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Gadzukes!
04-14-2013, 03:19 PM
I'm here in the Big Island for 10 days, and have been hitting every uke shop I can find. So far they're all pretty disappointing. Overpriced Kalas and Oscar Schmidts mostly. A couple that stood out are Kiernan's Music and Hawi Gallery. I'd heard of Kiernan's, but Hawi was an unexpected surprise and actually had the best selection I've seen so far, including a great selection of vintage Kamakas (including a signed Sam Kamaka pineapple). Prices seemed fair too.

They also carry Big Island ukes and had their new made-in-Hawaii line. Beautiful koa, but the finish was a bit milky. Tonally they sounded a little less enthusiastic than the Big Islands traditionals. I know they're new, but to be honest I wasn't impressed. :(

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wickedwahine11
04-14-2013, 04:07 PM
Did you go to Hilo Guitars and Ukuleles? They have a very nice selection.
http://www.hiloguitars.com/
56 Ponahawai St, Hilo, HI
(808) 935-4282

mm stan
04-14-2013, 04:33 PM
Hop on a plane to Oahu......you won't be sorry....and take the oppertunity to do so while you are here....even it's a stopover between flights to check out some ukes....
then you won't have to pay for a hotel and be on the next flight out after you pick up your new uke....:)

perep
04-14-2013, 05:29 PM
I see all the photos are of Hawii shop, great people running it. Nice selection , prices seemed ok when I was there a few weeks ago. The ukulele & guitar shop in Hilo has a great selection of good ukes but be prepared to pay for the better ones you will want. I always find one maybe two I really like there, I am picky for looks & tone together, HAVE to be together. Next door at furniture shop they have some good ukes in BACK of store, you would never know that, sign in window telling you. Good luck.
If you are on OAHU that's a diff. story, BIG selection from many shops & makers there. Don't go getting UAS

Trinimon
04-14-2013, 06:43 PM
I saw that uke shop in Hawi last time summer when I was there. Happened onto it by accident as well while on our way to Pololu Valley but they were closed. :(

migal
04-14-2013, 07:39 PM
Have you tried the Holualoa Ukulele Gallery yet? It's in the old post office on the Mamalahoa Hwy in Holualoa. Sam Rosen is the owner/maker there and usually has a good selection of fine ukes, his own and those of other locally made instruments. He doesn't carry the usual brands and if, a big if, you are lucky he sometimes has a MoreBettah there.

Tigeralum2001
04-14-2013, 08:48 PM
Keep this thread going, I'll be on the Big Island in a few weeks, but only for 5 days, so I will need to know only the best places to go! :)

consitter
04-14-2013, 09:09 PM
If you're on the Big Island, for goodness sake, visit Chuck Moore! See what a Moore Bettah looks like up close and personal!

bborzell
04-15-2013, 06:41 AM
I am concerned about buying an instrument that was built in a higher humidity setting than where it will ultimately live when you get home.

I am in an area where humidity is often in the 40% range. If I brought home a uke that is used to significantly higher humidity, I am concerned that I would be in a constant catch up state with humidifiers. My most recent instrument purchase was from a builder who has pretty much the same humidity as me.

I know of a guy who bought a beautiful archtop jazz box from Viet Nam. The workmanship looked to be impeccable but the wood started moving within 2-3 months. Turns out it had been built in an open shop with >70% humidity. When it got to the states, it was introduced to 40% and rapidly began drying.

Starting a build with 6-8% moisture is often throught to be a great defense against wood movement, but I believe that the difference between humidity levels where instruments are built and where they will ultimately spent their lives is important, too.

Trinimon
04-15-2013, 07:52 AM
There's a uke shop opposite Kimura fabric shop on Mamalahoa Hwy in Kealakekua. There used to be a Just Ukes store across the street as well but I heard they moved. Every time I was up that way, the store was closed. :p

There's Music Exchange and Soundwave Music in Kailua-Kona. Soundwave had some Kamoa, Kala and local uke maker line. Music Exchange carried KoAloha but no Kamakas. Both were very friendly, esp the guy at Music Excange.

For the biggest selection, head on out to Hilo for Hilo Ukulele & Guitars or the furniture and ukulele shop next door.

Next time I'm on Big Island and time permitting and if Chuck isn't busy, I'd love to check out some of his ukes! :)

Tigeralum2001
04-15-2013, 08:07 AM
I am concerned about buying an instrument that was built in a higher humidity setting than where it will ultimately live when you get home.

I am in an area where humidity is often in the 40% range. If I brought home a uke that is used to significantly higher humidity, I am concerned that I would be in a constant catch up state with humidifiers. My most recent instrument purchase was from a builder who has pretty much the same humidity as me.

I know of a guy who bought a beautiful archtop jazz box from Viet Nam. The workmanship looked to be impeccable but the wood started moving within 2-3 months. Turns out it had been built in an open shop with >70% humidity. When it got to the states, it was introduced to 40% and rapidly began drying.

Starting a build with 6-8% moisture is often throught to be a great defense against wood movement, but I believe that the difference between humidity levels where instruments are built and where they will ultimately spent their lives is important, too.
You hit on something important. However, reputable builders will never build at 70% humidity. Most build 40-50% humidity and you should always keep your ukes humidified to that level. This is not hard in most US environments. Not sure I follow your 6-8% comment, but you won't have a problem buying a uke from the BIg Island and taking it home.

Tigeralum2001
04-15-2013, 08:20 AM
Weird double posting issue.

bborzell
04-15-2013, 08:47 AM
You hit on something important. However, reputable builders will never build at 70% humidity. Most build 40-50% humidity and you should always keep your ukes humidified to that level. This is not hard in most US environments. Not sure I follow your 6-8% comment, but you won't have a problem buying a uke from the BIg Island and taking it home.

The 6-8% reference was to the moisture content of building stock, either kiln or air dried.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
04-15-2013, 09:42 AM
ASK the retailer if the instrument was built under climate controlled conditions. If it wasn't, and it's solid wood, you may want to think twice.

The thing about Hilo Guitars & Ukuleles is that their store is climate controlled. So if an instrument has been hanging for more than a week or two, if it was going to have problems they would be showing up at the store. Also, Hilo Guitars is staffed by a couple of accomplished musicians and a seasoned builder/repairman, so they know the instrument business.

Tonya
04-15-2013, 10:14 AM
Ooh, I can't say enough about uke shopping on the Big Island. It's where I found my favorite-est ukulele in November (thanks, Chuck!).

Gadzukes!
04-15-2013, 09:11 PM
Went to Holulua today, but apparently the whole town shuts down on Mondays. :( Off to the Hilo side tomorrow, so I'll miss it.

Chuck and I have been communicating, and I'm hoping to see him soon. He's incredibly gracious!

Gadzukes!
04-18-2013, 06:51 AM
Got to hang out with Chuck and his lovely wife Bonnie yesterday. He graciously took hours out his busy schedule to entertain us, even though I'm not currently a customer (some day!). I finally got to hold and play one of his ukes and was amazed at how amazing they are. Just amazing!

What a great guy. The true spirit of Aloha as imagined by this haole. It was honestly one of the highlights of my trip. Thanks again, Chuck!