Where to Buy a Ukulele when Visiting HI

KaminTheWeaver

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I’m planning a trip to Hawaii (Oahu and the Big Island) next spring and plan to do some ukulele tourism while I’m there. I know that HMS is on Oahu along with the K brand factory tours as well as Kanile’a’s two stores.

For those that have visited, where was the best place to select and purchase a ukulele? Are there opportunities to purchase at the factory tours, or is it better to find a retail location to pull the trigger? Thanks in advance!
 
A lot of Oahu locals got to Easy Music Center on King Street. It is a big store with a lot of instruments on display. Location is in the center of town; a lot more convenient to most people than HMS. There are also a couple of stores in Waikiki that carry some smaller lesser known brands as well as high-end used instruments.
 
There's something really special to playing some side by side ukes in Hawaii, finding one you love, playing it on your vacation on the beach and carrying it home with you! If you can combine that experience with a factory tour, WIN-WIN! Happened to me, without even planning it...
 
You can buy at Koaloha. Kanilea has a couple of shops (Ala moana, Windward mall?). Lots of good uke shops in Waikiki and nearby. Plenty of previous discussions/threads. BI is much more limited.
AFAIK at KoAloha you can only buy a "Factory Special" ; that would be a cosmetic B-stock , blemish , at a reduced price .
I have also seen "Factory Special" models at shops in Waikiki .
 
It depends what you're looking for / budget.

Either way, one stop I'd definitely classify as uke tourism is Shawn Yacavone at 'Ukulele Friend. Call or email to make an appointment and you'll get a private showroom visit and see/play some of the best custom and higher end ukes for sale on the island. His UAS is on a different level than all of us here. He also loves to talk story and history of the uke and he's very knowledgeable!

The 'Ukulele Store in town also has a huge wall of mid to higher end Hawaiian ukes and a small case of vintage Martins. Tyler also has tons of uke knowledge, if you catch him while he's there.

Puapua is a little smaller shop in town, but has decent selection.

The Stadium Flea Market has a booth called Best Ukulele (I think) that has some K brands. I also think they also have a brick and mortar store, but I didn't look into it.

As for TUS, if you want the good stuff, you might either ask them to bring it to the store front or perhaps drop by the warehouse in Wahiawa if they're available and depending on where you're located. Also, if you wanna meet Corey or Kalei, call first to see who's working. Brey also mans the shop and he's awesome too!

The 'Ukulele Experience at the Polynesian Cultural Center has a cool little display of how ukes are built, without the actual factory experience, plus a wall of Kanileas and a smaller wall of Kamakas and maybe some Koalohas.

If you wanna have a totally local experience, it might be interesting to try Craigslist 😁
 
AFAIK at KoAloha you can only buy a "Factory Special" ; that would be a cosmetic B-stock , blemish , at a reduced price .
I have also seen "Factory Special" models at shops in Waikiki .
I think that's usually the case at Koaloha, but I've seen a guy get a first run uke at the factory special price (10-15% off IIRC) because the factory special for the chosen uke was out of stock. Fwiw I've seen a few factory specials and the blemishes are incredibly minor, amounting to nothing that most of us would demand a discount for.
 
When I was there in March, the best selection (other than factory) was Best Ukulele, which had both a shop and a stand in the Flea Market at the Aloha Stadium. I did not make it out of Honolulu to visit HMS/The Ukulele Site or the Kanile’a factory.

I stopped in both locations for Best Ukulele…which sounds like a scam, but the selection was amazing and I talked with the owner for a long time at his shop (it was quiet…if there had been other customers, I would not have done so). It was the first time I had ever seen a Kanile’a with those super-tiny tuners on it!

At any rate, the owner really knew their “stuff” (at this point, I can tell who knows ukuleles and who sells ukuleles…there’s a difference) and if I was to buy in Hawaii, and couldn’t go to HMS…that is where I would go.

(I have all my K models I am likely to own based on the economy, so I was in the perfect mindset to look and appreciate without having to buy)

And there was a really, really good sandwich shop across the street from the Waikiki location.
 
I’m planning a trip to Hawaii (Oahu and the Big Island) next spring and plan to do some ukulele tourism while I’m there. I know that HMS is on Oahu along with the K brand factory tours as well as Kanile’a’s two stores.

For those that have visited, where was the best place to select and purchase a ukulele? Are there opportunities to purchase at the factory tours, or is it better to find a retail location to pull the trigger? Thanks in advance!
Lucky dog ! Enjoy your visit. I would definitely do any factory tours you can.
 
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