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 quality luthiers we’re missing, please reach out and let me know!
USA - Hawaii
Ana'ole (Pearl City, Oahu)
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.
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.
Kotaro Guitars (Kailua, Hawaii)
Lymana (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Aloha, my name is Lyman Ashikawa and I was born and raised on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. I have been building ukuleles for the last 30 years and have since perfected my craft. I have not only made dozens of custom ukuleles for everyday people, but have also had the honor of building instruments for icons such as Bill Tapia (click the link to see the project). I hope you enjoy browsing my site and consider a Lymana Ukulele. I would be honored to craft you one!
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"
Kamaka (Honolulu, Oahu)
Kanile'a (Kaneohe, Oahu)
Koaloha (Honolulu, Oahu)
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
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)
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.
Ken Franklin (Ukiah, CA)
I started making instruments when I graduated from college in 1973. I was working at a bicycle shop doing repairs and I had a lot of free time on weekends and in the evenings. I was learning to play guitar and I had a nice flamenco that I had purchased from a friend. I didn’t really need another guitar but I wanted to see if I could make one.
In junior high school I had taken woodshop classes and learned the beginnings of cabinetry. I loved the techniques, the tools, the different woods and the smell of the place. I was able to make a nice walnut cabinet to hold my mom’s piano music. That gave me the confidence later in life to make wooden things and do some carpentry. (Thank you, Mr. Goodell.) So why not a guitar?
I went to the university library thinking that they probably didn’t have any how-to books but to my surprise they had a copy of Irving Sloane’s Classical Guitar Construction. I didn’t have any power tools or access to a shop so I was happy to find out that I could make all the special tools I needed from the directions in the book. With it I made my first guitar. It wasn’t great. I made a lot of mistakes but it worked well enough to keep me building for a while.
I made some dulcimers and a couple more guitars that sounded and looked better. I thought I might want to make it a career. Even wrote to Martin Guitar Co. to see if I could get a job there. They were nice enough to write back and tell me that I probably wouldn’t be interested in doing the same task every day. They were probably right. So I moved on. I had my guitar that suited my abilities just fine. I’m really more of a singer than a player. Besides, I really didn’t have much of a bent for marketing. Still don’t.
We started a family and it became apparent that our part time jobs might not cover our costs. So I used my college education to get various elementary teaching positions. It was great, I could spend part of almost every day singing with the students. After a couple of decades I was looking toward retirement and remembering back to how much fun it was to make instruments.
A lot had changed since 1973. It took me awhile to catch up to those changes in techniques and equipment. While I still do a lot of hand work I found that some power tools could improve my fit and finish. I developed to the point that over the years my work was accepted in major shows like the Healdsburg Guitar Festival, the Montreal Guitar Festival and the Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration.
I got a bandsaw capable of resawing local woods for use in my instruments. While I appreciate exotic woods I am drawn more now to what is available nearby. I’m always experimenting with new ideas and techniques. Each instrument should be better than the last one and that has often been the case.
I had begun my second foray into guitar construction in 2003 and by 2005 I was building guitars for sale in earnest, mostly through word of mouth but some through my first website and the shows. Ukuleles came later. My mother had bought a ukulele while on a family vacation from Ohio to California in the ‘30s. After she passed away my nephew wanted to play it but the ukulele was hopelessly in need of “attention” as my father used to say. The tuners wouldn’t hold pitch and intonation was off by the whole width of the saddle. No big deal. Once I was done it played in tune but there was nothing I could do about the infinitely small neck with a triangular profile.
After I gave it back I decided to make a ukulele for myself that would fit my hand better. Of course I overcorrected and my first ukulele looked a little odd especially since it was a soprano. But it sounded fine and I found out that really enjoyed playing it. All of a sudden music theory made more sense to me and chords that were often difficult for me on a guitar were much easier on the ukulele.
So I started making more ukuleles. I was aware that guitar builders often overbuild their ukuleles and I wanted to avoid that. Surprisingly it didn’t take that long to become comfortable building smaller scaled instruments. They still mostly look like small guitars but I try not to stray too far from the happy little instruments ukuleles are. I make the occasional guitar now but most of my new instruments are ukuleles.
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)
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)
Kevin Mason (Wheeling, ,IL)
In 2002, Kevin Mason began building musical instruments after having played guitars, lutes, and other stringed instruments professionally for over 20 years. Since then, he has made mostly acoustic guitars, but also resonator, classical, and jazz guitars. In 2006, he built his first ukulele, and today he focuses on making high quality ukuleles for professional and amateur players alike.
As a small shop, craft builder, Kevin believes in making instruments that are beautiful to the eye, using only the best quality solid woods. Because he was a player long before he was a builder, Kevin is sensitive to the touch and easy playability of his instruments, and to the tone and sustain of the instruments he makes. He does not settle for anything less than the best musical instrument possible.
Pat Megowan (Corvallis, OR)
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)
Ono (Ashland, OR)
J. Rieck (Sioux Falls, SD)
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.
Chris Trietsch (Albertson, New York)
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)
LFDM (Pickering, Ontario)
My name is Luis Alberto Feu de Mesquita and my ancestry goes back to Andalusia in the south of Spain where the modern guitar evolved. Coming from this region, I was exposed to the richness and passion of Flamenco from an early age, but the emergence of The Beatles drew me to the electric guitar. After subjecting my poor classical to several modifications, I decided to build my own guitar from the ground up.
I built that first guitar in my mid-teens and ended up making guitars for the other members of our band. By age 18 I had already built and repaired several guitars, ultimately finding that construction was more fulfilling for me than playing.
After moving to Canada in 1970 to attend college I graduated as a mechanical engineer, began my career, married and had children. Throughout this entire period of time, I continued building and repairing guitars after work and on weekends. Later, life changing events made me realize that I needed to nourish my passion for building guitars and LFdM Guitars was born.
I subsequently undertook more formal training with master luthier Sergei de Jonge to further refine my skills. He was a wonderful teacher who encouraged exploration and I absorbed a great deal from Sergei and his entire family.
Engineering has contributed significantly to my approach and brought out the perfectionist in me. I prefer drafting and resolving ideas and challenges on paper first to ensure that the execution is very efficient, and surprises are limited.
The result is that each of my guitars is not just hand-built with love and pride; they are also built with great precision in Ontario, Canada. They are unique masterpieces that reflect the individuality of their owners.
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)
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.
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 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