concert

BTW, I absolutely love it. He plays it mostly, but I always enjoy playing it.

pinkuke
10-12-2014, 09:43 AM
I have a concert sized Gold series I'iwi. It is high quality, beautifully made and sounds wonderful. Has good sustain. It's not my favorite uke to play, that distinction belongs to my Kamaka Ohta-san. But it is very nice.

hawaii 50
10-12-2014, 09:45 AM
Very nice ukes built on Oahu....most of his ukes go to Japan...but the Tenor that is there now (his most deluxe model) one of the better sounding ones....
deep rich tones....and nice fit and finish.....he does the finish in Tru-oil so not as shiny as others...

they are worth the money...IMO....:)

CTurner
10-12-2014, 11:11 AM
Ginny gave you the link to my initial review of my I'iwi concert. It is a lovely uke: the voice is sweet and light, though sustain is excellent and it is a rich sound and not "thin". Tru-oil, yes, gives it a luxurious look, I think. Distinctive shape. It is super easy to play, came setup just right for me. Light in weight, well balanced in the hand. My wife is right: I'm not selling it, partly because we found it together in Hawaii and partly because it is a unique concert. My model is at the lower end of his models, I think, and some of what he does is more fancy (inlay) than I usually prefer. hawaii 50 is right: these are worth the money.

dkcrown
10-12-2014, 11:29 AM
nongdam used to have one and might still have it. I'm sure that Daniel will chime in here.

Kekani
10-12-2014, 11:49 AM
I met Charlie at last year's UGH Exhibition & Conference at the Princess Kaiulani. This year it'll be at the Outrigger Main. I know most of the buyers here don't have access directly to builders, and there's one aspect that cannot be measured other than their product, and that is the person.

While the product may be talked about and waited for, and the builder may be, of all things, respected, if I have nothing nice to say about him, I usually say nothing. Although I cringe when members glorify his ability (which he no doubt has), but have no idea of what is inside and what values he holds. I'm not perfect, but I'm not intentionally malicious in how I do business, and I don't take shots at fellow builders' business. Of course, fortunately, there's only one builder, in my opinion, that falls into this category, and he doesn't post here.

By the way, Charlie is NOT that builder in the paragraph above. He is definitely on the opposite end. I'll say it as simply as possible, he is a nice guy. Think about that statement, and realize there are not too many left like him. We had a good conversation last year, and we found out we live within a mile or so of each other. If for no other reason, his personality and values would be enough for me. Add on a long line of instruments and experience, just because he's not well known doesn't mean he shouldn't be. He does good stuff.

Dan Uke
10-12-2014, 02:09 PM
Aaron, I'm glad you mention that as there's that book that Chuck referred last time and paraphrasing, you wanna build a better guitar, be a better person. We don't know most builders but I wouldn't buy a uke from some luthiers because of their interaction on this site.

I own a 2002 I'iwi and I was playing with it today as it's with my brother. He wants me to string it so I'm taking it home. I believe most ukes are great depending on price...ie a Kala tenor tenor is great for a few hundred but not worth it if the price was a thousand. With that said, I got a great deal for a used one with 2 cracks on the soundboard. However, if I had to pay several thousand plus, I wouldn't buy it as there's lots of ukes in that price range. Secondly, I'm not a big fan of tru oil unless it's a cheaper custom uke. A one man shop will always command a higher price but again, ukes are elastic and competition is stiff. Just my opinion so take it with a grain of salt as all have difft tastes.

I'll add a sound sample later tonite as I'm waiting for my ramen dinner.

Kekani
10-12-2014, 02:46 PM
We don't know most builders but I wouldn't buy a uke from some luthiers because of their interaction on this site.

I try to stay in the Lounge for the most part, and just read Uke Talk for kicks, and post even less. Or I try to anyway. If you're not a builder and read posts in the Lounge, I can certainly understand your comments. Personally, I've been called an "old fart" in a negative way, and I've had shots taken at me for posting my experiences because its not "facts". That's okay. The Lounge is a different animal. Very real there, no BS. If you don't like it (not you, just a general statement), stay away. Yes, it gets heated in there. I love it. But I've not seen any intentional malice from builders, especially the senior ones.

If I'm not on your "no buy" list, I'm sure I'm on someone else's because I'm sure I've offended someone with my old fart posts, high vs low end, etc. I work hard, and clean at what I do. And I'm sure most of the builders in the Lounge do as well. Sometimes, we just don't beat around the bush to be PC.

Charlie Fukuba, probably as clean as it gets. In my opinion. I like the guy because he's given me a reason to. Of course, I could say that about all (except one) of the builder's I've met personally, and some that I haven't.

AndrewKuker
10-12-2014, 07:17 PM
I own a 2002 I'iwi and I was playing with it today as it's with my brother. He wants me to string it so I'm taking it home. I believe most ukes are great depending on price...ie a Kala tenor tenor is great for a few hundred but not worth it if the price was a thousand. With that said, I got a great deal for a used one with 2 cracks on the soundboard. However, if I had to pay several thousand plus, I wouldn't buy it as there's lots of ukes in that price range. Secondly, I'm not a big fan of tru oil unless it's a cheaper custom uke. A one man shop will always command a higher price but again, ukes are elastic and competition is stiff. Just my opinion so take it with a grain of salt as all have difft tastes.

The last I'iwi we just received I got to compare with the 4 LFDM's we had, and while it has a different voice, it has equal volume and body, which is saying a lot. (LFDM's have plenty of that) Does your I'iwi that you bought used with repaired cracks on the top have that sonic quality when compared to your LFDM's? No? Oh, I wonder why. Maybe because it had repaired cracks on the top? Maybe it was a less evolved version of his build style? etc.... Look folks, we're not reviewing electronics here. Each custom build is a unique effort and judging an older version of someones work that was mistreated and repaired (who knows how) is not worth the insult it inevitably gives the builder and the influence it inevitably gives people that actually believe the things posted here as worth while information. I'm not speaking from a sales stand point. I couldn't care less about that when it comes to UU conversation. I am just commenting here because Charles is a friend. Our kids go to the same school. He's a pro lap steel player and he's an excellent ukulele maker. Share opinions all you want, even if it requires a grain of salt. But that comment should just be drowned in shoyu because it's not even worth serving.
You want to be real. I'm being real. I still love you Daniel, but don't say what's worth what unless you have some real experience.

katysax
10-12-2014, 08:17 PM
I have seen the Iiwi on the HMS website and was just curious, not at all looking to buy one. However, I did learn something from this thread. If I were to spend $2500 plus on the uke I'd want a gloss finish and the Iiwi uses tru-oil.

Kekani
10-12-2014, 11:19 PM
Just some clarification, as oftentimes (admittedly, not just sometimes) I post in ways that you have to actually read.

Katysax's original post asks about Charlie Fukuba, whom it seems at this point is relatively unknown, here. His build quality can be seen, and probably even heard; my intent was to share another side that a lot of us here don't see, and that is the person behind the build. Besides that fact that he is a known builder here, I just merely wanted to add that he is one of the good guys, and you can tell he builds from his heart, and I myself was glad to finally meet him in person.

I apologize if it seemed that I was warning anyone to shy away from him. Quite the opposite - consider his builds, by all means.


I have seen the Iiwi on the HMS website and was just curious, not at all looking to buy one. However, I did learn something from this thread. If I were to spend $2500 plus on the uke I'd want a gloss finish and the Iiwi uses tru-oil.

I would've never gotten that from this thread. Personally, I wish I could finish in Tru-Oil. Did it once on an early instrument, and settled into spraying after that.

katysax
10-13-2014, 05:45 AM
This is really a small thing but what I got from the thread is that the Iiwi are finished in tru-oil. My personal preference is for a gloss finish. I'd have a hard time spending high $$$ for a uke even though I do have ukes that are polished and not gloss.

I was really just curious why this was a name that hasn't appeared much on UU.

slackkey007
10-13-2014, 11:55 AM
The last I'iwi we just received I got to compare with the 4 LFDM's we had, and while it has a different voice, it has equal volume and body, which is saying a lot. (LFDM's have plenty of that) Does your I'iwi that you bought used with repaired cracks on the top have that sonic quality when compared to your LFDM's? No? Oh, I wonder why. Maybe because it had repaired cracks on the top? Maybe it was a less evolved version of his build style? etc.... Look folks, we're not reviewing electronics here. Each custom build is a unique effort and judging an older version of someones work that was mistreated and repaired (who knows how) is not worth the insult it inevitably gives the builder and the influence it inevitably gives people that actually believe the things posted here as worth while information. I'm not speaking from a sales stand point. I couldn't care less about that when it comes to UU conversation. I am just commenting here because Charles is a friend. Our kids go to the same school. He's a pro lap steel player and he's an excellent ukulele maker. Share opinions all you want, even if it requires a grain of salt. But that comment should just be drowned in shoyu because it's not even worth serving.
You want to be real. I'm being real. I still love you Daniel, but don't say what's worth what unless you have some real experience.


Exactly dis bruddah Andrew! Bruddah Daniel can be one trouble maker fo shua ... don't know eef he trying fo be funny o wat ... wat I think ees dat he no think befo he responds to Threads an da consequences of wat he says. I think could be some arrogance on his end cause he get da financial resources fo buy plenny high end ukes which makes him think he knows his stuff about ukes ... but guess wat bruddah Daniel? NOT EVEN CLOSE, BRAH! You only been playing da uke jus a few years now. How you think you get major kine experience wit ukes beats me? Wit bruddah Andrew's extensive experience, (I not jus talking about uke sales) I consider bruddah Andrew's perspective ovah guys like you ANYTIME!!!

hawaii 50
10-13-2014, 12:06 PM
Exactly dis bruddah Andrew! Bruddah Daniel can be one trouble maker fo shua ... don't know eef he trying fo be funny o wat ... wat I think ees dat he no think befo he responds to Threads an da consequences of wat he says. I think could be some arrogance on his end cause he get da financial resources fo buy plenny high end ukes which makes him think he knows his stuff about ukes ... but guess wat bruddah Daniel? NOT EVEN CLOSE, BRAH! You only been playing da uke jus a few years now. How you think you get major kine experience wit ukes beats me? Wit bruddah Andrew's extensive experience, (I not jus talking about uke sales) I consider bruddah Andrew's perspective ovah guys like you ANYTIME!!!

Haha,brother Slack..

Daniel not as bad as he seems..i met him and know him(had lunch with him and Stan a while ago)....different in person...he has strong feelings on how much a uke is worth....he could be right or could be wrong....Andrew knows him too...he loves the uke like many of us...but at the end of the day it is only a uke....not life and death...:)

he did delete his last thread,which was kind of crazy but like I say he is a nice guy in person...let um slide....:) give him some Aloha since you both might live close to each other.....

Dan Uke
10-13-2014, 12:20 PM
Exactly dis bruddah Andrew! Bruddah Daniel can be one trouble maker fo shua ... don't know eef he trying fo be funny o wat ... wat I think ees dat he no think befo he responds to Threads an da consequences of wat he says. I think could be some arrogance on his end cause he get da financial resources fo buy plenny high end ukes which makes him think he knows his stuff about ukes ... but guess wat bruddah Daniel? NOT EVEN CLOSE, BRAH! You only been playing da uke jus a few years now. How you think you get major kine experience wit ukes beats me? Wit bruddah Andrew's extensive experience, (I not jus talking about uke sales) I consider bruddah Andrew's perspective ovah guys like you ANYTIME!!!

Slackkey, you 100% right. I would trust Andrew over anyone on these forums. I know what I like and whether it's right or wrong, I should think of how people take it. Thanks for pointing it out. However, whether I play all my life or for 3 years, I enjoy it just like many here.

Thanks Len and Andrew

tangimango
10-13-2014, 04:34 PM
From personal experience. I like the iiwi ukulele, because its known for a deep warm mellow sound. Basically the opposite of a bright sounding koaloha. So if your looking for a really warm deep tone soothing sound the iiwi is it. I love the shape and design of the multiple sound hole.placement. I like tru oil. Even mya moe uses it. Safe to apply , non toxic, done right you can get a mirror gloss finish.

Nickie
10-13-2014, 05:03 PM
mmSTAN tell us about yours....you DO have one don't you? LOL

mm stan
10-13-2014, 06:16 PM
mmSTAN tell us about yours....you DO have one don't you? LOL
I dont have nothing Nickie....but I played the new and old... :)

AndrewKuker
10-13-2014, 07:48 PM
I don't think Daniel was trying to make trouble. He's got a good heart. He also has a desire to keep this forum "real" and I think that's cool, but at the same time if your only experience with a brand was a used one that had cracks, then hold back your judgement, publicly and privately. Even personally.

If someone bought a 5 year old Moore Bettah with cracks in the top and based on that instrument made a comment on this forum that they didn't think MB's were as good as people made like they were, I would be offended and others here would be too. Same with Aaron Oya or Beau Hannam etc. Well just because a builder doesn't participate here doesn't mean they should be treated any differently.

That's all. No big deal. Negative comments are fine. But just be fair. When people research a brand and read negative things they take it seriously, whether it's an experienced opinion or not, which is a joke but it's human nature. Anyway ,I'm not mad and I hope everyone understood where I'm coming from and why I spoke up about it.

Nickie
10-14-2014, 10:03 AM
I dont have nothing Nickie....but I played the new and old... :)

Stan, you kill me....LMAO

mm stan
10-14-2014, 11:47 AM
I don't think Daniel was trying to make trouble. He's got a good heart. He also has a desire to keep this forum "real" and I think that's cool, but at the same time if your only experience with a brand was a used one that had cracks, then hold back your judgement, publicly and privately. Even personally.

If someone bought a 5 year old Moore Bettah with cracks in the top and based on that instrument made a comment on this forum that they didn't think MB's were as good as people made like they were, I would be offended and others here would be too. Same with Aaron Oya or Beau Hannam etc. Well just because a builder doesn't participate here doesn't mean they should be treated any differently.



That's all. No big deal. Negative comments are fine. But just be fair. When people research a brand and read negative things they take it seriously, whether it's an experienced opinion or not, which is a joke but it's human nature. Anyway ,I'm not mad and I hope everyone understood where I'm coming from and why I spoke up about it.

Aloha Andrew,
You are awesome bruddah...For This ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ :)

Jon Bennett
10-12-2015, 07:50 AM
I have a I'iwi tenor custom ukulele. It's a real beauty, faultless in the making and finish. And the sound? Very warm, lots of resonance. I have a low G on it, but may need to change this from a a wire-wound to a plain because the resonance is too much and the bass is a little overpowering. But that's easily dealt with.

It was expensive, be warned! But heck, no more so than a medium priced guitar, and it's very much a collector's item. It's very light, and the webbed Koa is beautiful. I'll be issuing some additional instruction videos on my website at www.ukuleleoxford.com featuring this instrument. Meanwhile, have a look at what's already there.

Jon Bennett

hawaii 50
10-12-2015, 08:01 AM
I have a I'iwi tenor custom ukulele. It's a real beauty, faultless in the making and finish. And the sound? Very warm, lots of resonance. I have a low G on it, but may need to change this from a a wire-wound to a plain because the resonance is too much and the bass is a little overpowering. But that's easily dealt with.

It was expensive, be warned! But heck, no more so than a medium priced guitar, and it's very much a collector's item. It's very light, and the webbed Koa is beautiful. I'll be issuing some additional instruction videos on my website at www.ukuleleoxford.com featuring this instrument. Meanwhile, have a look at what's already there.

Jon Bennett

yes the I'iwi are one of the better sounding Hawaiian made customs around...deep/rich tone and fit and finish very nice.....try a wound C string(maybe Southcoast HML-RW) it should help the overall tone/sound more balanced...imo

Nickie
10-12-2015, 03:05 PM
I may be mistaken but I think Mim is a dealer for Iiwi....

hawaii 50
10-12-2015, 06:11 PM
I may be mistaken but I think Mim is a dealer for Iiwi....

did not realize how old this thread was.....
here is one of the new I'iwi ukes from his last last batch ....there were 4 but 3 gone already....

http://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/brand/i-iwi/i-iwi-spruce-koa-tenor-6-15-oahu-oasis.html

UkeInTW
10-13-2015, 05:07 AM
I give a big thumbs up for I'iwi ukes. After listening to it online at HMS and loving the sound, I bought a redwood / mahagony tenor from HMS earlier this year. I really love it. Met Corey Fujimoto one time and he played it a bit and he made a comment that it sounded almost like a guitar. This is with wound Low G string, so does give it a real warm full tone. And it is pretty loud. The tone, feel and playability are what really make me a big fan of I'iwi ukes.

I realize that sound and tone are subjective and some dont want a guitar sound in their uke, but I love a deep full warm tone. But I also enjoy other types of sounds/tones too, which is why I also bought different types of ukes. I will have to try some lighter strings on one I'iwi just to see how it works with other types of strings that give a little different sound.

Yes, some may or may not prefer the oil finish, rather than high gloss, and some may not be used to the different look with the 3 sound hole design, but the unique style grew on me and now I really like the unique look. But, more importantly, like Andrew mentioned, Charles builds first and foremost for tone.

Charles said in his video for HMS, he is trying to make that uke that people keep wanting to pick up, due to the feel and connection you get from the uke. And he said when you get serious about ukes, sooner or later, things that were important before may not be as important and a lot of people start to look for tone and playability first. And these are the people that custom instruments are made for. I do keep picking up his/my I'iwi uke and the tone and playability are what I love most about it.

Charles Interview and concert uke played by Corey - https://vimeo.com/120341571

Here is one of the tenors I bought played by Corey - http://www.theukulelesite.com/i-iwi-redwood-top-custom-hawaiian-mahogany-tenor.html

And probably no better endorsement than going out and buying another. So, in another batch that came in, I really liked the sound of a redwood/macassar ebony tenor and bought a second one. Love it just like the first one. I only wish I could make the uke sound a fraction as nice as Corey Fujimoto. And being able to buy them from HMS is always a big additional plus that helps insure a good experience. So, consider me an I'iwi fan.