The 4 K’s – No it is not a new brand of breakfast cereal
Some of the best and well known ukes come from hawaii, the most popular being the 4 K brands – Kamaka, Kanilea, Ko aloha, Ko’ olau
Kamaka ukes, with their distinctive double K logo on the headstock, were founded in 1916 by Samuel Kaialiilii Kamaka in Kaimuki, near Honolulu.
Kamaka are credited for inventing the pineapple shaped ukulele body, and are endorsed by some big ukulele names, including Jake Shimabukuro and George Harrison. They are also famed for their support of the disabled community, winning the Outstanding Employer for Persons with Disabilities award.
They manufacture 9 models of ukulele in a variety of sizes.
Kanile’a ukes are a more modern brand, but made on Hawaii to similar exacting hand made standards by Joe and Kristen in Kaneohe.
Joe started playing uke at school and started training to be a master luthier in 1990, and in the last 20 years has built up an enviable reputation for quality instruments.
They offer a large range of models, with some special finishes and bracing systems.
Koaloha ukes are hand crafted in Honolulu by Alvin Okami, who actually started his career as a singer!
Alvin started his manufacturing business in 1981, and now make a large range of high quality ukes in a variety of styles including the unique Pineapple Sunday, considered by many to be one of the best ‘stand out’ ukes on the market.
Ko’olau started in 1979 as Kitakis Stringed Instruments, based in Wahiawa, Hawaii. The business expanded, and changed its name to Ko’olau, named after the mountain range on the eastern edge of the volcano on the island of O’ahu.
The company started in the early years making a small number of hand made ukes and mandolins, but mainly focussed on repairs to instruments. In the 1990’s and the resurgence in ukulele popularity and the business expanded to the large range of expertly built, hand made ukes available to this day. Ko’olau are also responsible for the Pono (non hand made) line of mid level ukuleles