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.

We now arrive to 2020, 22 years later, the company has continued to grow expanding from 1,500 square feet to over 7,000.  And with the help of now full-time Kaimana, Iokepa, and Kahiau, who are Joe and Kristen’s three sons, the Souza Family continues to inspire the soul.

We are on a mission to Innovate a Healthy and Creative World Through High-Quality and Joyful Sounding ‘Ukulele.

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 ( 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>