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Thread: Iiwi ukuleles?

  1. #1

    Default Iiwi ukuleles?

    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?

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    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/...-I-iwi-Concert

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

    Leave every place better than you found it.

  3. #3
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    May 2013
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    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.
    Everybody should have and play a uke. It’s so simple to carry with you and it is one instrument you can’t play and not laugh! - George Harrison

    Organizer, Peninsula Ukulele Group www.meetup.com/Peninsula-Ukulele-Group

  4. #4
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    Mar 2012
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    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....

  5. #5
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    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.
    Craig


    Beau Hannam Spiral Rosette tenor
    Moore Bettah tenor "Ki Uke"
    Kinnard mahogany tenor
    Koa Works tenor
    Koa Works concert
    Pohaku custom mahogany concert

  6. #6
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    nongdam used to have one and might still have it. I'm sure that Daniel will chime in here.

  7. #7
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    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.
    Last edited by Kekani; 10-12-2014 at 11:32 PM.

  8. #8
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    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.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by nongdam View Post
    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.
    Last edited by Kekani; 10-12-2014 at 11:36 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by nongdam View Post
    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.

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