For as long as I can remember my father was a well respected full time luthier (stringed instrument builder & repairman). He built custom guitars but mostly supported our family by doing warranty work for Martin, Gibson, Taylor and other guitar makers. When teaching my brother and I this craft he always emphasized meticulous work and proper technique. The focus was on precision, a deep understanding of the process, and attention to the smallest details. He never urged us to be faster. In fact he would tell me to “go slow and do a good job”.
About 20 years ago my dad (John Kitakis) started Ko’olau Guitar & Ukulele Company. That pride of craftsmanship and aim for the finest quality have always been at the heart of Ko’olau and many serious musicians were and still are delighted by this. 9 years ago when I left to start Hawaii Music Supply, my brother Noa took over the Ko’olau custom shop and has continued to perfect this art and take it further than ever. My father set forth on a new venture; To make a Ko’olau quality instrument at a more affordable price. This has been no casual effort. It’s taken him many years but now he gives us the highly regarded Pono brand, our best selling line of ukuleles. Even though quality has become consistent, he still travels back and forth from the island of Java every few months working with the luthiers there and checking quality on every single ukulele. This is not some kind of loose operation. In fact I know their QC is second to none. The cost of production in Java is much less than in Hawaii, but it’s run with the same requirements as Ko’olau.
“Keep it Pono” is local for, do it right, or show excellence in what you do. For Ko’olau owner John Kitakis, affordable excellence for the ukulele community has been a constant effort, maybe even a struggle. But I would now consider it to be an achievement, because Pono’s are now consistently excellent. Every instrument in the Pono lineup is of the finest value available.
Here is a look at the process of building a Pono followed by an overview of the models available. Each picture opens to a gallery with more info/videos. Enjoy, and let us know if you have any questions.
Check back here for new models and updates
There will always be new models coming from Ko’olau’s Pono line. One soon to arrive is the chambered solid body version of the Ko’olau CE. Learn more about that model HERE. Others in the works include a tahitian style uke, more exotic woods, and further evolutions towards the ultimate value for the ukulele community. Join us here and at our store, TheUkuleleSite, for the latest on these and more.
Sing the Body plays an original on their Pono Guitar & Ukulele. They love the cedar rosewood. As do I!
Even huge stars like Bruno Mars choose Pono!