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Thread: That Peter Howlett soprano at Gryphon

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    st. paul, MN
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    791

    Default That Peter Howlett soprano at Gryphon

    I'm curious if anyone here on UU nabbed the '97 Island Koa sop that sat at Gryphon for a little while, now sold. Built and signed by the esteemed Peter Howlett.

    They didn't realize what they had at first, but I see they righted the description:

    https://shop.gryphonstrings.com/prod...-soprano-58836

    It's a sister to my soprano of the same vintage.
    A Howlett soprano is rare here in the US (maybe anywhere), so I thought it would be fun to know where this one ended up.

    Anyone else have an Island Koa instrument?
    Mr. Howlett might correct me, but I believe this company was Peter Howlett's first serious building venture...
    Gryphon mentions that it's as loud as a concert. Mine too, loud and fine. I think about selling then I fall in love with it all over again.

    Here's some pics of mine, for fun. I don't know what made it a prototype. Maybe that Hawaiian like back and the extended fretboard. The wood is gorgeous with its satin finish...

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/RPnTHvA44o7EAsnz6
    Last edited by ukeinfused; 01-19-2021 at 05:38 AM.
    Tracie

    Island Koa Instruments, prototype sop, Peter Howlett #153
    Kamaka white label sop (Tiki added!)
    Martin O sop, 1920's
    Martin O sop, 1960's
    Bruko Cedar/Mahogany archback
    Anuenue Khaya I sop
    Kala Elite 1MHG sop
    Lanikai SPS-S spruce top sop
    Blue Frog semi-custom LN soprano #1, Vic Jones
    Sawchyn hog concert (Martin copy), Peter Sawchyn
    Kamaka white label concert
    Kala KA-ASOV-C
    Kala Elite 1MHG tenor SN

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Catskill Mountains, NY
    Posts
    7,683

    Default

    Your post got me looking. I found the same uke made by Pete on two different sites. Looking at the wood grain, you can see that it's the same uke.

    https://ukulelefriend.com/portfolio-...wlett-ukulele/

    https://theukulelesite.com/pete-howl...legacy-52.html
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  3. #3
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    2,113

    Default

    BTW- that is not Jake. He is in VT. This is a place in CA

  4. #4
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    Sep 2014
    Location
    Germany
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    139

    Default

    Here's what Pete wrote about it on Facebook a while back. Since it was a public post (I think), I hope, it's okay, to re-post on here:

    This particular instrument is true Howlett History that comes before I branded my ukulele with my name. It was made from some exceptional koa logged on a plantation in the Big Island back in the 1990's by Winkler Snr. I used to buy koa from them in billet form, kiln shorts: what is now termed.. well, you chose? 5A, master-grade, private stock or any other absurd hyperbole to describe what the industry poetically called 'premium full curl' back in 1995. It was incredibly light and subtly figured. I made Weissenborns from it and the 'waste' went into these sopranos. There's about 10 from this period, mostly sold out of stores in the US and considered the 'bench mark' Howlett sopranos by the likes of Stan Werbin, John Bernunzio, and other experts who know their stuff.

    It's now that my legacy is being written as these old first generation, PK instruments return to the fore in the 'pre-owned' market. This one is numbered 100!
    I know Bob Gleason doesn't follow me but, "Hey Bob, I did actually stay the course..." - yep, in the early days in Hawaii they all thought I was a William King, (remember him?) or Dave Means, (sadly no longer making) or any of those other off-islanders trying to usurp locals... yes, it was quite a strained relationship in those early days and I couldn't get noticed because the all important "Made in the USA" label did not appear in my instruments. You must remember folks I am talking pre-Kala and the Revolution when only 'Americans' could build decent ukulele! Thank goodness that prejudice was destroyed by Mike Upton, Johnson Lao, the folks at Ko'Olau and the new breed of Asian builders bringing excellent production and bespoke ukulele to the market.

    Well folks, the proof of the pudding is here. I made it out the other side and now no longer making a 'standard' style instruments, continued sales and demand for my work has never been stronger, thanks in no small part to the internet which has connected me to all of you who have raised me out of obscurity into the light �� Thanks folks.


    I own a Howlett koa soprano myself and it's the one and only I'd keep if I really had to pick only one ukulele.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    st. paul, MN
    Posts
    791

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EDW View Post
    BTW- that is not Jake. He is in VT. This is a place in CA
    Yes, edited, thanks so much. Had my people mixed up!
    Tracie

    Island Koa Instruments, prototype sop, Peter Howlett #153
    Kamaka white label sop (Tiki added!)
    Martin O sop, 1920's
    Martin O sop, 1960's
    Bruko Cedar/Mahogany archback
    Anuenue Khaya I sop
    Kala Elite 1MHG sop
    Lanikai SPS-S spruce top sop
    Blue Frog semi-custom LN soprano #1, Vic Jones
    Sawchyn hog concert (Martin copy), Peter Sawchyn
    Kamaka white label concert
    Kala KA-ASOV-C
    Kala Elite 1MHG tenor SN

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    2,113

    Default

    No problem. Always hard to keep track of. I just did not want someone looking for him there if they needed work

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    st. paul, MN
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ludwig. View Post
    Here's what Pete wrote about it on Facebook a while back. Since it was a public post (I think), I hope, it's okay, to re-post on here:

    This particular instrument is true Howlett History that comes before I branded my ukulele with my name. It was made from some exceptional koa logged on a plantation in the Big Island back in the 1990's by Winkler Snr. I used to buy koa from them in billet form, kiln shorts: what is now termed.. well, you chose? 5A, master-grade, private stock or any other absurd hyperbole to describe what the industry poetically called 'premium full curl' back in 1995. It was incredibly light and subtly figured. I made Weissenborns from it and the 'waste' went into these sopranos. There's about 10 from this period, mostly sold out of stores in the US and considered the 'bench mark' Howlett sopranos by the likes of Stan Werbin, John Bernunzio, and other experts who know their stuff.

    It's now that my legacy is being written as these old first generation, PK instruments return to the fore in the 'pre-owned' market. This one is numbered 100!
    I know Bob Gleason doesn't follow me but, "Hey Bob, I did actually stay the course..." - yep, in the early days in Hawaii they all thought I was a William King, (remember him?) or Dave Means, (sadly no longer making) or any of those other off-islanders trying to usurp locals... yes, it was quite a strained relationship in those early days and I couldn't get noticed because the all important "Made in the USA" label did not appear in my instruments. You must remember folks I am talking pre-Kala and the Revolution when only 'Americans' could build decent ukulele! Thank goodness that prejudice was destroyed by Mike Upton, Johnson Lao, the folks at Ko'Olau and the new breed of Asian builders bringing excellent production and bespoke ukulele to the market.

    Well folks, the proof of the pudding is here. I made it out the other side and now no longer making a 'standard' style instruments, continued sales and demand for my work has never been stronger, thanks in no small part to the internet which has connected me to all of you who have raised me out of obscurity into the light �� Thanks folks.


    I own a Howlett koa soprano myself and it's the one and only I'd keep if I really had to pick only one ukulele.
    This must be the origins of the flamey koa on mine!
    Thanks so very much for your post.
    I'm a member but don't keep track of stuff on FB groups.
    Last edited by ukeinfused; 01-19-2021 at 06:59 PM.
    Tracie

    Island Koa Instruments, prototype sop, Peter Howlett #153
    Kamaka white label sop (Tiki added!)
    Martin O sop, 1920's
    Martin O sop, 1960's
    Bruko Cedar/Mahogany archback
    Anuenue Khaya I sop
    Kala Elite 1MHG sop
    Lanikai SPS-S spruce top sop
    Blue Frog semi-custom LN soprano #1, Vic Jones
    Sawchyn hog concert (Martin copy), Peter Sawchyn
    Kamaka white label concert
    Kala KA-ASOV-C
    Kala Elite 1MHG tenor SN

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Oahu
    Posts
    3,717

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerryc41 View Post
    Your post got me looking. I found the same uke made by Pete on two different sites. Looking at the wood grain, you can see that it's the same uke.

    https://ukulelefriend.com/portfolio-...wlett-ukulele/

    https://theukulelesite.com/pete-howl...legacy-52.html
    different serial numbers? 52 and 58
    Kanile'a K-2 Concert,Ko'Aloha Super Concert,Maui Music 1998 Koa Tenor,Compass Rose Koa Tenor,Graziano Koa Tenor,Kamaka HF3-S,Moore Bettah Milo/Sitka Spruce Tenor,DeVine mother of curl Koa/Engleman Spruce Tenor,Ko'olau Indo Rosewood/Sinker Redwood Tenor,Washburn Lyon and Healy 1936 Bell shaped soprano,Lfdm Bastogne Walnut/Carpathian Spruce Tenor,Rollo Scheurenbrand African Blackwood/Adirondack Spruce Tenor

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Location
    Mtn. View, CA
    Posts
    23

    Default

    Thanks for sharing pictures of your Island Koa, Tracie. It's really beautiful!

    I live close to Gryphon (good and bad!) and picked up this Island Koa uke from Gryphon. Choice came down to this soprano by Pete Howlett or this koa made by Peter Hurney with Pohaku which is still there.

    https://shop.gryphonstrings.com/prod...rano-koa-58593

    I couldn't go wrong with either one and they were both great. I have another uke made by Pohaku and one mahogany coming so decided on picking up the Island Koa.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Saratoga, CA
    Posts
    1,203

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by heyeliza View Post
    Thanks for sharing pictures of your Island Koa, Tracie. It's really beautiful!

    I live close to Gryphon (good and bad!) and picked up this Island Koa uke from Gryphon. Choice came down to this soprano by Pete Howlett or this koa made by Peter Hurney with Pohaku which is still there.

    https://shop.gryphonstrings.com/prod...rano-koa-58593

    I couldn't go wrong with either one and they were both great. I have another uke made by Pohaku and one mahogany coming so decided on picking up the Island Koa.
    Did you pick up the Ken Timms Cuban from Gryphon as well ? That might have been the one I sold to them :-)
    That was an awesome uke! Congrats! I kept the 17 fret version for myself.

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