Why would a custom guitar builder with a 3 year wait list for his guitars (which happen to start at 10 grand), start building ukuleles?
Just like you, Pepe has discovered what a beautiful instrument the ukulele is. It has it’s own voicing different from the guitar. He began listening to the new breed of uke players and was excited to build one for himself. Pepe approached it experimenting with various techniques he acquired through the 15 years that he has been building guitars. He wanted to bring the ukulele’s size and scale to it’s full potential in tone and projection. The results are impressive! He could have just continued building guitars, but as Pepe said, “ukulele makes people happy”. And when you create something that does that, it gives you a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.
Of course building ukes also gives Pepe another reason to hit up our North Shore waves. Our HMS storefront is so close to the North Shore’s most epic surf spots that we’re lucky enough to have our orders hand delivered each time he comes to visit the waves! Both Pepe and Corey, (seen playing in the video below), prefer to start their day with a surf session. My other favorite builder, Noa Bonk, is also a surfer. There must be something about the Pacific Ocean. The water, sand, cool breeze? It awakens your senses. I’ve asked Noa about this, and he replied, “Surfing makes you relaxed and happy”. Those qualities must help the zen-like focus that is required for creating beautiful things that make others “happy”.
Here, Pepe Romero has shrunk the classical guitar! It boasts a full body in the lower frequency range, where most ukes are non existent! Yet, it has crystal clean articulation. A reverb type sustain comes out as you attack the higher range, reminding me of the high notes on a grand piano.
Not many people can say they own a Pepe Romero ukulele. But within less than two years they have gotten a lot of notoriety. Some musicians owning a Pepe Romero ukulele that you may have heard of include, Daniel Ho, Jake Shimabukuro, Eddie Vedder, Paula Fuga, and Jack Johnson. Ever heard of them?
So, how do I feel about Pepe Romero’s ukuleles? I can best explain this by sharing with you something I just read.
My friend Jerry Turney makes the most superb leather uke straps money can buy. He recently ordered another great ukulele from us. Knowing his wisdom and insight into psychology, I asked him- what triggers someone like yourself to spend a lot on an ukulele? He wrote me earlier today and this was included in the email,
“It is really the equivalent to our cultural dating tradition which allows us to find that perfect mate. The resulting special attraction and bond are much the same emotion that we find with the perfect spouse, the love we feel when we watch our children sleep and other special relationships in our lives. People today live hectic lives in an impersonal, unforgiving world and their families and their music are an important refuge from the insanity.”
So getting back to my question of how I felt about Pepe Romero ukulele. I love them! I am confident we are showing our customers more than just an instrument that makes nice sounds. A Pepe Romero is special- a musical soul mate, a “refuge from the insanity”.
When we get ukes like this they go up at The Ukulele Site and don’t last long. Check in there and find rare gems like this!
Great article and appropriate recognition is given to Pepe Romero Jr. I am one of the few, the fortunate and the proud………..to own a Pepe ukuele, Pepe’s 1st ever sold ukulele, #3, following ukuleles he made for his wife and daughter…………a Brazilian with spruce top with Peg Head tuners…light as a feather with explosive sound…………..
I’ve only had 24 hours to play and assess my new Pepe Romero Grand Tenor ukulele but one thing I can say without equivocation is that the gig bag it came in is dangerous. I think the uke would be safer in a gunny sack.
When laid down into the bag the bottom of the instrument’s head plate contacts the bottom of the bag before the neck support contacts the neck so that the instrument is supported in the bag by the instrument itself rather than the other way around.