Setting sail with Kimo

A blissful moment: Kimo plays my first uke

Kimo Hussey has been a powerful source of inspiration for me. His spirit of aloha and encouraging advice when I was new to ukuleles have been like a lighthouse.

Befitting these lofty duties and his renown in the ukulele world–and despite his approachability and warmth even at our first meeting–I had him on a pedestal, with a little mist swirling below to heighten the effect.

So it was a huge surprise when we were corresponding recently and he suggested that I make him an instrument. Had he not been home in Hawaii he might have felt my jaw bounce off the floor–seismic detectors throughout the Northwest recorded it. I recovered sufficiently to agree enthusiastically, and we began discussing possibilities.

I’ve been intrigued for years with longer scales for tenor ukes, and Kimo has been exploring this with Jay Lichty and other wonderful makers. Kimo’s warm sound also suggested a larger body to go with the longer scale’s sustain; a more resonant, ringing, and complex palate to complement the juicy chords and melody lines of his playing. The larger box also promised a sweet balance for the longer neck.

What a wonderful way to start the year!