About Us

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.

In an incredible 26 year journey the company has continued to grow, expanding from a 500 square foot garage to three physical locations with over 20,000 square feet, housing a full team of 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, starting with the trademarked TRU bracing system (for “Total Resonating ʻUkulele”), in 2006 which was further revised with the aid of laser technology in 2017 to create our TRU-R bracing. We debuted the industryʻs first Beveled Cutaway with TRU-Bevel in 2015, and the first comfort edge armrest with TRU-Armrest in 2017. 2021 saw the introduction of TRU-Relief, TRU-Reduction, and TRU-Support to our Platinum series ʻukulele, allowing for a radical new contoured soundboard for maximum player comfort.


All of these TRU innovations came together in 2024 to form the backbone of our new “Total Resonating Guitar”, or TRG System, which is now being used in all of our guitars. Thatʻs right — in 2024 we started building guitars alongside our ʻukuleles, challenging ourselves to build the best possible guitar with all of our years of experience and all of our innovations built in right from the start. We are proud to bring these innovations developed for our ʻukuleles to the guitar for the very first time, and to build a lightweight, comfortable, beautiful, and spectacular sounding solid koa guitar here in Hawaiʻi.

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

Our Core Values are:






We Aim to Inspire Joy in Every ʻOhana Through M.U.S.I.C. 

About Kristen And Joe Souza

Joe and Kristen were both born and raised in Kailua on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu. With Kristen’s background in customer sales and accounting, and Joe’s passion for the `ukulele, this dynamic duo have been creating and sharing Hawaiian masterpieces since 1998. For Joe, the `ukulele MORE>

Saving Hawaii’s Forests

Planting trees to sustain a `ukulele business makes business-sense. So why would the Souzas of Kanile`a `Ukulele plant trees that won’t be live or clear cut? Why are they passionate about saving Hawaii’s forests? MORE>

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I order a Kanile`a `Ukulele? We at Kanile`a `Ukulele want to make purchasing or ordering your new instrument as easy as possible. If you feel more comfortable making a purchase over the phone, call us at 808-234-2868 to speak with our incredible office team. They can answer any questions you may have. Another […]MORE>


Kanile`a `Ukulele and Islander by Kanile`a (www.islanderukulele.com) have been featured in numerous magazine ads over the years. Here are some of our favorite magazine ads featuring our hand-crafted instruments! Kanile`a Ukulele Celebrates 20 Years | Kanile`a `Ukulele Celebrates 20 Years (cont..) Let’s Jam: An Article from The `Ukulele Festival 2018!MORE>

Kanile`a Krew

Meet the dedicated family of Kanile`a `Ukulele … MORE>

The FDNY Tenor

Kanile`a `Ukulele was very fortunate to be part of a heart touching event. Most people know of Joe Souza the Master Luthier, but not too often do our customers get to know Fire Fighter II Joseph N. Souza III from Ladder 17. Joe has been a proud member of the Honolulu Fire Department for over fifteen years. When a colleague of his, Lopaka Ho’opi’i mentioned he wanted something special to …. MORE>