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thejumpingflea
01-18-2010, 06:46 PM
NAMM 2010

Wow, what a show and experience. I'd like to thank Drew and the guys at Lanikai for allowing me to attend and have this opportunity. Check them out at www.lanikaiukes.com

I met so many incredible people at the NAMM show, it was a truly unreal thing. I got to jam with some of my uke idols, (Aldrine and Ken, that jam was too much fun!) meet many people in the business and see the newest products of all the companies. I'll start off by talking about each booth I got to see.

Lanikai-

This is (obviously) where I spent most of my time. Lanikai has some great budget ukes and the new Zebrawood and Monkeypod ukes sound and play great. The new Fishman pickup sounds really great with a compressor. The Banjolele may be a bit pricey, but it hands down the best Banjolele I have played.

Blackbird-

The first booth I ended up going too, I got to try out the new Carbon Fiber uke. I was very impressed with it and couldn't believe how rich the tone was despite it being COMPLETELY weather resistant. It had a full tone with great lows and mids. It was very clear both strummed and picked and had a Banjo like, drum sound when finger picked. (Very subtle, and kept good sustain as well) I most definitely want to buy one for travel. They folks over there were nothing but helpful and they got a video of me playing the instrument.

Nalu Ukulele-

Wow. I cannot believe these ukes are imports! The instruments that the folks at Nalu put out are truly something else. The playability of the instruments are top notch and the sound is closer to a Hawaiian factory uke than an import. Gary, Rick and Mark are some of the coolest guys I have met and they take great pride in their instruments. I am not the biggest fan of their fancy headstocks and soundholes, but I really think their sound is the best bang for your buck in the ukulele world.

Middle East-

These were very unique instruments. From lute to Balalaika shaped ukuleles, they had some new things that I have not seen before. Their sound was very mellow and almost lute like making it great to fingerpick. I think I'll be buying one or two of them…. ;)

Big Island Ukulele-

Some great ukes were at this booth. The new Mahogany series was wonderful. Jorma was nothing but a great guy and really wanted to hear any and all criticism and critique for his instruments. He got a video of me playing his new Mahogany uke with Fishman electronics (seen here: ) As far as imports go, you wont see a prettier uke. Some wonderful inlays on many of the ukes that really focus on the "Honu" turtle. I am not the biggest fan of the flash, but I can definitely respect and admire it. The simple Mahogany series were some of my favorite ukes to play at the show.

Kamaka-

It was so great to meet the guys at Kamaka. What a wonderful business. I talked with them about pickups, wood selections, new models, and various other things for a long while. I even got to play Brian Tolentino's custom Spruce top Kamaka which was an incredible instrument. It makes me proud to own a Kamaka after meeting them.

Ko'olau-

Lots of beautiful instruments here. The new Pono line plays great and looks great. Their slotted headstock models are wonderful. (I especially like the Spruce / Maple concert I got to play)

Ohana-

Resonator! Ken over at Ohana allowed me to play an absolutely stunning resonator ukulele that was hands down the best resonator I have played. Full and rich tone. Ohana had lots of great solid wood, affordable instruments.

Magic Fluke Company-

Jim Beloff and Dale Webb are two class acts. I spoke with each of them for a bit, but really discussed the Fluke and where it is going with Dale for a while. They are now introducing the Peghed Tuners as an option for their products. These tuners are geared tuners within the peg and really work perfectly with the Fluke and Flea. I'll be getting a set to install in my Fluke. Dale also was telling me about a new Solid Body Electric Fluke! That should be awesome and I can't wait to see and hear them.

Kala-

Every positive comment you have heard about Mike Upton is true. Kala has some great affordable products and the U-Bass was one of the most innovative and coolest things I have ever heard. The Kala booth also had some great musicians which were a lot of fun to speak with and talk uke playing and techniques.

Eleuke-

I didn't get to spend much time at the eleuke booth, but I did see some new Cigar box and other uniquely shaped ukes.

SpiderCapo-

This company allowed me to try their new "alternate tuning capo" and has offered me an endorsement to their products. I'll be posting a video when I get the chance.

I also met countless people.

Ken Middleton - Too cool to meet, jam and even dine with Ken. A truly good person with a passion for the uke. If you haven't checked out his youtube, you certainly should. He has a great touch for the uke and puts out some truly original music.

Aldrine Guerrero - This dude is awesome. A complete nutcase with some weird addictions and a obsession with coasters. One of my all time uke idols and one the greatest players I have met. To have jammed with him was too cool. To have eaten with him was well… interesting. ;)

Jason Arimato (FaceMeltingUkulele) - When Jason came to my booth I couldn't believe he knew who I was right away! Some of the best blues uke you'll ever hear and he has been a major influence in my playing. I talked with him for a while about music and recording and all sorts of stuff.

MusicGuyMic- Mike stopped by the booth to take some videos. What a riot. MGM is a truly happy guy and oozes aloha. Makes me happy to have spent all the money I have on his store.

Mike DaSilva - Boy, can he build a uke! I was so fortunate to meet Mike and talk with him. He is a great guy and I would love to someday purchase a uke from him. I played one of his instruments and was blown away. It was so light, yet so full of a tone and the instrument itself weighed practically nothing.

Ukulele Bartt - Did more jamming than talking! We got together at the Eleuke booth and jammed on some blues and a nice minor lick. Too much fun. He is an incredible player with a great knowledge of the instrument.

Ronnie Aloha - Thanks for the hawaiian shirt! Video to come once my hand is back to normal….

Derick Sebastion, Abe Lagrimas, Craig Brandau, Rick, I literally met too many to name here… Sorry if I missed you!!


The whole NAMM show was so much to soak in. I hope to be there again next year!!

gobes
01-18-2010, 07:09 PM
Thanks for the write up. I got to meet Mike Dasilva too and he let me play his ukulele. What a beautiful instrument.
I wanted to check out the Lanikai booth but I couldn't find it and, at the time, I didn't know to look for Hohner in the directory. In addition, I was worn out just from checking out hall E (getting around on crutches is a chore).

One question for you... why don't you give you impressions about the Lanikai ukes?

thejumpingflea
01-18-2010, 07:15 PM
I was giving the point of view from a non-worker for the other booths, but you have a good point. I'll put it in there as well.

paw123los
01-18-2010, 07:39 PM
Have you seen the Risa booth ? They were supposed to show off a new electric les paul style ukulele but I see no info anywhere about them.Maybe they didn't come to NAMM.

J'Ukebox
01-18-2010, 07:52 PM
Great report! Thanks so much for the info!

mds725
01-18-2010, 08:19 PM
Mike DaSilva - Boy, can he build a uke! I was so fortunate to meet Mike and talk with him. He is a great guy and I would love to someday purchase a uke from him. I played one of his instruments and was blown away. It was so light, yet so full of a tone and the instrument itself weighed practically nothing.

I met Mike a few weeks ago at his studio in Berkeley, CA, where I was attending a beginner ukulele class he leads on Wednesdays on odd weeks (first, third and, occasionally, fifth) of each month. Great guy, passionate about ukuleles, and an insightful and patient teacher.

Great NAMM write-up, btw, and thanks for the reviews of all the different manufacturers' ukes. I only have Kalas, so I don't know much about other brands. Did you take any videos?

jerickson
01-19-2010, 03:41 AM
Thanks for the write-up. Any videos of you playing any of the instruments you refererenced?

Ronnie Aloha
01-19-2010, 04:23 AM
I'm glad you had a great time out here Matt. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting Matt in person he is a great guy. He is so humble considering the skill that he possesses. Good luck in your future endeavors Matt and I hope to meet up again sometime soon!

GreyPoupon
01-19-2010, 05:21 AM
Very interesting.

I have a Dias repro from DeSilva. Super light and just wonderful. It gets 90% of my play time. (And it's got some heavy competition!)

What's the full name of the Middle East company? Those ukes sound very interesting but I can't find an uke production company under that name....

molokinirum
01-19-2010, 05:52 AM
Great review. Thanks for keeping those of us who could not attend in the "loop". I loved reading your reports. We lived through you!!!

UKISOCIETY
01-19-2010, 06:08 AM
Matt,

Thanks for the great summary! Sounds like the uke world is full of wonderful people, including you!


Very interesting.



What's the full name of the Middle East company? Those ukes sound very interesting but I can't find an uke production company under that name....

Here's their web site. (http://www.mid-east.com/items.asp?Cc=Ukulele&iTpStatus=1&Tp=)

lonsilog
01-19-2010, 06:22 AM
That was an informative report. Thank you.

I was pondering about going up to Berkeley to check out Mike DaSilva's company, and now I am more inclined to do so.

Bluke
01-19-2010, 06:28 AM
Good report, Flea. Yeah, there's TOO much there to see in one visit, even if you're only into ukes. Imagine being an electric guitar player ( I am!). Here's my video to accompany your text:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXMDVsN6vio

GX9901
01-19-2010, 06:52 AM
Great write-up dude! Thanks for sharing. It must be awesome to attend the NAMM show. I'd probably wet myself if I ever get a chance to go. LOL!

pithaya9
01-19-2010, 07:02 AM
Thanks for all the reporting and pics Matt.