Luthiers

Discover the artisans who build production and custom ukuleles

This is the place to be if you’re looking to find and/or learn more about the companies and individual luthiers who currently build ‘ukuleles. While we’ve tried to be complete with this list, if you find builders we’re missing, please reach out and let us know!

Luthier Locations

USA - Hawaii

(Sorted Alphabetically)

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DeVine (Kula, Maui)

Eric DeVine was born in the small town of Woodinville, about 40 minutes east of Seattle. Growing up in a construction family, Eric was taught the art of working with his hands at a very young age. Acquiring such skills as woodworking, operating heavy equipment and mechanics, Eric was always hungry for knowledge and trying to improve upon the traditional ways of art and design.

 Even though Eric enjoyed the challenge and hard work of construction, he sought a more creative way of expressing himself. On his 13th birthday, Eric received his first guitar, and so began his obsession with music and how it was made. Although Eric has always had a profound love for all types of music, his constant desire to understand how things work eventually led him to dismantle his guitar only to examine it and put it back together again. 

This need to understand how music and sound worked would change the way Eric looked at music for ever. Eric moved to Kona, Hawaii in 1996 after growing increasingly tired of working outdoors through the winters in the Pacific northwest. As most people that visit or come to Hawaii, Eric immediately fell in love with the ukulele and the sounds and lifestyle of the islands. 

Eric, still working in the construction trade, eventually traded in his Electric guitar for his first ukulele. Coming from the dark and grungy music explosion of Seattle in the 90’s, Eric was inspired by the laidback styles of ukulele and slack key guitar and eventually started building instruments.

Grimes (Kula, Maui)

Music and woodworking are two very different types of “performing” arts. Being both a woodworker and a working musician in 1972, I found myself fascinated by the prospect of combining these two professions. After studying with a violin maker and working in the instrument repair trade, I set up my own shop in Seattle, Washington, USA and began making arch top mandolins. For the first two years I made mandolins exclusively, subsidizing my new venture by doing repairs on all types of string instruments. When I was able to increase production of new instruments and get them into the hands of some good players, I was finally able to devote myself fully to building new instruments.

1982 also was the year I moved my shop from Port Townsend, Washington to its present location in Kula, Hawaii. At approximately 4000 feet on the dry, leeward slopes of Mt. Haleakala, I found the perfect location to build instruments. Without the seasonal fluctuations in temperature and humidity, climate stability and conditioning in the shop were made much easier.

Grimes Guitars is a relatively small shop producing instruments slowly and meticulously by hand. Close attention to detail, such as tuning top and back plates, often missing in production guitars, is fundamental in each instrument. The advantage to building a few instruments at a time from start to finish is being able to control the response and tonal characteristics as each instrument progresses. This process takes time, and a commitment to achieving the fullest tonality and vibrance the wood has to offer. About twenty guitars are produced in the shop annually.

I'iwi (Kapolei, HI)

I`iwi Ukuleles are handcrafted in Kapolei, Hawai`i by master luthier Charles Fukuba. Created in 1995, Fukuba strived to produce quality instruments ranging from sopranos, concert, and tenor ukuleles.

I’iwi is among the most highly-regarded custom instruments you can get. For the last 20 years the majority have gone off to Japan but we are truly excited to start showing you many more I’iwi ukuleles. Not because they are made in Hawaii and feature beautiful woods and designs, but because they sound SO great!

Charlie Fukuba is a musician first and foremost and he builds for tone. His craftsmanship is excellent and the inlay is super cool, but we love I’iwi for the tone. Such a warm, clear sound that plays true all the way up the neck.

Ko'olau (Wahiawa, Oahu)

Our family history of making and restoring stringed instruments began 40 years ago. In addition to making instruments, we specialized in the repair and restoration of acoustic and electric guitars, mandolins, ukuleles, violins, and almost every other imaginable stringed instrument. Then about twenty five years ago we decided to focus more on manufacturing, especially ukuleles. ‘Ukuleles were always popular in Hawaii, and eventually throughout the world. And now there is a demand for higher quality. Our goal from the beginning was to produce the most professional quality stringed instrument possible, regardless of the time and cost required. And so, Ko‘olau guitars and ‘ukuleles were born.

Compared to most other brands, our first Ko‘olau instruments were expensive. We wanted to be proud of what we made, and we wanted them to last forever. And we refused to cut corners. So except for a few realistic musicians who were seeking a high quality ‘ukulele, we had a limited amount of customers. It was ok then, and ok now. One positive motivation was having some of the biggest “hitters” on our side. We were approached and eventually “endorsed” by three of the most respectable jazz ‘ukulele players in the world.

Moore Bettah (Pahoa, Hawaii)

A life long love affair with Hawaii and the South Pacific compelled me to move to the island of Moloka’i more than twenty years ago.  I was immediately captivated by the sights, the sounds, the people and the laid back atmosphere of this rural tropical paradise.  After extensively exploring the South Seas I knew that Hawaii was the place I had to be.

While I was continuing my career as a potter and making scrimshaw I took the opportunity of this radical change in geography and lifestyle to explore other forms of art that I had longed to do.With the abundance of tropical woods around me I decided to pursue wood carving and for a while I made sculptural and architectural pieces that wound up in many homes throughout Hawaii.

One day a local bruddah stopped by my shop with the biggest coconut I’d ever seen and in sing-song pigeon English said “Hey brah,you make me ukulele out of dis? The huge coconut he handed to me turned out to be of the “Samoan” variety which was pretty scarce where I lived but he kept me supplied with enough of them to turn out quite a few two or three nutted “coco-leles” for quite a while.These were relatively simple instruments though some had rosettes and hand carved tuning pegs of fossil walrus ivory (from my scrimshaw stash.

It wasn’t until I moved to the Big Island of Hawaii however that I decided to build ukuleles full time. After all, “the Big Island is where all the koa comes from” and what better homage to pay to this scarce and exotic wood than to create beautiful and wonderful sounding ukuleles from it.

Pegasus (Kurtistown, HI)

I started building instruments sometime in 1971. While hitch hiking home from University, I stopped by a folk music store in Felton Calif. In the store, Capritaurus, they were selling mountain dulcimer kits. I’m not sure why, but I bought one, assembled it, played it a bit, and eventually sold it to a friend who still has it.

That was the 1st and last kit I ever bought. Soon after the sale I began making dulcimers from scratch. After graduation from University in 1973, I left California, headed for Washington. While working there full time for the City of Seattle, I began selling my dulcimers at street fairs. In those days, street fairs were everywhere and there were many craftspeople selling their products. There was nothing from China! Before long I ventured out into making mandolins and in about 1974 I made my first guitars. Lutherie was very different then. No DVD’s, no u-Tube, no web searching for ideas or answers.I was totally hooked on luthierie though, and I found my own way of making instruments!

One day while working in Seattle in 1975, I met a person on a street corner waiting for the crosswalk light to change. That person, who I only remember as Joe, had a guitar case with him. We talked a bit and he opened his case to show me a guitar he had just made at at guitar building school in Tennessee, The Apprentice Shop.  3 weeks later I had quit my job and was off to Tennessee with my 5 year old son in tow. My 2 teachers there, Mike Lennon and Bruce Scotten were fantastic people. Super motivated and great teachers. From them I learned the foundations of guitar building and repair. That was early 1976 and I’ve never looked back.

Since that time I’ve had repair and building shops in Washington State, Texas, and several locations in Hawaii. I’ve travelled a lot to attend intensive seminars such as archtop guitar building with Tom Ribbecke in Calif., classical building with Jose Romanillos in Spain, inlay with Grit Laskin in Indiana, and many lutherie conventions and symposiums throughout the U.S. I have also been guest lecturer at those U.S. conventions and symposium. Most recently I have been doing something new, teaching lap steel guitar building at steel guitar and Hawaiian music camps throughout Hawaii.

I have also helped with organizing ukulele guilds and woodworking on Hawaii Island and Oahu.
Along the way I have repaired thousands, no exaggeration, of instruments of all types. I also continued my building, making guitars, ukuleles, harps, mandolins, dulcimers, as well as some very weird custom orders. My wife Anne and I also ran a wholesale music supply business under the name Hilo Strings. In the 1990’s we sought to improve on the then available ukulele string sets. Hilo Strings became a respected name and we sold tens of thousands of sets of strings. A few years ago, although Hilo Strings were still much in demand, we closed that business. We always sought to give our customers the very best service and product we could, and that is not just something I’m saying. We lived the business! We decided not to sell the name or business, because we did  not want to see something we had created become what we might not like at the hands of others.

We still continue with part of what was Hilo Strings, and we supply wholesale parts like tuning machines, pickups, and custom parts that I make for builders. At 72, I do admit that it’s winding down a bit. Hard to change from the routine of a life’s work! Possibly more to follow!

USA - Hawaii - "K Brands"

(Sorted Alphabetically)

Kamaka (Honolulu, Oahu)

Shortly after the turn of the century, Samuel Kaialiilii Kamaka began crafting Koa wood ukuleles from the basement of his Kaimuki, Hawaii home. In 1916, he formed his one-man shop, “Kamaka Ukulele and Guitar Works,” and soon established a solid reputation for making only the highest quality ukuleles.

In 1921, Kamaka Ukulele established a shop at 1814 South King Street. In the mid-20s, Sam Kamaka laid out a pattern for a new oval-shaped ukulele body. His friends remarked that it looked like a pineapple, so one of Sam’s artist friends painted the front to duplicate the tropical fruit. A few years later in 1928, Sam Kamaka patented the design. Thus began the original Pineapple Ukulele, which produced a resonant, mellow sound distinct from the traditional figure-eight. The Pineapple Ukulele became an instant success worldwide, and continues to be Kamaka’s signature ukulele to this day.

During the 30s, Sam Sr. introduced his two sons, Samuel Jr. and Frederick, to the craft of ukulele-making, even though the boys were only in elementary school. In 1945, the business was reorganized as “Kamaka and Sons Enterprises.” Sam Jr. and Fred Sr. were then drafted into the Army, and after serving in WWII, both brothers attended college on the GI bill. After graduating from Washington State University, Fred Sr. began a career in the Army, while Sam Jr. earned a masters degree and went on to pursue a doctorate in entomology at Oregon State University.

In 1952, due to illness, Sam Sr. went into semi-retirement and hauled his equipment to his Lualualei Homestead farm in Waianae. When he became seriously ill the following year, Sam Jr. moved back to Hawaii to care for his father. Sam Sr. died in December 1953, after hand-crafting koa ukuleles for over 40 years.

Immediately following Sam Sr.’s death, Sam Jr. put aside his personal career aspirations to continue the family business. Building on the knowledge he had picked up from his father, Sam Jr. restored the factory at the previous 1814 S. King Street location. In 1959, the company expanded to its current location at 550 South Street.

The ukulele has long been a part of Hawaii history and also a legacy for our family. In 1968 Kamaka and Sons incorporated and then became “Kamaka Hawaii, Inc.” After retiring from the Army in 1972, Fred Sr. joined the business as its general manager. Along the way, Sam Jr.’s sons, Chris and Casey, also got involved with the company as did Fred Sr.’s son, Fred Jr. Together the sons now play major roles at Kamaka Hawaii, Inc.: Chris is the production manager, Casey crafts the custom orders, and Fred Jr. is the business manager. Other young family members are also helping with the business, carrying the Kamaka tradition into the fourth generation.

As the Kamaka legacy moves forward, it is important to reflect on what has made the company endure. The guiding philosophy at Kamaka Hawaii has always been the candid, but sensible advice handed down from Sam Sr. to sons “If you make instruments and use the family name, don’t make junk,” he said.

Kanile'a (Kaneohe, Oahu)

Five generations ago, in Madeira, Portugal, the Souza Family was playing a musical instrument called the Braguinha.  When the Braguinha (the ancestor of the ‘ukulele) was brought to Hawai’i by Portuguese immigrants in 1879, the Souza Family followed suit.

Joe Souza grew up with the ‘ukulele played kanikapila-style, family and friends sitting around singing and playing at the beach or at home.  In 1990 Joe was working as a firefighter, was given the opportunity to apprentice under the late Peter “Uncle Pete” Bermudez, master luthier.  As Joe continued polishing his skills in playing and now crafting the ‘ukulele, he met and married the lovely Kristen.  Shortly after purchasing their first house together, Joe set up his ‘ukulele shop, bought a bandsaw, and Kristen joined him to found Kanile’a ‘Ukulele in 1998.  Born literally in a garage.  In 2006, Kanile’a had outgrown the garage and Joe and Kristen moved the shop to its current location where we continue to innovate and implement state-of-the-art machinery and practices.

We now arrive to 2022, 24 years later, the company has continued to grow expanding from a 500 square foot garage to two physical locations with over 14,000 housing a team of 22 employees across factory, office, retail, storage, and a recording studio.  We are blending tradition with technology and introducing never before seen features on an ʻukulele.  With the trademarked TRU-R Bracing and “Super” ʻukulele moniker describing the Super Soprano, Super Concert, and Super Tenor.  The TRU-Bevel in 2015 along with the ultra thin slotted headstock.  Then revolutionizing the industry again with the TRU-Armrest in 2017.  To finally making the industryʻs first Pineapple Shaped Tenor ʻukulele in 2019.  Leading to 2021 with the uber innovative TRU-Relief, bending the soundboard to create the most comfortable ʻukulele in the world.  All of this made in Hawaiʻi as the only Hawaiian manufacturer to process ALL of our own wood pieces in house.  No outsourcing of necks or fretboards or bracing material… we source raw logs and process every piece in house to ensure quality and longevity of every workpiece.

We hope you feel like being apart of our ʻohana as we are committed to the players and people of the world, for every ʻukulele we build we commit to planting one Koa tree for it to live itʻs life out in a native Hawaiian forest.

Koaloha (Honolulu, Oahu)

When it comes to family run businesses KoAloha ukuleles may be one of the most familial of them all. Even the employees who are not biologically related to Alvin “Pops” and Pat “Moms” Okami soon end up part of the family. The series of fortuitous events and coincidences that led Alvin to discover his true calling, building ukuleles, is almost as inspirational as the family itself.

Alvin Okami is an innovator, inventor, singer, and accomplished multi-instrumentalist who composes his own songs and has released several CDs, including Beautiful Days (2014). After a brief career performing with Hawaiian musician Herb “Ohta-san” Ohta Sr., Okami launched a factory specializing in plastics that manufactured a series of devices he invented. At first he was very successful, but as the cost of raw materials rose, his profit margins dropped, and he found his company losing money.

He was desperate to find another way to earn a living when Ohta-san, whom he hadn’t seen in many years, dropped by. In conversation, the friend mentioned that Japanese tourists at his sister’s souvenir shop had been asking for miniature ukuleles to bring home.

“The idea was so persistent it wouldn’t leave me alone,” Okami says in the award-wining short film The KoAloha Ukulele Story. However, Okami had no idea how to build the miniature playable ukes, complete with real tuning pegs that he envisioned. One day he went to his closed shop all alone to brainstorm, and a lost jewelery manufacturers’ rep just happened to knock on the door. Just the right guy, at the right moment, to provide the tiny tools he needed.

According to Okami, there have been lots of moments like that one. “I know that it was devine intervention,” concludes Okami. In fact, when people refer to him as the founder of KoAloha ukuleles he’s quick to point out that he’s just “an instrument of the man upstairs.”

Family ties are strong in Hawaii, and especially in the Okami family. So despite some initial reservations about making ukuleles Okami’s sons, Alan and Paul, joined him in the business. Soon they began making high quality full-size ukuleles.

The Okami’s have become accomplished luthiers and their instruments are now sought-after worldwide. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015, Alan is now president of the company, Paul is vice president and master luthier, Pat “Moms” Okami is treasurer, and Alvin holds the title senior vice president.

But the Okami family’s success—building some of the most beautiful, best sounding, and most sought after ukuleles on the market—is not the end of the story. The Okami’s are known for their giving and their tireless efforts in the community, including building ukuleles with children in impoverished areas of Hawaii.

“One day, back in 1995, the thought came to me, why don’t I just start giving,” Okami says, explaining how he gifted a ukulele to a neighbor with little means. “The joy that I saw in the expression on his face said it all.”

“We are all of the same spirit, even though we were in a position not to give, we continued to give,” he says. “I know many people say that, when you give, you receive. We don’t give, so that we can receive; we give out of a heart of compassion, love for our fellow man, and we let the almighty take care of the rest.”

“We actually donate more ukuleles than perhaps any one of our salaries per year. We aren’t giving from any type of motive except the essence of pure philanthropy,” he says. “We are giving out of the abundance that we now have, but when we didn’t have [abundance], we still gave. What began as a small gesture, blossomed into a beautiful thing. Giving will always be a part of KoAloha. Without giving, I don’t think we could survive, it’s that important to KoAloha”

Ko'olau (Wahiawa, Oahu)

Our family history of making and restoring stringed instruments began 40 years ago. In addition to making instruments, we specialized in the repair and restoration of acoustic and electric guitars, mandolins, ukuleles, violins, and almost every other imaginable stringed instrument. Then about twenty five years ago we decided to focus more on manufacturing, especially ukuleles. ‘Ukuleles were always popular in Hawaii, and eventually throughout the world. And now there is a demand for higher quality. Our goal from the beginning was to produce the most professional quality stringed instrument possible, regardless of the time and cost required. And so, Ko‘olau guitars and ‘ukuleles were born.

Compared to most other brands, our first Ko‘olau instruments were expensive. We wanted to be proud of what we made, and we wanted them to last forever. And we refused to cut corners. So except for a few realistic musicians who were seeking a high quality ‘ukulele, we had a limited amount of customers. It was ok then, and ok now. One positive motivation was having some of the biggest “hitters” on our side. We were approached and eventually “endorsed” by three of the most respectable jazz ‘ukulele players in the world.

USA - Mainland

(Sorted Alphabetically)

Beansprout (Hood River, OR)

Aaron and Nicole Keim live in Hood River, Oregon with their son Henry, building instruments, playing music, writing books, making art and embracing a hands-on life.  Aaron started Beansprout in 2007 with Heidi and Rob Litke Red Sands Ukulele in Broomfield, Colorado. They made 100+ instruments before Aaron moved to Oregon to work for Mya-Moe Ukuleles in 2011.

While at Mya-Moe under the guidance of Gordon and Char Mayer, Aaron’s building skills blossomed while he learned the importance of customer service and keeping a focused shop schedule.  Most importantly, they gave Aaron the opportunity to work on the 2000+ instruments that Mya-Moe put out over these years.  In the meantime, Aaron developed an interest in domestic/local/salvaged woods, vintage woodworking equipment and traditional hand woodworking techniques.

Since re-launching Beansprout, Aaron has consistently produced instruments that play easily and sound great in addition to being carefully built pieces of folk art.  Aaron and Nicole continue to perform and teach worldwide and publish books as The Quiet American. Nicole also makes art as Marmalade Creations.

Coast (Petaluma, CA)

Coast ‘Ukulele is the Coast Family. Luthier Kawai Carvalho and two little luthiers Kaipo & Nahele Coast.

Kawai was born and raised on the island of Oahu in Hawai‘i and grew up with Hawaiian music all around. But, it wasn’t until a trip to visit family in Hawai‘i much later in life did the Coast family get their first ‘ukulele.

Jump ahead to 2020 and Coast ‘Ukulele was started in a garage in Petaluma, CA. Part as a hobby to better understand how this magical instrument works and part as a way to keep busy during a pandemic. From the very first moment of building the first Coast ‘Ukulele, Kawai knew right away this was such a beautiful way to spread aloha.

Coast ‘Ukulele is also very much eb Troast. Partner to Kawai and mama to Kaipo & Nahele. (Carvalho + Troast = Coast!) eb is the heart of Coast ‘Ukulele and there really would be no Coast without her beautiful kindness and loving support.
In early 2021 when eb and Kawai were expecting their third child, eb passed away suddenly. Through these incredibly challenging times, which also included losing our home and job, ‘ukulele building is what kept this family going. Building ‘ukuleles was a way for Kawai, Kaipo, & Nahele to connect as a family and connect with our Hawaiian & Portuguese ancestry. For Kawai building ‘ukuleles is a completely calming energy and a way to channel grief. The Coast Family puts all of our love for eb into every ‘ukulele we build and we still do.

Cornerstone (Westminster, CA)

Marreiros embarked on his lutherie journey in the late 90’s. In those beginning years he built a few electric guitars. In 2003 he was inspired to build an acoustic guitar. During this process he realized this was his true passion. The demands of building an acoustic guitar were far greater and spawned deeper levels of creativity and detailed workmanship. 

Little did Peter know that same year he would meet legendary luthier, Kevin  Ryan where both sons were playing little league baseball together. Their friendship grew and Kevin’s meticulous mastery and artistry became a goal for Peter’s builds. Peter’s attention to detail pushed him to build high quality instruments that were aesthetically stunning, uniquely designed, and embodied a strong musically appealing tone.

Peter’s interest for Ukuleles was sparked during a visit to one of his friends in the winter of 2018 and coincidentally a trip to Hawaii in February of 2019 further enhanced his interest for the small happy instrument.

Pairing years of guitar building experience with his new found love is what drives this builder to push the boundaries of lutherie with a vision to build a ukulele like no other.

“It is with passion and love that a Cornerstone Ukulele is created. Each of my ukuleles is handcrafted and every instrument is a labor of love and dedication. My desire is for my passion to fuel yours…”

DaSilva (Berkeley, CA)

DaSilva Ukulele Co. makes ukuleles in all sizes including standard soprano, concert, tenor and baritone scale lengths.  Our proven body shapes include original designs in the typical ukulele shapes as well as pineapple shapes, and exact reproductions of Martin body shapes and detailed copies of Dias and Santo (ca. 1890) soprano instruments.  The size and shape of the ukulele certainly is one of the major design factors for how it will sound.

DaSilva Ukulele Co. builds instruments only with the highest quality, well-seasoned, well-quartered and perfectly prepared tonewoods.  Our wood stocks are some of the best amongst custom builders which allows us to easily select a special and unique set for your instrument.  While it certainly is possible to fashion a ukulele out of just about any wood these days, we refuse to sacrifice instrument tone and volume for a certain look.  We believe in order to build the best sounding instrument possible, the wood choice should not unduly restrict the possibilities.  In order to maximize our knowledge and experience with wood, we have begun to scientifically measure and test each species and even specific wood sets to fully understand an instruments resulting tonal characteristics.  Coupled with the hands-on experience of Michael DaSilva personally selecting, thicknessing and flexing and tap-tone testing over 300 instruments allows us deliver the maximum dynamic range for any instrument.

I view an instrument as a system of components.  When each component is optimized, the system often produces something greater than the sum of the parts.  If one part is not quite right, usually that is not enough to create a bad result, but it does insure that it is not the best.  With that in mind, I approach the building of ukuleles with one thing in mind, in that, “everything matters”.  Be assured, that in getting a DaSilva ukulele, that each process and each part was consciously considered the best I could produce as it became part of the instrument.

Hannam (Grand Junction, CO)

It is my pleasure to be able to share a little about myself, my inspirations and building philosophy and how these are focused into each instrument I create in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

In 2002 I began what would become my luthiery career at Gilet Guitars School of Luthiery in Sydney, Australia. Under the guidance of master luthier of 40 years Gerard Gilet, I was educated in the ‘hows and whys’ of every aspect of instrument building from selecting the very best tonewoods and top voicing, to the development and realization of a customer’s vision and a perfect setup. In short, from the very beginning I was totally immersed in every aspect of truly custom guitar making.

In the mid 2000’s I was invited to join the Gilet fold first in a teaching capacity for new students, then as a full time luthier of Gilet Guitars. Between four luthiers, we crafted only 35 high quality guitars a year, each being an individual expression of creativity and workmanship with no ‘fixed’ appointments at any stage. It is this fundamental principle of creativity and exquisite craftsmanship that I have continued with since moving to Grand Junction, Colorado in 2013.

Hive (Wheeling, WV)

Handcrafted by Jake Maclay, Hive Ukuleles exhibit the philosophy of his craft: exquisite tone and superb playability manifest in each instrument’s artful beauty. sound born of superior craftsmanship, shaping a deep resonance from flawless intonation.

After graduating from the Robert-Venn School of Luthiery in the spring of 2005, Jake moved to Santa Cruz, California to work for Master Luthier Rick Turner and his business partner Barry Pearlman. Immersed in the prolific environment that bore Compass Rose Ukuleles and Renaissance Guitars, Jake has honed the building principals that define his work today.

Lichty (Tryon, NC)

In our small shop tucked into the foothills of the NC Blue Ridge Mountains Jay builds custom handmade acoustic guitars, ukuleles, fiddles and violas. One of the first questions he often gets is, “How did you become a guitar builder?”

His journey into luthiery came on the heels of a thirty-five year career as a custom home builder and carpenter. His love of playing music combined with these skills made for a natural transition into custom guitar and ukulele building.
What started as a hobby, building ukuleles out of the garage, hit overdrive once Jay built his first guitar under the guidance of Virginia luthier, Wayne Henderson. In fact, the day he finished that first guitar was the day he began building the workshop.

Over the years Jay has studied with mentors Ervin Somogyi, Charles Fox and Tom Ribbecke. With well over 300 instruments under his belt Jay continues to develop his craft.

In Jays words, “I have a deep respect for the builders and methods, both contemporary and past, but I also love to push the envelope by exploring new design ideas and wood selections. I feel each instrument has its own life and spirit. I typically build one at a time with the goal of helping each to reach its full potential. To me, full potential translates into an instrument that is exciting to all of the senses. I take pride in the fact that our ukuleles and guitars are enjoyed and played both professionally and by hobbyists all over the world.”

LoPrinzi (Clearwater, FL)

What makes an instrument offer up something that is more than simply a sound?

Those who are lucky enough to own a LoPrinzi know–it’s that almost indescribable element found in only the finest instruments. Perhaps it’s the luthier’s skill in releasing the heart-sound of the tonewood. It may be the result of decades of old-world skills, honed to the highest level of craftsmanship combined with art. It could be the care and full attention given to each instrument being created, no matter if it’s a fine guitar or ukulele. Come discover the LoPrinzi difference by visiting with us on this site. You’ll find that we approach instrument building as a blending of luthier skills, knowledge and art. That’s when you’ll realize that a LoPrinzi is not only among the finest in handmade instruments, but a modern instrument with a legacy as rich as its sound.
Then, when you’re ready to try the finest, stop by or contact one of our distinguished dealers, or make an appointment to visit our showroom. Tell your LoPrinzi dealer what you’re looking for in your next instrument and let them guide you to one of our designs or create an instrument custom made for your playing style and sound. We’re proud to
partner with some of the finest guitarists and ukulele players in the world–as well as those who simply appreciate the best.

What we do and what we offer

We handcraft three different styles of instruments: Classical Guitars, Steel String Guitars and Ukuleles. While each of these types of fretted instruments differ in construction and playing requirements, the common features of LoPrinzi instruments are their eminent playability, rich sound, exquisite finish and attention to detail.

Every LoPrinzi instrument:

  • Represents a tremendous value.
  • Is made entirely in the United States by Augustino and Donna
  • Embodies the culmination of more than 50 years of instrument design & crafting.
  • Is responsive, attractive, durable–and guaranteed.

Martin (Nazareth, PA)

Over one-hundred years ago, in 1917, C. F. Martin & Co. published its first ukulele pamphlet, announcing the company’s newest instrument to the general public and its entire network of music stores, teachers, and players. To say that Martin’s ukuleles were a success is a major understatement. In 1917 alone, Martin sold nearly 2,000 ukuleles, which was roughly the same number of guitars and mandolins it had sold in the previous ten years combined. This year, Martin is celebrating its 100th anniversary of publicly offering ukuleles, with a beautiful new display in its museum in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, as well as with two new Centennial ukulele models. A rich history defines the proliferation of the ukulele, as well as Martin’s legacy in its manufacturing.

In the summer of 1915, Martin began experimenting with ukulele construction. In October of that year, the company shipped its first two ukuleles out on a special order to a music teacher in Trenton, New Jersey. Soon Martin was sending large numbers of ukuleles to two New York retailers, Ditson and William J. Smith. In 1916, Martin saw the demand for its ukuleles increase greatly, and although Smith and Ditson were its biggest customers, orders stated to come in from around the country, despite the fact that Martin had not yet advertised this new product or added it to the catalog.

When Martin produced its first ukulele pamphlet in 1917, soprano ukuleles were featured in three models: Style 1, Style 2, and Style 3. The Style 1 is described in that first ukulele pamphlet as “a neat and durable instrument.” It featured a 12-fret fingerboard and a mahogany body bound on top in rosewood. The Style 2 was almost identical to the Style 1, the only difference being the white celluloid binding around the top and back. The Style 3 was the original top-of-the-line Martin ukulele. It featured wider white and black celluloid binding on the top and back and around the sound hole. There were also black and white stripes inlayed down the center of the extended, 17-fret fretboard. In addition, a celluloid ornament was inlayed on the bottom edge of the top of the body below the bridge, and another kite-shaped piece of celluloid was inlayed on the headstock. All three models featured wooden friction pegs.

In 2013, Martin created its first-ever Commemorative Custom Artist Ukulele, the 1T IZ, in honor of the Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.

In 2017, Martin introduced two new limited edition ukulele models made to celebrate the 100th anniversary of producing ukuleles. The Style 1 and Style 3 Centennial ukuleles commemorate Martin’s vintage ukulele models, and each is limited to a run of just 100 instruments. The Style 1 Centennial ukulele is produced in Mexico and features a darker stain and no headstock decal, both features of 1920s-era Style 1 ukuleles. The Style 3 Centennial ukulele includes standard Style 3 adornments, and adds an inlayed celluloid “kite” on the headstock, a feature last seen on Style 3 ukuleles of the late teens and very early 1920s.

Martin’s 100 years of ukulele production has been a roller-coaster ride featuring peaks where the company was overwhelmed with demand and valleys where production completely ceased. However, the Martin legacy lies with ukulele players around the world who agree that, throughout its history, the company has produced some of the finest ukuleles in existence.

Pat Megowan (Corvallis, OR)

In grade school I was a guitarist. I didn’t actually know any chords, because we played broomsticks rather than real guitars, but we rocked the Monkees and I could sing all the tunes (until my voice changed). I was mesmerized by my brother Blair’s LPs, with their visceral music and trippy cover art – Santana, Led Zeppelin, the Moody Blues, Credence.

I was also starting to backpack, and this must have distracted me, because it didn’t occur to me to get a real guitar until my little sister did first! I immediately went to Heck Music Co., bought the same model (a $35 classical), and joined the same folk group.

Soon there was a steel string Aria, then a Fender Precision Bass, a Gibson Melody Maker, an SG, a Martin D-35, and finally…YES!…a wine red Les Paul. With an uncertain baritone voice, my bandmates told me to shut up and play, and so I did: hard rock, Southern rock, folk, worship music, funk, soul–even the soaring lead to the Theme From Rocky at a huge outdoor concert, a heady (and never repeated) stadium moment.

I started tinkering with instruments, using tools from years of making intricate wood models, but a traumatic experience changed that course. Here is a blog post about how I started in lutherie, detoured into furniture making, and finally came back.

The detour turned out to be a blessing. Along the way I studied at James Krenov’s fine furniture program at the College of the Redwoods, the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine, and with several other stellar makers, which brought breadth, rigor, and refinement to my already detail oriented sensibility.

Generous members of the lutherie community then helped me integrate these decades of music and woodworking, particularly Jeff Elliott, Lynn Dudenbostel, Woodley White, Tom Harper, and John Greven. These teachers, along with helpful dealers and players, also exposed me to some of the finest instruments and craftsmanship in existence–an inspiration and challenge every day in the shop.

Likewise, many fine performers and music educators have been generous with their guidance and encouragement, among them Anne Loewen, James Hill, Peter Luongo, Suz Doyle, Kimo Hussey, Corey Fujimoto, Arden Fujiwara, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, Philip Griffin, Abe Lagrimas, Jason Arimoto, Daniel Ho, Daniel Ward, Kevin Carroll, Sarah Maisel and Craig Chee, and Steve Einhorn. They have opened my eyes to the (sometimes completely unexpected) potential of these instruments.

I am deeply indebted to my teachers and mentors; some are renowned masters, others less well-known, and a good number wouldn’t think of themselves as teachers at all, but all have been wonderful and influential in my life.

Mya-Moe (Glenview, IL)

I’m Cary Kelly, owner and luthier of Mya-Moe. After working extensively during 2018 with Gordon and Char Mayer, the founders and original luthiers of Mya-Moe, I am thrilled to be continuing the tradition of building custom handcrafted ukuleles. My background, aside from paying gigs in the worlds of technology and finance, has been in woodworking as a personal passion. Several years ago, I also became very excited about the ukulele. I was first introduced to Mya-Moe as an owner (#1255 and #1808) and have always adored the tone and playablility of the instruments. The aesthetic beauty is a bonus.

When Gordon and Char announced their retirement and Gordon offered his equipment for sale, I approached him because I was ready to escape the world of finance and felt this was a perfect marriage of my two primary passions, woodworking and ukuleles. Initially, my intention was to build ukuleles under my own brand but after Gordon, Char and I had a chance to work together for awhile it became clear that we shared many of the same attributes, including a high attention to detail and a focus on quality. That’s when Gordon and Char approached me about continuing to build Mya-Moe ukuleles. I hesitated at first, because I wanted to be certain that my instruments would match the high standards already established by Mya-Moe. With over 150 instruments now under my belt, I’m happy to offer Mya-Moe ukuleles to future owners.

Fortunately for me, Gordon and Char Mayer have agreed to remain affiliated with Mya-Moe as chairpersons-emeritus. Their insightful guidance and ongoing support is greatly appreciated.

Oceana (Port Townsend, WA)

Oceana Ukuleles is owned and operated by Zacchaeus Steimle. In 1995, Zac traveled from his home in the Pacific North West to Ecuador to study Spanish and check out some South American waves (he learned to surf before learning to ride a bike!) While there he worked part time with a luthier in Quito, thus beginning his fantastical journey into musical instrument building.

In 2002 he returned to Ecuador with his wife Melody and their infant daughter to work with a community health project. They volunteered almost 8 years there helping under served people get medical attention as well as access to social support services. Their second daughter was born in the Amazon jungle region in 2005.

That same year, Zac met a master luthier that specialized in small stringed instruments.  Zac continued his luthier training with a 2-year apprenticeship specializing in ukuleles, learning the tradition and art that had been passed down from generation to generation.   With this experience, Zac created a ukulele design based on rich musical tradition.  A tradition that involved meticulously crafting instruments from start to finish with hand tools. This art takes both the skill and the well-trained ear of the luthier, a quality that cannot be extracted from the Internet or reproduced on a production line.

Currently Zac lives in Port Orchard, WA with his wife Melody and their two girls, Sequoia and Brisa. They are frequently on the road at festivals… hope to meet you there!

Ono (Ashland, OR)

In 2010, I picked up the ukulele after a lapse of many years. The next year I visited a luthier with the intention of ordering a custom instrument. He generously spent quite a bit of time showing me his shop and methods. I was irresistibly drawn to the building process and set out to build one on my own. Before hearing the siren of ukulele building, I had built sailboats and had also enjoyed the precise demands of machine work. This background has served me well. In fact, sailboats and ukuleles have two things in common: they both have to function well and nobody wants an ugly one.

Ono Ukuleles are handmade in my workshop in Ashland, Oregon. I allow myself the luxury of building at my own pace, so I can take all the time I need to achieve a level of quality that gives me great satisfaction.

J. Rieck (Sioux Falls, SD)

Seeing luthierie as a beautiful crossroad of music and visual art, Josh Rieck began studying the craft in 2002 at Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical in Red Wing, MN. After graduating with honors from the Guitar Repair and Construction course he moved back to his hometown, Aberdeen, SD and started String Theory Musical Instrument Repair and Custom Construction, performing guitar repair for local music shops while also beginning to build various acoustic and electric instruments.

Because of the local demand, Josh also began to work with violin family instruments while studying double bass performance degree at Northern State University. Double bass studies continued in 2007 at the University of South Dakota under Dr. Rick Rognstad, at which point the business also moved to Sioux Falls.

After completing his masters in 2009, Josh went full time in a newly expanded location in Sioux Falls. During the 2012-2013 academic year, Josh studied the history of musical instruments at the National Music Museum. 

As of 2016 the name of the business has changed to J. Rieck Lutherie – this reflects the shift in focus to primarily new instrument construction.

Pepe Romero Jr. (San Diego, CA)

Pepe Romero Jr. was born intoa family that lives the Spanish guitar.
From his childhood Pepe loved the guitar. He grew up playing some of the world’s greatest guitars from the incredible collection of his father. Growing up surrounded by guitars made by Torres, Esteso, Santos Hernandez, Hauser, and Miguel Rodriguez set the standard for how a guitar should be made.

At 18 years old Pepe went to the workshop of Dake Traphagen to build a guitar. Upon completion of this guitar, Pepe decided to dedicate himself to being a builder. In 1997, Pepe was lucky enough to spend time in the workshop of Miguel Rodriguez shortly before he passed away. He moved on to study with and receive guidance from J.L. Romanillos, Manuel Contreras II, Yuris Zeltins and Edmund Blöchinger. His studied most extensively with Edmund Blochinger who became his master teacher and great friend. They have made 2 guitars together.

Pepe is heavily influenced by the Rodriguez guitars. His style of building is very similar to Rodriguez. He is also inspired by the elegant look and beautiful sound of the guitars by Santos Hernandez and Domingo Esteso.

Pepe has built over 350 guitars and over 200 ukuleles. Each one is hand crafted and built in the traditional spanish method. His guitars are in great demand by concert guitarists and collectors worldwide. He has a waiting list of about 3-4 years for new guitars.

Pepe dedicates all of his guitars to his grandfather, Celedonio Romero.

After a family vacation to Hawaii in 2010, Pepe fell in love with the beautiful sound of the ukulele. Pepe has since been building ukuleles using his classical guitar building approach and techniques, creating ukuleles which closely resemble little classical guitars. In 2012 Pepe Co-Founded Romero Creations,  his high end production instrument company which aims to offer incredible sounding, playing and looking instruments that people will treasure for a lifetime.

In 2020 Pepe Romero and German master guitar builder, Wolfgang Jellinghause, teamed up to make “Guitarras Romero” which are a world class line of guitars designed by Romero and made by Jellinghause. These guitars are master grade instruments which are offered at student model prices.

Petros (Kaukauna, WI)

Since 1972, Bruce Petros has been a maker of unique, custom, handmade instruments for discerning players and collectors.

By meticulously constructing each instrument from the finest master-grade woods and using innovative techniques, their instruments are some of the most sought after in the world.

Matthew has been building along side his father since the year 2000. Building on a 40 year legacy of guitar making, they began building Ukuleles in 2012 and have fallen in love with the instrument, the people and the process.

Stansell (Pistol River, OR)

Les Stansell combines a traditional Spanish Classic design with Port Orford Cedar (Oregon Lawson Cypress). Living on the South Oregon Coast has allowed Stansell to incorporate the very best this rare wood has to offer in a quest to emulate the Spanish Masters. Stansell Guitars was profiled in the April 2011 edition of Acoustic Guitar Magazine.

His short documentary “A Guitar Makers Path” was selected and screened at the 2011 Ashland Independent Film Festival and the 2012 Port Townsend Film Festival. His Stansell Guitars YouTube channel also features a series of “time lapse” flamenco guitar building videos. Les studied under Anthony Huvard at the Northwest School of Instrument Design in, Seattle, 1978-79, and again with Huvard in Skykomish, Washington, 1981.

A 1999 interview with Les is featured on Anthony’s Famous Guitarmaker’s Internet Site. In 1982, Les and his wife Mary, founded the “Pistol River Concert Association.” A small venue intimate concert series that has continued to this day.

Tyde Music (Verdi, NV)

TYDE Music was born on the North Shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe. It was founded in 2010 by self taught luthiers Tyler Joersz and Devin Price.

Pronounced “Tide” the company name is a collaboration of the founders names. (Ty) ler and (De) vin = TYDE.

Both apprenticed under master woodworker and founder of Roundwood Furniture, Cline.

A trip to Hawaii and the love of music is what inspired friends, Tyler and Devin; to take the furniture cutoffs from Roundwood Furniture to build their first ukuleles. This is when the self teaching of building instruments began and then the sister company TYDE Music was born.

The company started small only building ukuleles, and once were confident and comfortable; started moving on up to other instruments as well. They now they currently make ukuleles, guitaleles, cajon drums, didgeridoos and other music accessories. Innovation, creativity and a non-traditional approach allow them to build great sounding, gorgeous, and comfortable instruments to travel with ease.

TYDE Music has an appreciation for wood, and understand it is a major life source to our planet. While they do use exotic woods, they prefer to use local, reclaimed, and sustainable woods in their instruments. While looking to reduce waste, they look for contractors that have materials from remodels. As for themselves they look to salvage materials from landfills, furniture scraps, and even local piers and docks. Sometimes when customers place an order for a ukulele, the customers have salvaged or left over pieces of wood that they ask to be reused in their instrument, this is something TYDE gets excited about to use. 
Music truly can make the world a better place in so many different ways. It has become a great passion of theirs to build musical instruments, and share their talent with the world. To build a beautiful and great sounding instrument is what it means to live within art, music and history.

Jason Wolverton (Laguna Beach, CA)

Some custom makers start as cabinet builder or carpenters of some sort and can eventually do really nice work. Jason came to the world of lutherie as a musician and artist. He has a Bachelor of Music in composition and has written music for shows on the Food Network, The Cooking Channel, The Travel Channel, and independent movies. He is also a professional gigging classical guitarist.

About 15 years ago Jason turned his passion for music towards creating these instruments he loved. In 2003 and 2005 he studied Spanish guitar construction with Jose Romanillos in Siguenza, Spain. Jason said this about the experience.

“It was a great privilege not only to learn from such a master, but also to meet such a truly warm person who also happens to be the world’s greatest guitar maker. It is my goal as a luthier to capture the sweet, singing sound of the traditional Spanish guitar. In my opinion, this is the sound of Torres and Romanillos.”

Jason’s guitars are known to be among the best and the same could be said of his ukuleles. Corey gives us a sound sample here. Our sound samples are recorded for true reference and have no alteration or enhancement. Use quality playback for the most accurate listening.

“The musical instrument is a portal; it gives us a fleeting look into infinity. This is why music is so powerful, and this is why the most important instrument that mankind has created is the musical instrument. These reasons are also why the construction of such an instrument requires the utmost care and attention. This is what separates the handmade guitar from the factory-made guitar. It’s that extra bit of character and personality. It is the spirit of each individual guitar maker. One can feel the difference.”

–Jason Wolverton

Canada

(Sorted Alphabetically)

Lone Tree (Lake Cowichan, BC)

Luthier Steve Doreen, founder of Lone Tree Guitars & Ukuleles, lives and works in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island BC. With a focus on design innovation, great tone and locally sourced tone woods (as available), Steve offers a wide range of models with custom features built to order.

Steve Doreen is a carpenter by trade whose passion turned to lutherie a decade ago. Building from his workshop in the woods, you’ll find Steve carving necks, gluing braces and tapping tops day and night, working to bring you an extraordinary playing experience. Steve will build just about anything you want and loves to collaborate on creating one of a kind instruments that completely suit the style, taste and touch of the player. 

Steve grew up in South Eastern Ontario and is an outdoor enthusiast, whose other passions include hiking, cycling, and making Kombucha. Steve and his partner Chelsea enjoy life in the country with their two rescue cattle dogs.

Martin Beck (Sproat Lake, BC)

Martin has been a member of the Guild of American Luthiers since 1997 and has been building acoustic instruments for over 25 years under the name Martin Beck (van Humbeck just doesn’t fit on a headstock).

Each instrument is custom built in his shop, on the shores of beautiful Sproat Lake on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

While his own designs (the Ashley and the JJ) and Tenor and Concert ukuleles are his primary interest, I also build Dreadnaught, OOO, OM, Resophonic and Classicals.

Germany

(Sorted Alphabetically)

Roessel (Calw)

Every beginning is difficult! Getting here wasn’t always easy for us. But we wouldn’t change anything about it for anything in the world. Our experiences have made us what we are today – and we have learned from our mistakes. You can benefit from this today.

Precision craftsmanship and selected woods make the sound of our ukuleles so unique. Each of our instruments is made individually and tuned individually.

Ziegenspeck (Rudolstadt)

My name is Tom Ziegenspeck and I am the owner of the instrument making brand “Ziegenspeck Ukulele”.

This company specializes in the manufacture of very high quality musical instruments.

But how can I guarantee this quality?

I studied for 4 years at the technical college for musical instrument making in Markneukirchen and learned both the practical (acquisition of the master’s degree in making plucked instruments) and the theoretical background of making plucked instruments. In the town of Markneukirchen, where CF Martin I was born and made his first quality instruments, the best musical instrument makers in the world are now trained.

A few years of classical guitar building have personally provided me with a perfect basis, which, together with the acquisition of knowledge about traditional Hawaiian ukulele building, allows unique instruments to be created. 

I have also worked with Dave King (Martin Repair Shop UK) and ukulele builder Pete Howlett (North Wales). 

Based on this experience, the Ziegenspeck ukuleles are manufactured with the highest precision and a special design and are individually tailored for each individual customer.

Italy

(Sorted Alphabetically)

Antica Ukuleleria (Verona)

Hello! My name is Marco Todeschini and I am a luthier specialized in the ukulele making. Why this job? It’s a story full of serendipity and nice anecdotes.

Since I was a little kid my dad taught me how to build small wooden toys. While in high school I built my very first guitar and it was love at first sight: I discovered a passion that led me for the following years to build self-taught instruments and then to leave my job to attend a luthierie school.

I studied 4 years in Milan where I learnt lute and classical guitar traditional building methods. During my studies I happen to need a small instrument to fit in a hand-luggage to take to the United States, a present for my girlfriend who spent a year there. This is when I discovered the ukulele!
After the first one I made a second and a third one, to the point it became a drug and now I cannot stop!

After my Diploma it was time to get out of the garage that kept my dreams for the past 8 years. I started looking for a small workshop to settle and I got welcomed by Verona FabLab a fabrication laboratory where innovation has shape of 3d printers, laser cutters and CNC routers. The combination of the traditional tecniques with the new technologies gave birth to something unexpected. 

Japan

(Sorted Alphabetically)

Po-Sans (Sapporo)

Details from Shawn Yacavone at Ukulele Friend:

“Po” of Sapporo, Japan takes an incredible approach to 21st century ukulele luthierie. Po continues to design elements into his builds that elevate his pieces into the category of functional art. His interest in finely handcrafted ukuleles and guitars began in 1997 when he studied under famed Japanese luthiers, Mitsuhiro and Izumi Uchida of Nagar, Japan. In 2001, Po began his journey as a new luthier in handcrafted guitars and ukuleles and continued on this path for ten years, handcrafting some of the finest guitars and ukuleles in Japan.

During this time Po also pursued his other passion in life, his licensure in Japanese “Kaiseki” or “Japanese multi-course fine dining” – pausing his career as a luthier and redirecting his creative elements in new ways. Over the next ten years, Po worked as a Kaiseki chef at some of Japan’s most prestigious Kaiseki restaurants.

In 2021, he returned to his first love of woodworking and has since found a way to combine his pursuit of expressive creativity, that which he learned through Japanese Kaiseki cuisine, with his passion for finely handcrafted instruments. The result is something truly magnificent!

Po handcrafts a limited number of instruments per year and each possesses its own aesthetic and tonal personality. His instruments reflect old world Japanese artistry with contemporary applications.

Seilen (Kitayama, Chino City)

Seiren Koubou’s musical instruments are made from various kinds of wood stocks for musical instruments collected from all over the world. These instruments will add color to your life with their clear and crisp tones, and at other times their warm and gentle tones, and will become an indispensable part of your everyday life.

Shinji Takahashi himself manages all the processes for each instrument, and he carefully proceeds with production, always thinking that the player who uses the instrument can enjoy playing comfortably. 

Shimo (Tokyo)

Shimo is a luthier based in Japan. He graduated from the Robert-Venn School Of Luthiery in 1980. After that, he worked on the handcrafted team for Morris Musical Instruments where he used to make high grade guitars and develop new guitars. In April 1982, he opened his shop ‘Shimo Guitars’ and started making guitars himself. Now he’s very happy because everybody can see the instruments that he’s made on his website.

TODA (Shiga Prefecture)

Photo from Elderly Instruments

From a review by the Southern Ukulele Store:

TODA has a reputation in Japan as being one of the countries finest builders. Much like his contemporary Eiichi Sumi, TODA cannot be emailed, called or contacted at his workshop as he likes to be left to his own devices and he currently produces fewer than 10 instruments each year. He doesn’t take traditional commissions and instead likes to design and innovate with each series of Ukulele builds. Many household name manufacturers have drawn inspiration from his designs; most famously AnueNue with the Moonbird UT200 Ukulele. For the past decade, the only way of making contact with TODA was via ‘Ohana Ukulele’ (a famous Japanese Ukulele shop).

More recently, TODA opened up his custom builds for us dealers to fight over at the NAMM show with The Ukulele site in Hawaii and Ribbee Ukulele in Thailand both taking delivery of a single TODA instrument in the past two years. Otherwise, that really is it. TODA is currently considered one of the, if not THE, premier Japanese Ukulele Luthiers and his instruments have only ever appeared in a handful of music retailers. 

Joji Yoshida (Naha, Okinawa)

Born in Yokohama, Japan in 1975, Joji studied guitar making under Sergei de Jonge.
Joji typically builds about 10 instruments per year in Naha, Okinawa.

Joji’s exhibition history includes:

  • 2015 Memphis Acoustic Guitar Festival, USA
  • 2016 Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration, USA
  • 2017 Cremona Musica International Exhibition, Italy
  • 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019 Tokyo Handcrafted Guitar Fes., Japan
  • 2015, 2017 & 2019 Ukulele Guild of Hawaii Annual Exhibition, USA
  • 2019 Music China

South Africa

(Sorted Alphabetically)

Brian Fanner (Cape Town)

Inspired by Rock’n’Roll classics, our solid body electric ukuleles are made for the stage.

Exceptional quality and playability are our passions.

Owned by Brian and Mark Fanner (yes we’re brothers), we are a small family business based on the West Coast of South Africa with an office in Cape Town.

Having both spent too much time at university studying Law (Mark) and Industrial Design and Fine Art (Brian) we set up our business in 1997. At first we made finely tuned wind chimes for the European market and later picture frames from reclaimed timber which is still an important part of our business (www.lunadesigns.eu if you’re curious).

In 2000, motivated by Brian’s interest in the skills required to make a great sounding guitar, and nudged in the direction by a few friends, we started learning how to build electric guitars. It started with a couple of hobby builds for Brian who has been playing guitar since he was 10. We soon found a niche making guitars from oil cans, which is a childhood occupation for many African children. Ours are electrical and playable though, so much so that they have featured on many a stage and are owned by musical celebrities around the world. We’ve made over a thousand of these guitars to date.

In 2014 we started making our electric Ukulele’s – we figured they would be easier to take to an international market being smaller to ship and with a wider appeal than the oil can guitars. We were also tickled by the idea of making ukulele versions of classic rock guitars of the past.

Being based on the southern tip of Africa, and out in the countryside to boot, we have become expert in-sources. We pretty much make everything ourselves.

Our wood comes largely from our extensive stock of reclaimed timber on our farm. Gathered over the years, there is more than a thousand cubic meters of it, a fair percentage of which is valuable teak and other interesting woods. We hope that by using reclaimed timber we are reducing our environmental footprint.

Most of the spray painted bodies are made from Meranti or Douglas Fir which are lightweight yet stable with great acoustic properties. Maple, Wenge and special figured woods are bought in for projects.

Some hardware needs to be imported but much of it is designed by Brian and lazer cut in Cape Town. We polish the stainless steel ourselves.

The bodies are cut on a cnc machine and hand sanded, neck profiles are hand shaped.

Spray painting is also done in house and is one of the trickiest bits for us to get right. Temperatures on the farm can reach 45 degrees Celsius which means that much of the painting needs to be done at night when things have cooled down a touch. After spraying several coats the bodies and necks are hand sanded.

The pickups are hand wound using alnico pole magnets and potted in beeswax harvested from the hives on the farm.

Brian personally sets each ukulele up, he favours a low action but will accommodate customer requests.

Once finished the ukes are shipped from our office in Woodstock in Cape Town in bags that are again made locally. We cut the material and the stitching is done by a local woman in Cape Town and provides her with a useful extra income.

Our Etsy reviews speak for themselves as do the growing number of customers who have bought second and even third Fanner Ukuleles. Buying one of our Ukes is certain to extend your musical range and will gives you many years of enjoyment.

Thank you for reading our story 🙂

Brian and Mark Fanner.

United Kingdom

(Sorted Alphabetically)

Andy's Ukuleles (West Berkshire)

Just a guy making little ukes in his shed in his spare time. Home of the Nano uke,1/2 the size of a soprano ukulele.

I build small sub-soprano scale ukuleles in my small garden shed. I started making short scale ukes after playing an iuke, I liked the size but not the narrow nut and build quality, being unable to find anyone making something similar I had a go myself and built my first piccolo uke. Some friends tried it and asked me to make them some.

The tiny nano uke came about after seeing a friend post a blog about building a 1/2 soprano sized uke,once again I decided to see if I could build one and it went crazy from there onwards.

When i have some ukes available i’ll post them up for sale on my page.
I also take the occasional special commission build if it’s something a little different or from a wood i might not usually use, please feel free to contact me if you have something specific in mind.

Nano ukuleles currently start at £280+postage depending on the woods used.

Unfortunately since the UK left the EU and the effects of Covid it’s made it expensive, complicated and difficult to ship my ukes to Europe so from now on my uke will only be available to the UK and USA/Canada.

Wunderkammer (Bristol)

There’s something about old instruments, ones built in the early 20th Century and before. Working for several years in a folk music emporium I’ve been fortunate enough to have had many of these treasures pass through my hands, as grudging trade-ins and oblivious attic discoveries.  When played, they ring against you excitedly. They are often nearly-but-not-quite symmetrical. The varnish is thin – easily scratched, yes, but the natural beauty of the wood glows through. They are artifacts, not products.

That is the feeling I am trying to replicate in my work. The design inspiration comes from a host of sources: Early Martin and Kumalae ukuleles; Stella, Kay & Harmony guitars; Chris Knutsen’s ‘New Hawaiian Family’; Larson Harp-Mandolins. Would make a good Pinterest board, no? Here you go.

I make these instruments entirely by hand, using traditional hand tools and, as far as I can, techniques. I own neither bandsaw, nor thickness sander. But I’ve got a hell of a block plane. I wouldn’t suggest for a minute that my instruments are made empirically better by my luddite habits, but by eliminating the noise and dust of machines from my workspace I’m happier in my work, and I hope that comes through in my instruments.

I use a Spanish or Slipper Heel method in my instruments – as in traditional Spanish guitar construction, the neck piece extends into the body of the instrument, with the sides fit into slots in the neck, rather than building the neck and body as separate elements and joining them afterwards.