Ukulele Highlights from NAMM 2012! – Part 1

NAMM is the annual music industry trade show. Manufacturers show new products and music stores buy or order them. Every year it’s an exhausting ordeal for me with tons of appointments and hundreds of new things to see.  This year was different. At the end of 2011 we made the wonderful decision to go from a full line store carrying guitars, amps, keyboards, drums etc.. To simply carrying ukuleles (tons of them!) This made NAMM much more fun and much more focused.

Our store, Hawaii Music Supply aka The Ukulele Site, had Mike Aratani aka Music Guy Mic there all four days. He gladly scoured for every esoteric uke related product in this ginormous center of music madness, as he does every year. However, I had the pleasure of going for just a day with one purpose; To see the latest and greatest ukuleles on the market. I took along my camera so I can share with you the best in ukulele from NAMM 2012~

There are tons of ukulele makers now. Hundreds! But many are coming from the same factory and most are….not good. (don’t want to say total crap)

From all of the new ukes popping up on the market the only new import line that impressed me was Gretsch. This is a company that was one of the first ukulele manufacturers but dropped off the uke map for over half a century. I have a Gretsch ukulele made in the thirties that has a great tone and was glad to hear they would be coming out with a new line. What I didn’t expect was that they would sound and look so good at such affordable prices. Basically, there will be a laminate mahogany line and a solid mahogany line, each with a soprano, concert, and tenor. And a banjo ukulele. Once again, the world will have great ukes from Gretsch!!

NAMM is so loud that if an acoustic instrument sounds good, it really sounds good. And such was the case with Gretsch. These are going to be one of the top affordable options we carry so stay tuned, you will soon see them at TheUkuleleSite.


Also noteworthy is the Kanile’a Islander line expanding. New ukes to the line up include acacia and a spalted maple. Not solid wood, but they have amazing resonance and have been voiced beautifully.

They have a new solid spruce/rosewood model  as well, and everything Islander is a great value. If you liked their mahogany series you will love these new models.

Islanders are really popular in the store because they sound good. I got a chance to play these new ones at the Kanile’a factory before NAMM. They sound at least as good as the mahogany series, but look even better!!

Speaking of Kanilea; We are shipping back a number of gorgeous Kanile’as from the show so check it out next week on the ukulele site. Here is a sneak peek-

Seeing this beautiful of koa reminds me of the first thing Mike bought for the store in the first 10 minutes of the show. Talk about gorgeous!!! We snagged the most beautiful Kamaka I have ever seen!

This is a masterpiece custom tenor from Casey Kamaka with eye popping flame koa and inlays Hawaii’s beloved little fish, the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa swimming up the fretboard. The Hawaiians had fun naming this one. “The stubby-nosed, brightly striped and slightly aggressive little fish whose name few tourists even try to utter (it’s pronounced HOO-moo-HOO-moo-NOO-koo-NOO-koo-AH-poo-AH-ah) is commonly believed to be the state’s favorite.” -fox/associated press

“Here’s a cute little fish. It kind of looks like a pig and it squawks and everything,” said Chuck Johnston, editor of Hawaii Fishing News.”and no one eats the Humuhumu”. This ukulele is one of the best to ever be made and I can’t wait to really give you guys some great photos and maybe even a sound sample.

Also, Kamaka revealed …..they will be opening up their deluxe series for orders in April. That includes the deluxe like you see below, and the Ohta San signature bell shaped concert with a spruce or cedar top. I can’t wait to order! We will be calling them first thing in April so let us know and we can order one for you!

Kamaka was really decked out with cool and unique instruments this year. The (19″) scale long neck tenor, 8 string baritone…and a bunch of amazing deluxe’s. Let’s see what Mike brings back to the shop!

Other cool things…

Ohana is not a new company, but they are definitely sounding and looking better than ever. I was especially impressed with the sound and look of some of their new redwood top models with Myrtle sides and back.
These are woods usually only found in custom instruments. We’ll be “cherry pickin” from this line and there are truly some sweet ones that will be added to our website in 2012!

Also coming….LoPrinzi’s!

and on order- a Mike DaSilva -James Hill Custom! Man!! This tenor is unreal! You guys better start saving…

From takumi , the makers of Kiwaya and distributors of many different Japanese custom makers, we picked up a few LoPrinzi models and saw some very tempting custom builds from Japanese makers.

We would love to bring some of the custom Japan makers in and surely it is just a matter of time before we do.

So that is part 1 and bulk of our best in show. Kala and Luna have so many new models we are gonna dedicate a separate blog for them. Look out for that in the next few days.

Aloha from Hawaii and thanks for checking out The Ukulele Review and The Ukulele Site.

Best New Uke Line……

Comments 6

    1. Ya, I love those guys. Jen gave me a shirt that says “music was my first love” we made a big order with them again. BUT, I did not see the RV one there and I forgot to ask. I am sending an email now to inquire. Hopefully they still have that fabric.

  1. Anything new and interesting from Kala? In the past they’ve had limited runs on things like an 8 string bari and travel ukes in different woods. I’ve regretted not buying some of their more interesting ukes in the past. Were they there and showing anything that got your attention?

  2. Pingback: New Gretsch Ukulele- Review and Sound Sample « Ukulele Reviews, Lessons, and Performances!

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