• IPHONE CASE GIVEAWAY!

    Thanks to our mates at Ukulele Lab in Hawaii, we have TWO beautiful koa iPhone cases to give away! All you need to do to be in the running to win one of these handcrafted beauties is send us a photo of yourself with a copy of KAMUKE Ukulele Magazine. The two most creative entries will win. Remember to send us your full name and mailing address, as well as your preference for an iPhone X or iPhone 7/8 case. The competition is now open worldwide and will end on Sunday, September 30 at midnight, Australian Eastern Standard Time. Send your entry to editor@kamuke.com NOW!

     

  • Aloha, KoAloha!

    I FIRST visited the KoAloha Ukulele factory in Honolulu with my brother in 2001. We were welcomed like old friends and just happened to be there when incredible uke player Gordon Mark showed up and gave us an impromptu concert! It was absolutely fantastic and I’ve been mates with the wonderful Okami family ever since.

    In February, I returned to Hawaii for the first time in eight years and made sure to visit the NEW KoAloha factory. Check it out!

    Cameron

    I even got to play a couple of numbers for the guests on the official factory tour!

     

  • CONSTRUCTION ZONE: KAMAKA UKULELE

    ESTABLISHED in 1916 in what was then the Territory of Hawaii, Kamaka is the oldest manufacturer of ukuleles in the world and the name is still synonymous with quality. KAMUKE chats to production manager and third-generation luthier Chris Kamaka.

    What makes a Kamaka ukulele so special?

    Here at Kamaka, we really take pride in our work. We are fast approaching 100 years and I feel special just to be a part of it. Experience helps with anything and we all learn from our mistakes along the road of life. Through the years, there have been ups and downs, but it’s how you handle your journey that makes the difference.

    As a Kamaka, was being involved in the family business your only career option?

    No, I almost joined the US Air Force with aspirations to be a pilot. Now my two younger brothers are captains with Hawaiian Airlines and my son Dustin is a pilot flying with Trans Air, a cargo outfit here. I majored in business and art design with the intention to join the family business.

    What does your role as production manager entail?

    I oversee the production models, primarily to manage the orders and make sure everything is flowing properly. I also look over and check each instrument before we send them out. 

    There are more and more uke builders arriving on the scene all the time. How has Kamaka responded to that challenge?

    The ukulele has grown and the popularity is tremendous. Many builders today look to us to set the standard because we have expectations and we hold our craftsmanship at a high level. We try to continue to set the bar high and maintain a level of excellence which others look up to. I am glad there are more builders and welcome them. I don’t see others as a challenge to what we do.

    Why do you think we’re seeing such a worldwide resurgence of the ukulele now?

    The ukulele has always been a fun instrument. Technology (especially things like YouTube) has helped introduce the ukulele worldwide. There have been many promoters of the ukulele through the years, most recently Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and Jake Shimabukuro.

    How did the famous and often copied Pineapple Ukulele come into being?

    My grandfather Samuel Kamaka Sr invented the pineapple and actually had it copyrighted until a few years ago. He started building pineapple ukuleles in his garage in Kaimuki, experimenting with the sound.

    What’s your bestselling model?

    It’s pretty close, but I would say the HF-3, our four-string tenor model.

    Tell us about Kamaka’s proud history of employing disabled people.

    My dad hired many hearing-impaired workers and they turned out to be some of our best workers. My mom was an occupational therapist and introduced many of these workers back in the day. Their sense of touch was so sensitive that when my dad trained them, they could tell just by tapping on the top of the instrument whether it was correct or not.

    What can a visitor expect from the Kamaka factory tour?

    If you have uncle Fred as your tour guide, you will have one thorough tour, and I’m sure you will enjoy it tremendously.

    Check out the full Kamaka range and find your nearest stockist at kamakahawaii.com

     

    This article first appeared in Issue 7 of KAMUKE, which is available in the Store

  • JUMPIN’ JAKE FLASH!

    NO OTHER player in recent decades has popularised the ukulele to the same extent as Jake Shimabukuro. Since shooting to stardom in 2006 with his YouTube cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, the Hawaiian virtuoso has been touring the world and inspiring millions. In our exclusive interview, Jake takes time out from his Uke Nations world tour to chat about his ukulele idols, a brush with royalty and what the instrument means to him.

    Which uke players did you look up to when you were a kid?

    My all-time favourite ukulele player is Eddie Kamae. He is regarded as the first ukulele virtuoso here in Hawaii. Some of my other heroes include Peter Moon, Ohta-San and Troy Fernandez.

    You were already a respected musician in 2006, but how did that YouTube video change your life?

    YouTube opened so many doors for me in 2006. It helped to introduce my ukulele playing to millions of people around the world and allowed me to establish a consistent touring schedule. YouTube is a great vehicle for artists like myself to be heard.

    What advice do you have for the next generation of YouTube hopefuls?

    I think the most important thing is to be yourself. The video that you post will be around for a very long time, so make sure that you post something you’ll still be proud of 20 years later.

    You’re always touring. What’s been your most memorable gig so far?

    By far one of my most memorable moments is a performance with Bette Midler in England, for Queen Elizabeth. I even shook Her Majesty’s hand after the performance.

    Why do you choose to play Kamaka instruments?

    I always wanted to play a Kamaka tenor ukulele – they are the Excalibur of ukes. The tone is what sets it apart from other brands and Kamaka is the world’s leading ukulele manufacturer when it comes to quality, with almost 100 years of experience.

    Where is your favourite place to practice?

    I can practice anywhere. That’s the beauty of the ukulele. I could be at the airport, in a taxi or on a boat strumming away and not have to worry about ruining the instrument.

    What’s your No. 1 tip for intermediate players who are looking to step up?

    I always tell players that the most important thing is your tone. If you can get a good tone out of your instrument, people will want to listen and you will be inspired to play.

    You’ve performed in Australia. What do you think of the uke scene down-under?

    The ukulele scene is growing rapidly in Australia. The last time I toured there, a lot of people brought their ukes for me to sign after the show. I’m looking forward to touring there again next year. I’m sure I’ll meet a lot more uke players.

    If you could record a fantasy duet with any artist, living or dead, who would you choose and why?

    My fantasy duet would have to be with Eddie Kamae. I wouldn’t be playing the ukulele the way I play it today if it weren’t for him and his vision for the instrument.

    What’s on heavy rotation on your iPod right now?

    I’ve been listening to the Rocky IV soundtrack recently. It’s very inspiring and definitely motivates me to work hard and not be lazy!

    In terms of its development, where would you like to see the ukulele movement go in the next five to 10 years?

    I hope that gear manufacturers will start to make quality products specifically for the ukulele. For example, pickups, tube amps and effect pedals that are calibrated for the range of the instrument.

    What can we expect from your 2014 Uke Nations tour?

    I’ve been touring with a bass player this year. That’s been a lot of fun. The bass guitar and ukulele complement each other very well. They don’t get in each other’s way sonically and the low bass notes allows for more harmonic complexity in the ukulele.

    Finally, what has the ukulele given you?

    The ukulele has been a great mentor in my life. I try to think and be like an ukulele – to live simple, be humble, friendly, child-like, positive, and always keep my roots in Hawaii.

    For tour dates and a whole lot more, head to jakeshimabukuro.com

    Photos by Paul McAlpine

    This article first appeared in Issue 8 of KAMUKE, which is available in the Store