Hello again! Sorry it’s been so long. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sitting around playing ukulele. I’ve been spending my free time (a.k.a. middle of the night) building the new Ko’olau Ukulele website! Click the logo to check it out, it will be a continuing process.
I’ve also been recording Corey and Aaron weekly and we now have well over 500 videos between the demos and lessons. I can finally focus on what I want to because I have such an awesome uke expert running the store- Mike Aratani. Of course “The Handler”, Joel Blechinger, is still covering the setups and being uber picky for the customer, so they don’t have to be. If everything were perfect we wouldn’t have to be so neurotic 😐
Zach,Chris and everyone else at HMS understand that our main goal is to help you! Always let us know how we can do that. One way we try is through free resources. Aaron has now become our full time instructor, and we’re currently filming a series of lessons for the baritone. Check out our YouTube Channel for these until we organize the baritone page on our website.
Corey has taught some great things and has excellent technique, but he doesn’t analyze it much because he’s never really approached it that way. He and his dad are both insane on guitar, but not really big into theory talk and all that, just fantastic players. Early on, Corey played uke and obviously made that melodic and harmonic connection with the fretboard and the ear. I try to make him slowly walk me through the steps on songs he’s learned by ear, but it can be a battle. What I really want for Corey is studio time. He’s got a totally unique uke style, and it’s a gift I want him to give!
There has been a lot of exposure lately for the uke. It’s like the rest of the world has finally heard the voice of ukulele! There is inspiration galore, so many internet videos showcasing the ukulele and the human expression it’s capable of. Beyond the contradiction of words, music describes the indescribable. Beyond the hope of being professional, or known, or even heard, there’s a righteous satisfaction to just playing music. Playing ukulele is triumphant! I believe that! Not like I say it out loud or anything, because it is a pretty kooky statement. But there’s something to be said for overcoming fear, or releasing emotions in this way. Choosing your instrument can be a triumphant choice!
Now let’s get down to the latest uke news! Here ‘s a few recent highlights from us at Hawaii Music Supply and The Ukulele Site-
1) Not brand spankin new, but fairly new is- D’addario’s Nyltech and T2 strings. I think the NylTech is a wonderful alternative to Aquila. It’s D’addario using the Aquila formula (licensed from them), and sending it through one of their rectifying processes. It seems to be more reliable with intonation and has added note clarity in the midrange. Kanile’a has now switched to these strings for trueness and reliability. I recommend you try them. They will be perfect for many instruments.The T2 is cool also, but to me they sounds exactly like Alohi Ko’olau strings! I should do a video with these two. We are carrying those as well as the D’addario Pro Arte Uke strings that Jake Shimabukuro uses, which are very warm and balanced but less bright than their other strings. These work well for a very high quality uke that doesn’t need enhancement, and also for those plugging into P.A. systems that tend to be bright and colored with reverb.
2) Pono recently released tons of new Pro Classic models! And they are So Good!! Most notable is the new Acacia pro classic series. Here’s a video of Aaron playing the Acacia 5 series. Rain starts coming down as he starts playing but it ended up being pretty cool. He goes into that “listen to the the rhythm of the falling rain, tellin’ me just what a fool I am”. I thought, “how’s this guy, so cool he even plays along to the weather!”
I wish I wasn’t tied so closely to Pono because I would rave a lot more about them than I already do. I don’t want to come off bias because I’m really not! At certain times Pono has been pretty good, but nowhere close to Ko’olau. With the new Acacia series and Pro Classics, they ‘ve gotten pretty close to Ko’olau quality. They’re certainly a fantastic value for a pro level instrument. We’re happy to now stock about 30 different models from them!
3) Islanders all have a really nice brown headstock logo now and we will post new pics soon. They look better than ever! Islander
4) Luna has finally delivered some of our NAMM order from January and I love ’em. Easiest in-store sale because in this price range, they sound amazing! Browse Luna Ukes
Also in stock- a super nice Koa Deluxe Tenor -gloss/ slothead / radius fingerboard- total dream uke.
Also noteworthy with Ko’olau is their new satin finish. It has the most transparent satin sprayed finish I’ve seen. What you get is that gorgeous wet wood look, but without the reflection of gloss. More of a semi-gloss. For me, this is on the money!
6) The KoAloha Juk-A-Lele is a must see and hear! This sucker is loud! I had to turn down the mic gain or it would overdrive. It’s also articulate and has an undeniable unique character. As the custom maker Alvin Okami said, “It’s a real banger!” This one will surely delight and surprise all that encounter it.
This is an exclusive video for The Ukulele Review- Sweet Juke-a-lele! Here is Corey proving you can play sad music on even the happiest instrument. (Actually, I asked him to play this song, our website has strumming and all that) It has a very distinct picking sound.
These are just a few of the highlights found at The Ukulele Site!