If you were taking a dream vacation to Hawaii...

DJ Mango

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Agreed. as i once saw a uke store with vitamin supplements on one side.

Easy Music Centre looks ok. Never been there. Maybe others can comment?

Petey
I remember that shop .
Guess they had to supplement their ukulele business . :)
I don't think they're still there ; maybe they moved to another location .
 
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mds725

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Other than individual luthiers, who may or may not welcome individuals to their workshops, I'd recommend these places on other islands in addition to all the great places on O'ahu that people have mentioned.

On Hawai'i Island, check out the Holualoa Ukulele Gallery, which is near Kona. At least before the pandemic hit, it displayed and sold only ukuleles that are made by builders living on the islands. It was owned in 2020 by a luthier whose shop was on the floor below the gallery, and back then he offered ukulele building classes in his workshop.
https://bigislandguide.com/holualoa-ukulele-gallery

On Maui, check out Mele Ukuleles. Mele has a nice shop in a mall in Wailea, but the original store is somewhat cooler and is in Kahului.
https://meleukulele.com/

On Kaua'i, check to Hanalei Strings, which is a yarn and ukulele shop specializing in locally-built ukuleles.
https://hanaleistrings.com/
Also on Kaua'i is Kamoa Ukulele in Kapa'a. Kamoa builds less expensive ukuleles overseas, but it also employs local builders and sells those ukuleles online and in its shop.
https://kamoaukuleles.myshopify.com/
 
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PeteyHoudini

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I remember that shop .
Guess they had to supplement their ukulele business . :)
I don't think they're still there ; maybe they moved to another location .
You’re funny. lol. You actually saw that shop on Kuhio Ave.
 

DJ Mango

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You’re funny. lol. You actually saw that shop on Kuhio Ave.
Yes , near a McDonald's that was across the street .
I never went in .
I think it was the previous location of Tyler Gilman's , The Ukulele Store , which is now on Lewers .
 

PeteyHoudini

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Yes , near a McDonald's that was across the street .
I never went in .
I think it was the previous location of Tyler Gilman's , The Ukulele Store , which is now on Lewers .
You’re funny. I like you.
 

PeteyHoudini

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Other than individual luthiers, who may or may not welcome individuals to their workshops, I'd recommend these places on other islands in addition to all the great places on O'ahu that people have mentioned.

On Hawai'i Island, check out the Holualoa Ukulele Gallery, which is near Kona. At least before the pandemic hit, it displayed and sold only ukuleles that are made by builders living on the islands. It was owned in 2020 by a luthier whose shop was on the floor below the gallery, and back then he offered ukulele building classes in his workshop.
https://bigislandguide.com/holualoa-ukulele-gallery

On Maui, check out Mele Ukuleles. Mele has a nice shop in a mall in Wailea, but the original store is somewhat cooler and is in Kahului.
https://meleukulele.com/

On Kaua'i, check to Hanalei Strings, which is a yarn and ukulele shop specializing in locally-built ukuleles.
https://hanaleistrings.com/
Also on Kaua'i is Kamoa Ukulele in Kapa'a. Kamoa builds less expensive ukuleles overseas, but it also employs local builders and sells those ukuleles online and in its shop.
https://kamoaukuleles.myshopify.com/
Nice info. Thanx. I was on the Big Island in Kona and Hilo.
 

badhabits

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Mele also has a newish shop in Paia, right on the main drag (on the right, coming from town). Bigger, but pretty much the same selection as the other stores.
 

merlin666

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I didn't find the Kamoa store appealing more like a tourist trap. For better selection and a variety of brands go to Scotty's in Lihue across from Walmart. Last time I was there I had the lifetime experience of comparing six string ukes from three K brands! He claims he has largest selection of ukes in the world.



On Kaua'i, check to Hanalei Strings, which is a yarn and ukulele shop specializing in locally-built ukuleles.
https://hanaleistrings.com/
Also on Kaua'i is Kamoa Ukulele in Kapa'a. Kamoa builds less expensive ukuleles overseas, but it also employs local builders and sells those ukuleles online and in its shop.
https://kamoaukuleles.myshopify.com/
 
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PeteyHoudini

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Ha Ha ; I asked at Kamaka to see a longneck soprano and they said go to Easy Music Center :)
haha. I luv the Kamaka longneck soprano. Supposedly that model is big in Japan. I even did a YT review on it. Kamaka ukes are first class. I play mainly Martins but Kamaka ukes have that jangly sound like Martin ukes that I luv.

As far as I know, Kamaka do not sell ukes. in their store. As mentioned by kaimuki, you have to hit a shop. Martin Guitars does the same. So when in Hawaii, just hit the shops. Cheers.
 

mds725

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haha. I luv the Kamaka longneck soprano. Supposedly that model is big in Japan. I even did a YT review on it. Kamaka ukes are first class. I play mainly Martins but Kamaka ukes have that jangly sound like Martin ukes that I luv.

As far as I know, Kamaka do not sell ukes. in their store. As mentioned by kaimuki, you have to hit a shop. Martin Guitars does the same. So when in Hawaii, just hit the shops. Cheers.
It's true that Kamaka doesn't sell ukes in its factory, but the tour is worth the time anyway.
 

mds725

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I didn't find the Kamoa store appealing more like a tourist trap. For better selection and a variety of brands go to Scotty's in Lihue across from Walmart. Last time I was there I had the lifetime experience of comparing six string ukes from three K brands! He claims he has largest selection of ukes in the world.

I suggested the Kamoa store because it may be the only place on the islands that sells Kamoa ukuleles. I'm a big fan of Scotty's, but when I was there a few years ago there wasn't mush there that couldn't be found in other ukulele shops.
 

mds725

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Yeah, I know I went twice.
I responded as I did because you did say, "Just hit the shops." I disagree with that advice. The factories are worth visiting, even if, as with the Kamaka factory, you can't buy an ukulele there.
 

PeteyHoudini

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I responded as I did because you did say, "Just hit the shops." I disagree with that advice. The factories are worth visiting, even if, as with the Kamaka factory, you can't buy an ukulele there.
I get it but you need some clarification. Hitting the shops allows you to test out ukes. Uke tours are a different animal like a museum. Look but don’t ever touch.

I openly endorse Kamaka ukes as a amateur player. Hawaiian ukes are amazing. I don’t know retail. haha

It’s nice to be able to test out $800+ ukes.

Just chill.
 

mds725

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I get it but you need some clarification. Hitting the shops allows you to test out ukes. Uke tours are a different animal like a museum. Look but don’t ever touch.

I openly endorse Kamaka ukes as a amateur player. Hawaiian ukes are amazing. I don’t know retail. haha

It’s nice to be able to test out $800+ ukes.

Just chill.
I'm totally chill. I agree that it's fun to try out different well-made Hawaiian ukes. In fact, I made a pilgrimage to Hawai'i in 2011 for the express purpose of being able to compare Kamakas, KoAlohas, and Kanile'as when I couldn't find shops in the Bay Area that sold all three brands. (Spoiler alert: I bought a Kamaka tenor from The Ukulele Store in Koloa Town on Kaua'i.) But going to shops and taking factory tours are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the OP asked for recommendations for *both* builders and shops to visit.
 

PeteyHoudini

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I'm totally chill. I agree that it's fun to try out different well-made Hawaiian ukes. In fact, I made a pilgrimage to Hawai'i in 2011 for the express purpose of being able to compare Kamakas, KoAlohas, and Kanile'as when I couldn't find shops in the Bay Area that sold all three brands. (Spoiler alert: I bought a Kamaka tenor from The Ukulele Store in Koloa Town on Kaua'i.) But going to shops and taking factory tours are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the OP asked for recommendations for *both* builders and shops to visit.
Ok. We’re cool. No issues, bra.
 

DJ Mango

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haha. I luv the Kamaka longneck soprano. Supposedly that model is big in Japan. I even did a YT review on it. Kamaka ukes are first class. I play mainly Martins but Kamaka ukes have that jangly sound like Martin ukes that I luv.

As far as I know, Kamaka do not sell ukes. in their store. As mentioned by kaimuki, you have to hit a shop. Martin Guitars does the same. So when in Hawaii, just hit the shops. Cheers.
I noticed that longneck sopranos are Big in Japan . I'm really curious why .

I was in a guitar and uke shop the other day and after strumming several various brands I strummed on one of their pre-owned Kamaka Standard HF-1's .
I then said to the sales clerk , "now that sounds like an uke " !
He just stared at me blankly .

Last time I was at Kamaka they let me play whatever models they had on display at the front of the store .
They had one or two ukes for sale . So , yes , you can purchase there based on availability .
When I asked to try a longneck soprano they said go to Easy Music Center .
Have yet to do the tour .

Speaking of factory purchase , at KoAloha they only sell "B-stock" at below street retail price .
 

PeteyHoudini

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I noticed that longneck sopranos are Big in Japan . I'm really curious why .

I was in a guitar and uke shop the other day and after strumming several various brands I strummed on one of their pre-owned Kamaka Standard HF-1's .
I then said to the sales clerk , "now that sounds like an uke " !
He just stared at me blankly .

Last time I was at Kamaka they let me play whatever models they had on display at the front of the store .
They had one or two ukes for sale . So , yes , you can purchase there based on availability .
When I asked to try a longneck soprano they said go to Easy Music Center .
Have yet to do the tour .

Speaking of factory purchase , at KoAloha they only sell "B-stock" at below street retail price .
BIG IN JAPAN is an old joke meaning if you haven't made it elsewhere...... you tell everyone you're BIG IN JAPAN. lol

Though, one UU member told me a few years back that longneck sopranos were big in Japan. No idea who that person was but I liked their style.

I have no clue about the Easy Music Center. I need to Google it.

You're totally right about KoAloha. B-stock yes. I still have their fridge magnet.

LOL.. you and I could be friends and have drinks.... no Mai Tais. lol
 

Ed1

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Regarding Easy Music, twelve years ago I bought a Kanilea concert there. It's an easy bus ride from Waikiki. Everyone was helpful and put me in a room with the ukes I was interested in and let me spend as much time as I wanted with them. They sell everything "music" but had a nice display on the wall of ukuleles and the people I worked with then seemed to know their ukes.

Regarding the OP, a dream vacation to HI would give me all the time I needed/wanted and I would go to all the islands, because they all have different personalities. But, if I only had time for one and were interested in ukuleles, then it would have to be Oahu. If I were going for the first time knowing what I now know:
  • After listening to the folks on this forum who live there about where the best little shops to browse ukes in Honolulu are, I would spend a few days at Waikiki beach and browse the little shops for the fun of it - and maybe check out Easy Music Center.
  • I would tour Kamaka and Koaloha
  • I would then rent a car (if I hadn't already) and find a rental or B&B in Kailua and spend some time relaxing on that wonderful beach. While there I would also drive to Kaneohe to see Kanilea.
  • When I became serious about buying a ukulele I would drive to Haleiwa to TUS/HMS. I wouldn't do this last step until I sort of knew what I wanted. I would also call them to talk to them before I arrived, perhaps finding a time when Corey, who has helped me in the past, might be there.
  • Finally, I would spend another day or two relaxing before coming home and would then wait for my Ukulele to arrive. (I would be getting the full setup from HMS.)
And yes, there is much more to see on Oahu than just ukulele stores. I wouldn't miss Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum, Honolulu and State Art Museums, Queen Emma's Summer Cottage, the drives around and through the island, and of course Pearl Harbor. Many of the tourist attractions can also be enjoyable and a lot of fun.