Lutherie Questions for Joe Souza (Kanile`a `Ukulele founder/owner)

anaka

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Hey everyone! We're in the process of scheduling Joe Souza to be a guest on the Ukulele Underground Podcast sometime this month (Sept. 2021). If you happen to have any ukulele building-specific questions you'd like to ask him, please post them here!

The vast majority of UU Podcast listeners are general ukulele enthusiasts, so in order to really take advantage of this opportunity, we figured it would probably be wise to enlist the help of the LL community to throw him at least a few questions that he can really sink his teeth into. Please post below & MAHALO for your contribution!
 

badhabits

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I'd like to know roughly when the envision being able to be able to use koa from their reforestation efforts.
 

Pete Howlett

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I can answer that. Under the right conditions it has been found that usable instrument grade koa can be harvested 30 ears after planting,,,
 

cyber3d

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Will Joe ever introduce materials such as carbon fiber or composites, ever?
 

Timbuck

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Who's Joe Souza ? ... First time I've heard of him.
 

badhabits

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Thanks Joe...will you be allowed to actually harvest koa from the the planted trees?

Also, isn't there some kapu with using beach sand for inlays? Or are you not concerned with that?
 
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cyber3d

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Thanks Joe...will you be allowed to actually harvest koa from the the planted trees?

Also, isn't there some kapu with using beach sand for inlays? Or are you not concerned with that?
I've always had that question too. With all of the manufactures in HI too, actually.
 
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Timbuck

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Heads up Kanilea. Click here
Miguel
I don't want to sound as ignorant .. but I don't follow other commercial manufactures much ..I look at the products and that's about all ..Most of them look the same to me with different shaped headstocks and bling inlays..l mostly follow the great builders on this forum who I admirer quite a lot..And all my efforts so far has been trying to reproduce replicas of the early Martin Sopranos. Apologies to Joe he should have been on this forum.:) then maybe we could have become mates. :) ..by the way I have just downed an excellent bottle of Spanish wine..so be gentle with me :)
 

Pete Howlett

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Isn't Kanilea largely run by his children now? And Ken, you do your thing regardless of what is going on. That is the beauty of it. That is why there is great demand for your work. Total respect.
 

lauburu

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I have just downed an excellent bottle of Spanish wine..so be gentle with me
I'm impressed. Had I just downed a bottle of Spanish wine, I wouldn't be able to find the keyboard.
Miguel
 
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I'm no lutherie, but I'd love to ask these questions!

When we talk about grades of Koa, are they tonal grades and just aesthetic grades (e.g. Super duper curly Koa). Can a potentially higher grade of Koa have lower tonal properties?

Are the grades of Koa something that is constant, or is it relative to seasonal growth and general increasing scarcity and demand for Koa?

Lastly, I love that for every kanile'a purchased, a Koa tree is planted. Can you give us an idea of how many ukuleles can come from a single Koa tree so we can better understand how impactful this is?
 

merlin666

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I have attended Kanile'a factory tour and had opportunity to ask Joe in person, and his enthusiasm and knowledge are great. However, I am still curious about what string sets they are using for their six and eight string ukes (which sound fantastic).
 
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Another question for Joe actually!

The D series are really spectacular looking instruments! I noticed that the tops of them, though asymmetrical with the D shaped sound hole and side sound port, are still bookmatched in two pieces on top. With changes in design and bracing occurring, do you still think you'll keep two bookmatched pieces for the tops of these innovative designs, or does the future possibly hold a change to the joins/number of pieces on top for aesthetic/tonal/structural reasons?
 

anaka

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Aw man, some really great questions, everyone! Going to try and ask Joe as many of these questions as we can on the podcast episode. Feel free to keep them coming
 

anaka

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So my question/request is to get a brief introduction and background of Joe posted here on UU which covers his ukulele business and life. Also could I suggest that there be a facility for the shy makers to ask an anonymous question without needing to post it where everyone can see it.

As lauburu mentioned, HERE is a link to a little bit of Joe's backstory on the Kanile'a website. He began apprenticing under a master luthier in 1991, started an ukulele shop out of his own garage in 1998, and has since grown Kanile'a Ukulele to an internationally recognized and respected brand.

No problem! Feel free to email your questions to:
UU email.jpg

Just be sure to mention that it's a question for Joe Souza on the UU Podcast, and that you want to remain anonymous.
 

Cadia

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I just hope he continues to use the beautiful figured koa that makes Kanile'as so eyecatching. But like scrambled eggs asks above, I too wonder about the difference in tonal properties of plainer, unfigured grades of koa. And a string question, I'm curious - my understanding is that they use Aquila strings. Why Aquila, what does he feel they do for the Kanile'a build?
 

Ukecaster

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Looking at their TRU-R top bracing, fine tuned over the years with perforations for lighter weight, and cutouts that provide less contact with the top. What other innovations are possible with their bracing?

Screenshot_20210913-083957_Chrome.jpg
 
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Looking at their TRU-R top bracing, fine tuned over the years with perforations for lighter weight, with cutouts that provide less contact with the top. What other innovations are possible with their bracing?

View attachment 135718
I saw a video of them lasering out the triangle cuts in the bracing, which are visible when looking into the soundhole. Imagine how cool it would be if they were able to cut out a little pineapple shape or something! I'm guessing the design for that is in autocad or something, but who knows..
 

sequoia

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Interesting. Looks almost like a modified 'V' bracing scheme. Not sure the triangle cuts on the transverse bracing would do much but it looks cool.