Imua Ukulele

imua tenor 2Imua is a new ukulele company located in Honolulu, Hawaii. Jorma Winkler heads the company. His family has been wood cutter’s for many years, and a few years ago Jorma decided to cross over and use the koa for ukes. This became Honu and Big Island Ukulele. Jorma had these made overseas, Vietnam I believe, with Hawaiian woods he provided. Now Jorma has started ukulele production in Honolulu making beauties like you see to your left. He called the new brand, Imua.

This Hawaiian tenor pictured is an instrument that we bought at the 2013 NAMM show. It’s labeled “iT” retailing for $1179. But as you can see, it’s figured like the curly wood upgrade model which retails for $380 more. And it would easily pass for the premium koa wood model, and those are up to $1779 with no other difference.  So we bought it. We haven’t added the line, but I gotta say,

I really like the design. It’s traditional enough, yet the rounded neck and tail block, along with curved headstock edges gives it a smooth modern flow. I also like the logo concept, abalone dot inside the mother of pearl line, very clean. My personal opinion, the stock Hilo strings aren’t really doing it any favors. The Worth CT with a wound low G is what you can see in the pictures. I thought it was sweeter, just my opinion.
Imua ukes are designed by Shinji Takahashi. A classical builder from Japan. These are somewhat conservative in construction, but built with proper luthier techniques, and I don’t doubt they’ll last a lifetime. They have the “open pore” gloss finish where the final coats aren’t sanded and buffed, so it’s not that glassy perfect type of gloss, but it can look nice and is common to the islands.

I think Imua will continue to grow as a company.  They have a lot going for them, namely that they’re a Hawaiian ukulele company striving for efficiency and excellence, and there’s always a place for that.
A’ hui ho’ from HMS. Any thoughts on Imua at first glance?

Comments 8

  1. A really gorgeous instrument! It’s great to see Winkler get into this Hawaiian made line of premium ukes, seems like a natural thing for him to do, being a woodcutter and all. Andrew, you have a lot of great videos on your site. One that is missing is showing the steps from finding a proper Koa tree, cutting it, then milling steps. That would be very interesting and Winkler is the guy to help you get that footage, just a thought.

  2. It ‘looks’ pretty good at first glance but I don’t like the logo. To me it lacks an ‘island’ look in fact looks more corporate and is lacklustre. It’s also too small. The rest of the uke looks good but I’ll stick with my top end Lanikai, limited edition Kala and my KoAloha.

    I’d like to hear sound samples so will wait for that.
    Keep pluckin’

  3. Beautiful ‘ukulele, as my Honu Koa bari was. Unfortunately the Honu was the worst uke I’ve ever owned. The wood shrank so much the neck twisted, the top bowled and the sides actually pulled in and away from the top and bottom due to shrinkage. Honu didn’t stand behind the product and only offered an expensive repair quote. A local luthier I took it to said it was unrepairable — a basket case, so I just look at it as a loss. As a comparison, I had one similar but much less severe problem with a Pono a couple of years back and they had a replacement on the way to me so fast I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t consider this new uke from the maker of Honu. Even though it isn’t technically a Honu the maker is the same and my experience with the maker wasn’t a good one. Pono won my future business with their customer service and Honu lost mine with theirs. BTW, I own a high-end Kanile’a tenor, 3 Ponos and 3 Kalas so instrument care/humidifying on my part was not an issue.

  4. Looks and sounds pretty, though the low G seemes to overpower the higher strings a bit. I agree with Jay – the logo looks, well, lame. Though, the K company that wood burns their logo into the headstock is rather unappealing in an above $1K instrument, too.

    After seeing IMUA advertised on the Web and reading their promos I was real interested in a review from a qualified source. HMS definitely qualifies! Thanks guys.

    (That funky logo would likely keep my from buying one, though , along with the risk of making a significant investment in an unproven brand.)

  5. Just ordered a imua concert. I suspect (yes, that’s all I can do) it’s gonna be very nice. I love the looks of ther ukulele line – very traditional and I love their LOGO, it’s discrete, subtle, yet distinctive and to the point! Love it! It’s ’different’ and sticks in your mind.
    I’m hoping it’s gonna sound like a Kamaka or close to it. Kamaka needs a real competitor; it will make our uke world more exciting.

    1. Post

      Congrats, have fun! Kamaka makes wonderful ukes but they have had real competitors for years. Namely KoAloha and Kanilea.

      1. I concur, Kamaka has been having real competition for years – I should have been more clear in what I meant with that, which is: covering the headstock and looking at the rest of the ukes, the Kamakas and Imuas look similar. Not so with the Kanileas, Koalohas and Koolaus. I’ve never owned a Koolau or Koaloha but I did have a Kanilea for quite some time. Kanileas are beautiful instruments, in sound and looks. But as far as looks, Imuas and Kamakas are close. For those folks looking for that particular feature, Kamaka has serious competition. That’s actually what I was thinking when I said that. All four Ks are excellent ukuleles, no doubt in my mind about that.

  6. Hi all. I still say the logo on the Imua uke is pretty miserable. It has no bearing on anything Hawaiian and just looks corporate. It is small and insignificant and needs something actually Hawaiian on it. At the mo’ it just looks Korean or Chinese. Sure the finish is nice but any country can do that.
    I am not saying they should change the logo, maybe add to it in some form or other. That’s just my view.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *