fullsizeoutput_e9eLate January 2017: It’s been cold, with a big dose of snow and freezing rain for Western Oregon. I revel in the first hints of longer days, the crystal clarity of Venus and Mars on icy evenings…and a season that doesn’t involve mowing grass.

Epiphany is well past, so I reluctantly took out the Christmas tree a few days ago, but I miss the lights. Being as near sighted as I am has two undeniable benefits: it’s a super power for the most detailed work in building instruments, and Christmas lights are amazing, verging on hallucinogenic.

Saturday night kanikapila at da racks, behind the police station on Waikiki beach

The Exhibition of the Ukulele Guild of Hawaii was wonderful! Between the Guild organizers, fellow exhibitors, and attendees, it was a lesson in aloha and shared enthusiasm.

I also spent time with Andrew Kitakis and the rest of the great Ukulele Site/Hawaii Music Supply gang up on the north shore before the exhibition, nearly spraining my neck from turning around so fast when Corey Fujimoto started playing the first movement of the Bach Violin Sonata in E major on Reynard–Wow/ouch! I will be supplying instruments to the Ukulele Site and to Shawn Yacavone of Ukulele Friend later this year.

I’m slaving away now preparing for the  Palm Strings Ukulele Festival in February 2017, which includes James Hill,  Peter Luongo, Jack and the Vox, Abe Lagrimas, Michael Powers, and Stu Fuchs.

Peter Luongo test drives at the Reno Ukulele Festival

Then before you know it Ukulele Band Camp at Menucha arrives (James Hill, Kevin Carroll, Aaron and Nicole Keim), followed shortly by the big Reno Ukulele Festival (Gerald Ross, Victor and Penny, Abe Lagrimas, Michael Powers, Peter Luongo, Steve Espaniola, Faith Ako, and more–whew), and the Northwest Handmade Instrument Exhibit at Marylhurst. And it’s not too early to be thinking about Bend Ukulele University, and for us geeks the Guild of American Luthiers (GAL) convention. Speaking of the GAL, I recently had an interview with Corvallis violin maker Jeff Manthos published in the American Lutherie.

OK, enough for now. Here is the list (as always, possibly out of date) of some of the finished and unfinished ukes in the shop, all tenor unless noted:

  • Lakshmi – East Indian Rosewood, bearclaw spruce, spalted rosette, varnish finish
  • Rio -Lyric (small body baritone) CSA rosewood, sinker redwood
  • Luna – another fabulous “Richard Parker” tiger myrtle, bearclaw Swiss spruce
  • Black Orculele – African Blackwood, bearclaw Swiss spruce
  • Mr. Fox – incredibly curly mahogany, sinker redwood
  • Jupiter – Lyric baritone in myrtle/Swiss for Reno Ukulele Festival drawing
  • Carmen – koa/Swiss spruce  (sold)
  • CoolCow/Bonita – GT model, CSA rosewood, Swiss moonspruce (sold)
  • Halifax – East Indian rosewood, bearclaw Swiss spruce, cutaway (reserved)
  • Black Mordor – GT, African Blackwood, sinker redwood, Barad-dur headstock (sold)
  • Orodruin – Madagascar rosewood (from “volcano tree”), sinker redwood (for Ukulele Site)

Pop on over to my Facebook for more timely updates. Slightly more timely anyhow;-\.


Late October 2016: a solitary pale green cricket chirruped softly on the studio door jamb last night, a tender coda to the vast evening choruses of summer.

The sour gum trees have more brilliant scarlet leaves scattered below than remain on the branches, and I fear one good windstorm will un-decorate the entire autumn display.

Kevin Carroll and LIttle Mac in the recording studio

But any autumn melancholy was more than offset with Kimo Hussey’s workshop/concert late September, and the Port Townsend Ukulele Festival only days later, an extraordinary gathering of teachers/performers and students.

Little Mac (Macassar ebony/redwood tenor) followed ace instructor Kevin Carroll home to Austin, Texas for some recording; when it’s released I’ll link it on FaceBook.

I’m now preparing for the Ukulele Guild of Hawaii Exhibition–a giant invitational gathering of ukes and makers just steps from the beach at Waikiki, with workshops, kanikapila, and attendees from around the world.