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Message started by hapakid on Feb 24th, 2005 at 11:04am

Title: Eddie Kamae's uke
Post by hapakid on Feb 24th, 2005 at 11:04am
I have enjoyed watching the new film by Eddie Kamae about the Sons of Hawai'i. It's a masterpiece.
It's not just about ukulele, but there's plenty in there about Uncle Eddie and his uke.  
Can anyone tell me anything about the large double-puka uke he plays in many contemporary scenes of the movie? It looks large enough to be a guitar and it has a very wide neck and four nylon strings. I assume it is a baritone of some kind. I know I'll never be able to play like him, but it makes me want an instrument like that!
Jesse Tinsley

Title: Re: Eddie Kamae's uke
Post by Bart Potter on Mar 5th, 2005 at 4:18pm
To the best of my knowledge, Eddie's uke was made by Brian Ikehara at the Guitar and Lute Workshop at 404 Piikoi around 1973/74.  I know because I was apprenticing there at the time.  I'm not sure who pioneered the twin hole design, but many instruments came out of the shop that used it (including classical guitars) and just prior to 1974 the Beamer brothers had made some guitars at the shop using that soundhole pattern and due to their notoriety it became associated with them.  A number of the twin hole instruments  came back into the shop with distorted tops from being braced too lightly under the bridge.   Other craftsmen in George Gilmore's shop during that period were Douglas Ching and Randall Pong.  I believe Charles Brotman was also an alum.

The shop specialized in renaissance instruments like the lute, vihuela, and viola da gamba.  Much to George's horror and chagrin, ukulele and steel string guitars were two of the items that actually made the shop money, both of them falling out of the category of things that George considered legitimate musical instruments.  A great story could be written about the Guitar and Lute Workshop.  The shop shut down around 1975.

Eddie dearly loves his uke (actually, I think he has two instrumnents of that design) and about every other time I run into him he asks me for Brian's name.  Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate Brian, even through a web search.  Someone of that name in Arizona has not responded to my inquiries.   If anyone ever finds out more, I'm sure Eddie would like to make contact with him.


Bart Potter

Title: Re: Eddie Kamae's uke
Post by hapakid on Mar 10th, 2005 at 7:31am
Thanks for the background information. I love the sound of that big-bodied instrument and the look of the wide fretboard.  It's on my list of instruments to build one day.
It appeared, in the film, that Eddie had four clear/white nylon strings on it.  Does anybody know what strings and tuning he might be using?
Jesse Tinsley

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