Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 34

Thread: Ko'olau/Pono Factory Tour

  1. #1

    Cool Ko'olau/Pono Factory Tour

    On a recent trip to Oahu, I was able to tour the Ko'olau/Pono Ukulele factory. Here are some pictures I took for anyone interested.

    Hope you enjoy!

    Ko’olau company makes both Ko’olau and Pono ukuleles.
    * Ko’olau brand ukes are all custom made-to-order in Hawaii
    * Pono brand ukes are the Ko’olau production line. They are handmade in Java and then final setup is done in Hawaii
    0_sign.jpg

    This is Danny (our tour guide). Danny does the inspection and final setup of all Pono ukuleles.

    If you have a Pono uke, then odds are that it passed through his hands.
    He is a super cool guy!
    1_1_danny.jpg

    These are the plans for a custom, bow back and front ukulele. The designer has planned out the overall shape and bracing locations.
    The sound holes on this uke are designed like those on a mandolin
    1_2_plans_bow_top_back.jpg

    This is a bending gig for creating the “figure 8” sides of a ukulele.

    The wood (in this case Koa) is cut and sanded to the desired thickness. Then they wet it and place it on the gig.
    Pressure is applied and the wood takes on the shape of the template.
    The wood stays in the gig for about 24 hours.
    3_bending_template.jpg

    These are bracing gigs. The bent sides are placed in the gigs to be glued together, and for installation of the bindings and side braces.
    The gig on the left is a for a “Pineapple” style ukulele.
    The one on the right is a traditional “figure 8” style.
    4_brace_template1.jpg
    Last edited by tw62862; 05-16-2015 at 11:51 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    393

    Default

    That would be a fun visit. Here is a closeup of my Ko'olau tenor tuned high G from the factory:





    There are two signatures on the inside labe.l One is Noa Bonk, and I can't read the other one. Did you get to meet Noa?

    Tony
    Ukuleles: yes, three and a guitarlele.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Southern Oregon
    Posts
    1,874

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tw62862 View Post
    On a recent trip to Oahu, I was able to tour the Ko'olau/Pono Ukulele factory. Here are some pictures I took for anyone interested.

    Hope you enjoy!
    What just happened to the pics?

  4. #4

    Default

    Another view showing the internal braces installed.
    4_brace_template2.jpg

    Backs and tops with braces (the light colored sticks). They are glued in place and then shaped.
    When ready, the top and back are glued to the sides using the bracing gigs.
    5_backs_tops.jpg

    This is a Koa top with an abalone inlay around the sound hole.
    The inlay is done by routing out a channel and then placing small abalone pieces in it. The abalone pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
    8_1_top_with_inlay.jpg

  5. #5

    Default

    This is Noa, installing binding.
    Binding is decorative and also adds strength to the joint between the top/side and back/side.
    6_binding_install.jpg

    This is a supply of necks and heads that have been shaped on a lathe.
    7_1_neck_supply.jpg

    A close up of a head/neck assembly prior to fret board install
    7_3_neck_and_head.jpg

    Fret board being installed
    7_2_necks.jpg

  6. #6

    Default

    Fret board work and tools.
    7_4_fret_work.jpg

    Finishing is done by applying coats of sealer and varnish, and then sanding. The process is repeated over-and-over until the desired look is accomplished.
    8_finishing_room.jpg

    Here is an example of how the beautiful grain of the Koa wood comes out after several layers of gloss.
    The black stripes on the edges is an example of the binding.
    8_finish_grain.jpg

  7. #7

    Default

    This is a beautiful custom ukulele made for a customer in Taiwan. The inlay on the fret board is amazing.
    Even though this ukulele will likely be hung up as an art piece…it was built so that it can be played and sounds beautiful.
    9_1_amazing_inlay2.jpg

    Close up of the amazing inlay on this custom uke.
    9_2_amazing_inlay3.jpg

    Upstairs are the main offices, and the demo room. If you’ve ever seen a video of a Ko’olau or Pono being demonstrated by a famous ukulele player, this room is most likely where they filmed it.
    It is also where they keep the Pono “blems”. These are ukes that have minor cosmetic flaws. They are offered for a substantial discount (well over 50% off) over retail
    We looked at over a dozen of them. In each case, the cosmetic flaw was so minor that Danny had to point it out to us.
    9_3_pono_seconds.jpg

    The tour is free...kind of
    All purchases are optional...but who can resist, right?
    9_5not_free.jpg

    Here I am...the proud owner of a new Pono Tenor Mango Pineapple
    9_6new_uke1.jpg

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    393

    Default

    Very nice! You must have changed your original post and added commentary. Since you have a picture of Noa, I assume youo did get to meet him then. That would be interesting! That last picture of the Koa grain is really, really nice.

    That is definitely the way to go, if you can: buy it right at the factory. Congrats on the new Pono tenor.

    Tony
    Ukuleles: yes, three and a guitarlele.

  9. #9

    Default

    Me and my new baby. I love the pineapple shape.
    I feel like the extra surface area on the sound board gives it very mellow sound.
    I have the same uke (Pono mango tenor) in the traditional "figure 8" shape.
    Even with the same strings, the two sound very different.

    The pineapple has a deep rich tone. I really like it with a low-G
    9_7new_uke.jpg

    That's it...hope you all enjoyed it.

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Icelander53 View Post
    What just happened to the pics?
    Sorry...I realized I could attach them inline with comments. My edit must have happened while you were reading

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •