Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Sharing a note from Pops

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Sewell, NJ (suburb of Philadelphia, Pa)

    Default Sharing a note from Pops


    For anyone who has been following my posts on the new products and designs that Alvin "Pops KoAloha" Okami has been designing and redesigning, there has been a lot of great discussion, but also some speculation on why a guy who has been so successful would keep inventing and reinventing. To Know Pops is to know of his unending search for perfection, along with his desire to give people many options, and actually trying his utmost to cover all bases including a fair price for all of the detail, features and acoustic properties that are inherent with every ukulele he has ever handcrafted for over twenty-four years since 1995.

    I have been sharing comments with Pops and there is always speculation about what he is trying to attempt. You can imagine my surprise when I received an email from Alvin today asking me to share some of his thoughts so that everyone will know what is driving him to keep experimenting and developing new styles and designs. I find it so interesting to hear from Pops directly. I hope that you find it interesting as well.

    ------Ed Fiscella

    Hi Ed, I would love it if you can share what I am about to say.

    Firstly, the Pineapple Sunday has been out on the market for over 15 years or so and has acquired a famous status around the world as a unique designed ukulele that also sounds incredible. The original version with the debossed grid also adds tremendously to the effect of creating the "look" of a pineapple's exterior without detracting from the koa wood face grain texture. This combination worked successfully well and I couldn't keep up with orders placed by large dealers as well as individual customers so I decided to stop production because, after all, I am the only person handcrafting each one meticulously. The debossing process involves a lot of time and when I recently decided to reactivate this version, I edited the debossing grid lines to a bare minimum which worked in favor of exposing the grain even more on the face. This satisfies the "purists" who want to see ukulele faces with curly grain configurations. I am presently handcrafting these minimal grid face PIneapple Sundays along with the painted versions.

    Secondly, the painted version was instituted because in my research, I discovered long ago that utilizing Engelman spruce for the face creates such a beautiful, clear, loud and tremendous sustain that is incomparable with all of the woods I have tried, including my beloved Koa wood. I took this observation and started to mount Engelman spruce on the faces and it was an acoustic dream. However, I knew that for the most part, having Engelman spruce on the face would not draw or attract any attention at all. Spruce is blond and has almost no appeal visually so I put on my thinking cap and one day decided to give the spruce face a "facelift" so to speak with art work. The result was outstanding and it certainly caught the attention of whoever happened to see it hanging on the wall in our factory.

    The aspect of the paint diminishing the sound was non-existent and in fact, elevated every aspect acoustically. I suspected that there would be questions expressed in ukulele circles but if they saw the same Pineapple Sunday with an unpainted spruce face, I'm sure they would be able to understand the reasoning behind adorning the face with artwork that is also beautiful to see and admire (as they would a beautiful grain koa face).

    For those who love to see beautiful wood on the face, sides and back, I would like to say that if they could see besides the painted face, the sides are beautiful grained koa along with specially selected "crazy" koa backs. I am calling this combination and integration of music and art simply "MUSE-ART". The commercial slogan will read, "One of a Find, One of A KInd and One of A PIne!"

    Incidentally, each “One of a PIne” is truly a collector's item because no two are alike so this fact alone should be an attractive incentive for those looking for investing in a collectible ukulele. I am still handcrafting the All Koa face version along with the painted version to satisfy hopefully, everyone and anyones preferences.

    Above all of this that I have expressed, my utmost desire as a former professional oboist is that people would want to purchase an instrument because it sounds awesome and not necessarily because it looks good. After all, the ukulele is now recognized as a legitimate musical instrument and not a toy anymore so searching for an ukulele that excels in sound would be my absolute pursuit. Forgive my bias, but as a former oboist whose ears are still keen and perceptive enough to recognize excellence in sound, I know that the ukulele that I am fashioning whether it be a standard figure eight shape body, a pineapple shaped body or any other shape that others may view as different, my ears will be forever attracted to beautiful sounds whether it be in the form of an ukulele, violin, guitar or any other musical instrument.

    Mahalo for sharing this with anyone interested, Ed.

    Pops KoAloha

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2019


    Thanks for sharing that, Ed.

    And please tell Pop's thank you for sharing on my behalf. I, for one, love that Pops is still tinkering and coming up with new things. Tell him to keep doing what he's doing!
    Mainly a concert player.

    Beansprout alto (myrtle) | Martin Konter | Kala Elite Soprano
    KoAloha Silver concert | Blackbird Clara | Kamaka HF-2A | KoAloha Opio KCO-10 (acacia) | KoAloha Opio KCO-10S (spruce top)
    UkeSA Pineapple Sunday concert (acacia) | Pop's Pineapple Sunday (koa)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Catskill Mountains, NY


    Thanks for that. Very informative.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2015


    Not quite sure how painting the soundboard can 'elevate every aspect acoustically' but maybe he's invented magic paint too
    Kamaka HF-3DC - Kamaka HF-2LD - Kanile'a Custom 5 string Super Tenor - KoAloha Special Issue Tenor - Pono MGTP5-PC

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Raleigh, NC


    Thanks for sharing, Ed. Pops is a treasure.
    PLAYERS: Martin C1K • Enya Nova U concert (BLUE!) • Ohana CK-50WG concert (solid cedar top) • Ohana SK-28 ‘Nunes’ • Flea koa soprano • Ohana SK-35G solid mahogany soprano <yay!!> • Famous FS-1 <yippee!!> • Firefly maple concert banjolele <yee-haw!> • Makala MK-CE concert
    LOOKERS: • Vintage 'Mauna Loa' c. 1925 soprano • Kahuna "Felix the Cat" soprano • Woodrow "Steelers" soprano <eyeroll>

    Raleigh Uke Jam:

    My YouTube page

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA


    I am utterly in awe of Pops' ability of thinking outside the box to come up with fresh approaches to creating unique ukuleles.

    I can only imagine being a sculptor and having to sculpt the same piece, day after day. It would make me crazy.

    It's wonderful that he has an outlet for his creativity.

    May he continue for years to come.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2018


    Pops is special and having him design and make an ukulele for me was extra special.

    I am the recipient of the second "AO" uke that he built. Rather than make another Banger, he got his creative juices inspired and went all out to redesign and build the first "AO" for me. And what a beauty it is! See the photos from post #12 on this thread:

    He designed the incredibly elegant and beautiful headstock with the AO koa inlay and added the black on the top of the body where it met the neck. Zebrawood fret bands, bridge insert, and bottom band were decorative touches that added to the already great looks. We were excited! And then...

    He strung it up and was disappointed in the sound. Why? It did not project or sustain as well as he expected, which turned out was likely due to the "overbuilding" with the headstock and body. So he contacted me offering it to me with this subdued sound or to wait while he completed a second one that he already began building. This one sounded great and I took him up on the offer while he spent much of his holiday season to get it to me before the new year (so I could play Auld Lang Syne on it according to Pops, lol). What an incredible offer and choice from an incredible person.

    So now I sit with the "second" AO built and will have a NUD here soon.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

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

Tags for this Thread


Posting Permissions

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