About Hāmākua Musical Instruments

A cool wind blows across the land.  The scent of ginger and plumeria fill the air.  The mist from Akaka falls gently presses against your brow, and the sounds of Hawaii fill your mind.  Palm trees and Banana leaf rustle in the wind and the simple, yet beautiful, sounds of Ukulele, laughter, song, and aloha reach your ear.  This is Hāmākua. The rich, northeast coast on the Big Island of Hawaii.

For many years I have travelled there from the mainland.  My family, from Kalihi on Oahu (a neighboring island), lives a faster pace.  The bustling of “Town,” like the cities on the west coast of California, had lost my interest.  In search of a slower, more palatable lifestyle, I found myself falling in love with Hilo and the shores of the north.  What captured me most was the wind, like a breath from God.  The Hawaiian’s felt this as they named this coastline “Hāmākua” … Breath of the Father.  As if God the Father had breathed upon it.

Today I live in Southeast Vista, California.  It is an unincorporated area of North County San Diego.  No less than five miles from the bustle of a small city, up on top of a hillside, I have found that same wind speaking to me.  Here I build musical instruments.  The ukulele, quintessentially identified with Hawaii, is my instrument of choice.  Here in Southern California, I have found sustainably grown African Mahogany and local timber like Sycamore and Black Acacia growing wild.  Naturally, we also build ukuleles from the mighty Hawaiian Koa Tree.   My friendships on the Big Island of Hawaii have brought me knowledge and new friendships with wood dealers that are responsibly harvesting the old growth that has naturally fallen on their acreage. I never use wood that I would be ashamed to build with.

Our goal here at Hāmākua Musical Instruments is to build a great sounding Ukulele.  It’s not about cost, or fame, or bragging rights.  We build with what we have.  Our ukuleles are sometimes constructed from guitar builder wood remnants that are too small for a guitar but just right for a ukulele.   Sometimes we repurpose desirable wood from old or broken furniture.  With the right pieces, we can build the right parts which results in a ukulele that has superior sound and playability.  Hand built ukuleles are not inexpensive, but inclusion of repurposed wood helps lower costs and allow us to offer our instruments at a good prices and in keeping with our environmental policy.

Please feel free to try our instruments! Your input is vital to our dynamic growth.  If you like what you play, tell a friend.  If you don’t, tell us! Thanks for taking the time to know a little about us, and playing our instruments.  We hope to inspire you to stop and feel the “Hāmākua Coast” every time you play.

Blessings & Aloha,

Ross Yamamoto

Hāmākua Musical Instruments