Frequently Asked Questions
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 convenient method is via e-mail.
To contact us directly regarding custom design questions please email us at:
For general information and dealer inquiries:
Our mailing address:
46-216 Kahuhipa Street #3
Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744
Each Kanile`a `Ukulele is unique in its own way. We look forward to assisting you in designing your own custom Kanile`a!
Once all the final details are worked out and the materials needed are available and ready, the building process can take 4 to 6 weeks for a model and up to 12 weeks for a custom.
The biggest variable will be the type of features your Kanile`a will have such as binding, a rosette and/or a custom inlay. This will determine the total work time involved in creating your instrument.
- PayPal via [email protected]
- Credit/Debit cards: VISA and MasterCard
- Check with account holder’s information imprinted on it drawn on a U.S. Bank
- Money Order
- Wire Transfer (please email us at [email protected] for banking details)
- Cash payments in person only – please DO NOT send cash via mail or courier
We do require a non-refundable 50% deposit. This secures your instrument’s position in the build schedule once the design has been approved by you.
You may make periodic payments while your instrument is in production or pay off the balance upon completion…whichever is easiest for you. Once it is finished, we will contact you to confirm your delivery option of choice and complete payment. Your instrument will then be sent to you.
Within the United States, your instrument will typically be sent via FedEx. For international orders, we often send via USPS International. We will also deliver international orders via FedEx and DHL per the customer’s request. We always insure each package and with your e-mail address, will forward tracking information to you. All instrument packages will be sent with adult signature required. If you require a different signature option, please include that in the notes section with your order. Upon request we can send your instrument via the carrier of your choice. Please note: once a package has been picked up by the carrier, only the receiver can make any changes to routing or delivery.
Kanile`a `Ukulele was the first and still the only `ukulele manufacture in Hawai`i to utilize Italian-made Aquila Corde Super Nylgut `ukulele strings. These Super Nylgut strings are designed as a contemporary synthetic string that carries the same acoustic properties as a traditional gut string with the durability and longevity expected of a modern string. Many of our customers and dealers prefer the “white” Aquila strings because of the brilliant tones they produce which aid in giving that unique Kanile`a tone.
We understand that each `ukulele player has their own vision of a sound they would like their instrument to produce. We can outfit your new Kanile`a with strings of your choice that you provide. Our goal is to create an instrument that you will love to play!
Intonation is how true a note is to pitch as the player moves up the fingerboard. A “true” instrument, when properly set up, should produce the same note as an open string just one octave higher (e.g. open A string first course 440Hz, twelfth fret 880Hz). Another test is to play a 12th fret “harmonic” and then check it with a fretted 12 fret note. A “true” instrument should hit each note played exactly to the frequency that is required (G=392 Hz, C=261.6 Hz, E=329.6 Hz and so on).
For Kanile`a, intonation is the most important facet in building a fine instrument. This is followed very closely by playability. Now, how do we achieve perfect intonation? It would be very simple to just double the measurement from the twelfth fret, glue on the bridge and say it’s close enough, right? Many builders still build instruments this way. They believe that only a trained ear could hear the difference. Not true! As a player develops their skill they will appreciate having their instrument stay in tune as they progress up the fingerboard. Each Kanile`a `ukulele has a scale length that has been compensated for our setup and allows for each note to be at perfect pitch. A computer program designed jig that cuts our fingerboard slots, rides in a keyway that ensures a perfectly placed slot each and every time.
Now understand, an instrument moves and wood breathes. We address these problems with a controlled building environment and utilizing properly seasoned woods.
What we cannot control is an individual’s playing-style. This will eventually play a role in the instrument’s intonation. If a player is a hard strummer and bends his strings during chording (which elongates the strings and throws off the pitch) this can affect intonation. This type of player should change their strings often to ensure intonation stays proper.
Unfortunately for right now factory tours are suspended until further notice.
Our Kanile`a instruments are different in that we have applied some very modern styles of bracing and thickness tolerances along with age old drying and seasoning techniques that allow our instruments to ring like no other. And while the aesthetic features are wonderful the questions every player should ask is how does it sound? Volume is the first aspect a new Kanile`a owner will notice. Next, is the instrument’s sustain (how long does the sound last after the pick or strum?) Ease of playability is another important facet. A big part of enjoying the instrument will be its ease of playability (its final set up) and this only comes with years of experience as a player who has became a builder.
We invite you to see for yourself how we build our playable masterpieces. We offer a free tour Monday to Friday at 10:30 am. Reservations are encouraged but not required. Please be in our Gallery Showroom by 10:25 am for a simple safety briefing.
We are located on the windward side of O’ahu in Kāne’ohe. Any questions? Please call (808) 234-2868.
46-216 Kahuhipa Street, #3
Kāne’ohe, HI 96744
The perfect sound is a lifelong pursuit for us. Our philosophy is to constantly improve and strive for the ultimate sound. It all starts with the introduction of technology along with a balance of traditions that is part of the Kanile`a `Ukulele system:
- Owner-invented TRU (Total Resonating `Ukulele) bracing system
- Industry leading revolutionary UV (ultra violet) cured finish
- Proper preparation of air dried, ¼ sawn cut tone woods
- Unique wider lower bout body shape
- Aquila Corde Super Nylgut strings
- Exclusive Kanile`a tuning machines with an 18:1 gear ratio
- Precision setup of action and ease of playability
- Perfect intonation
Everything we do is toward the ultimate goal of a Kanile`a that produces an amazing sound you will fall in love with – intonation, sustain, resonance, playability. We consider all of these things top priority for every single Kanile`a we build.
One of the most special ways to personalize your `ukulele is with an inlay of your name or symbol that represents you or your heritage somewhere on the instrument. The most popular is your name on the fingerboard or headstock inlayed with Mother of Pearl or Paua abalone, which is a shell material from New Zealand. We have been fortunate to work with customers who are very creative with their inlay. From a Diamond Head inlay in Paua, a Purple Heart frog on the headstock, to a big “Kanile`a” or the Hawaiian Islands inlayed in Paua on the soundboard. We appreciate the chance to show our artistry.
As a company, we are engaged in every process of the Koa and other Hawaiian endemic woods we utilize in building our playable masterpieces. We are part of the planting process (through our passion project Reforest Hawai`i) and when acquiring wood we make sure that every piece that comes into our factory is responsibly sourced.
We are also hands on in the milling process. Where many companies will leave it to basic millers to cut their wood and send it to them, our Master Luthier and company co-owner Joe Souza will fly to Hawai`i Island himself to mill the logs and prepare them for shipment to our Kāne`ohe facility on O`ahu. This guarantees that the most beautiful cuts of wood are available to you, our valued client.
As part of the building process, we have found the perfect marriage between tradition and technology, modernizing crucial steps along the way to ensure efficiency and consistency while keeping true to traditional drying and design practices.
All of these things are above and beyond a builder’s requirements to turn out an instrument but we do this to guarantee that the Kanile`a you purchase will provide you and your `ohana (family) with decades of music, song, joy, love and family tradition. This is not just a commodity. This is an instrument built to be passed from generation to generation in your family and must stand the test of time. Kanile`a instruments are built for this purpose. We feel that we offer all of this at a fair and competitive price.
Yes, all of our Kanile`a instruments are built here at our shop in Kāne’ohe on the Island of O’ahu. We use only solid wood materials (no veneers or plywood) and have built great relationships with the best instrument suppliers all over the world. Our Hawaiian endemic woods are milled and dried in our factory. Exotic woods like mahogany, ebony, rosewood, cedar, spruce and more are responsibly sourced and are sent to us as blanks to be dried in our facility.
We laser cut, sand, glue and bind all the wood pieces of our Kanile`a here. Inlays are designed and done here as well using responsibly sourced materials such as Kailua Beach White sand, White mother-of-pearl and New Zealand Paua abalone. In final set up, instruments are outfitted with our exclusive Kanile`a or Gotoh Stealth geared tuning machines, bridge pins, nuts, saddles and strings sourced by trusted vendors. You can with confidence and truth proudly proclaim your Kanile`a `ukulele as MADE IN HAWAI`I.
We offer a limited Lifetime Warranty. The instrument is covered 100% for Manufacturer defects. This will be determined by Kanile`a after visually inspecting the `ukulele. This applies to the first purchaser. The warranty is non transferable. You must provide receipt of purchase. If purchased from a dealer please contact the dealer directly. They will assist you further. Please refer to terms and conditions, Limitation on Obligations and Claim Procedures. https://www.kanileaukulele.com/warranty
Koa is a very fine tonal wood. Its popularity in the guitar world has grown considerably. The guitar builders have found out what `ukulele builders have known for years, Koa produces a very bright and vibrant sound with little over tones. This bright sound is what made the `ukulele so popular. Now, some customers have trained their ear to a mellower/warmer sound. We will work together and design an instrument with a particular sound in mind. Koa is a beautiful tonal wood, but not the only tonal wood available. Some of the best sounding `ukuleles we have built have been of Claro Walnut back and sides with a Sitka spruce soundboard. This wood combination is very popular with custom and production guitar builders. Another beautiful sounding wood combination is Brazilian Rosewood with a Western Red Cedar soundboard, which I suggest on our bigger (Tenor and Super Tenor) size instruments. The wood combinations are endless. The best advice is work with us to achieve the sound that you are envisioning for your new instrument.
We use an environmentally-friendly UV Polyester finish developed for Taylor Guitars of California. Our unique finish is applied in our spray booth and then placed in our Ultra-Violet light box for three minutes. Incredibly, your instrument can be sanded just after three minutes in the UV box. Once the second coat has been applied, the `ukulele goes back to our sanders for a final finish sanding and buffing.
We have dealers worldwide that are able to assist you. A detailed list is available through our Kanile`a Dealer page. Feel free to contact them directly.
Your Kanile`a `Ukulele is constructed from solid wood that was carefully dried and seasoned. Solid wood will absorb moisture in wet climates and give off moisture in dry climates. If you live in a desert, high mountain, or cold winter region, you will experience dry weather from time to time which could crack your `ukulele. This is especially true during the winter when your heaters are being used. If not taken care of properly the damage can be very serious and is not covered by this limited warranty. Cracking can easily be prevented by storing your `ukulele in its case and by using a sound hole humidifier.
A UV Cured Polyester finish is a perfect complement to our TRU (Total Resonating `Ukulele) bracing system because both are crucial to the unique sound of a Kanile`a `ukulele. Unlike a typical lacquer finish which can often require 10-15 coats, the UV finish requires, at most, 3 coats of product. This full-protection finish moves and breathes with the `ukulele, allowing expansion and contraction in varying humidity levels with little to no effect.
And the sound is simply amazing!!! With just 3 coats of product, a Kanile`a instrument’s sustain and resonance is incomparable.
We recognize that there are many good pick-ups in the world. However, we looked specifically for ones that could best capture the “Kanile`a” sound on an amplified system. Two of them we designed ourselves. The other two are created by an innovative company called Double. Here are the specifications of each:
- Kanile`a Exclusive Passive – undersaddle piezo installation; includes one crystal per string; no battery bag in the body; less intrusive; for volume and tone control near you, you’ll need an outboard pre-amp.
- Kanile`a Exclusive Active – undersaddle piezo installation; includes one crystal per string; 9 volt battery bag in the body; very POWERFUL system; This pickup does not have any onboard controls.
- Kanile`a Exclusive Active with Volume Control – undersaddle piezo installation; includes one crystal per string; 9 volt battery bag in the body; very POWERFUL system; This will have a single volume knob right on the inside of the soundhole.
Whether you are choosing a Kanile`a model of using the Design Your Own `Ukulele feature, any pick up can be added to your order and will be carefully installed by our Final Assembly team before delivery.
First things first: register your instrument online here. (kanileaukulele.com/warranty) Be sure to read through the lifetime limited warranty which includes our terms and conditions regarding every new Kanile`a `ukulele.
Secondly: take advantage of our Kanile`a exclusive offer for new owners – one month unlimited access to Ukulele Underground, the world’s premiere `ukulele online learning experience. This a great opportunity for ANY player, beginner to advanced, to step up their skills with chief instructor Aldrine Guerrero and his incredible team.
And finally…JUST PLAY `UKULELE!!! Strum, jam, pluck, songwrite…your Kanile`a is begging to be played! As you play, your Kanile`a will “open up” and find its voice. Over time, you will notice tones becoming more rounded, warmer, richer…that’s just the nature of Koa and tonal woods in general. The more you play, the better your `ukulele will sound.
A slotted headstock allows for two things:
- The creation of the slots removes material from the headstock. This causes the headstock and the neck to be lighter in weight for a more comfortable feel.
- Posts are outfitted from side to side, horizontally, through the headstock as opposed to from front to back through the headstock. This allows the strings to drop at a deeper angle past the nut, adding tension to the string without having to adjust the action. This makes for better playability and lessens the need to press so hard on the strings.
Slotted headstocks are available in various shapes and profiles. See all of your options here. https://www.kanileaukulele.com/build/configure/1477
The most popular size is the Tenor `ukulele (12” body, 9.5” L bout, 27” full, 17” scale). It is easy to handle for an adult and has a great sound. Feel free to Design Your Own Kanile`a tenor `ukulele by clicking http://kanilea.wpengine.com/build/configure/1477/
Kanile`a does build in other sizes as well:
- S – Soprano (10” body, 21” full, 13.5” scale) also known as the Standard size
- SS – Super Soprano (10” body, 22” full, 15” scale) Soprano body with a Concert neck – long neck
- C – Concert (11” body, 24” full, 15” scale)
- SC – Super Concert (11” body, 25” full, 17” scale) Concert body with a Tenor neck – long neck
- T 5 – Tenor (12” body, 9.5” L bout, 27” full, 17” scale) 5- string with Low G
- T 6 – Tenor (12” body, 9.5” L bout, 27” full, 17” scale) 6 string, 4 course: G-high C-C-E-low A-A
- T 8 – Tenor (12” body, 9.5” L bout, 27” full, 17” scale) 8 string, 4 course G-low G-high C-C-unison E-unison A
- ST – Super Tenor (12” body, 10.5” L bout, 27” full, 17” scale) Tenor with a wider lower bout
- ST 19” – Super Tenor 19” (12” body, 10.5” L bout, 28” full, 19” scale) Tenor with a wider lower bout & longer scale length
- B – Baritone (14” body, 20” scale) Tuning D-G-B-E with Kanile`a Exclusive Baritone strings
- GL6 – Guitarlele (12” body, 10.5” lower bout, 17” scale, 2” nut) 6-string classical guitar string spacing
Your Kanile`a `ukulele began its life in our climate-controlled factory with a constant relative humidity of 45 percent which wood loves. Here in this happy environment it was created, shaped, its finish applied, then it was sanded, buffed and perfected. To keep it looking and sounding beautiful, it’s good to know about humidity and how it can adversely affect your instrument.
What is humidity? It is the amount of water vapor present in the air. Relative humidity (humidity relative to temperature) is often represented as a percentage and can be measured using a hygrometer.
How does humidity affect my `ukulele? The unfinished parts of your `ukulele (inside the body, the fingerboard and the bridge) are suspect to taking on moisture or losing moisture depending on the relative humidity. Once out of our climate-controlled facility, even properly dried wood will take on a certain amount of moisture from our Hawaiian air often measured at a relative humidity of 70 percent and higher. If an `ukulele is moved to a much drier region and moisture is lost too quickly, problems can result such as cracks, shrinking fingerboards and sharp frets.
How do I protect my Kanile`a? One or two properly maintained humidifiers in the `ukulele case is the best way to avoid these problems. Please read and follow the instructions on the packaging for the humidifiers to know when to refill them or change them out. And while you may be tempted to display your Kanile`a in your home at all times, in its case with the humidifiers is the best place for it.
Where can I purchase humidifiers? They are available in our retail store. Just call (808) 234-2868 or shop online at kanileaukulele.com/shop. Humidifiers, cloths and other maintenance items are available for purchase as well.
As listed in the Terms and Conditions of your Kanile`a Limited Lifetime Warranty:
“Terms and Conditions. Kanile`a warrants solely to the original purchaser of this Kanile`a musical instrument that the instrument purchased shall be free from defects in materials and workmanship under normal use for as long as the instrument is owned by the original purchaser, and until the ownership of the instrument is transferred to another (unless otherwise noted by Kanile`a). This Limited Warranty does not apply: (a) to wear or breakage of frets or strings, or other normal wear and tear of the instrument or its parts; (b) to asserted defects caused by modification, misuse or abuse or improper maintenance of the instrument; (c) to asserted defects involving subjective personal likes or judgments; (d) to asserted defects caused by accident or exposure to extremes of temperature or humidity which cause harm to the instrument; (e) to defects asserted by any purchaser who did not purchase the instrument from an authorized Kanile`a dealer in the United States of America, Canada, Japan or Europe; (f) to electrical components not installed by Kanile`a.”
To see the complete Lifetime Limited Warranty, please click here. kanileaukulele.com/warranty
While most `ukulele builders use a 1-3/8” nut width, Kanile`a `Ukulele uses a 1-1/2” nut width on its handcrafted Hawaiian Kanile`a and its affordable Islander by Kanile`a ukuleles. There are two reasons for this:
- Better playability. With the strings spaced just a little farther apart, this allows for better playability and finger clearance between strings.
- Avoid rolloff. The extra spacing helps a player to avoid the G and A strings from rolling off the fingerboard while playing, especially when it comes to intricate fingering.
Kanile`a `Ukulele has adopted the bridge pin system as seen on many high-end guitars as opposed to the tie-block system commonly found on the `ukulele. There are a number of reasons for this:
- String energy. With the bridge pin system, string energy is channeled directly into the soundboard via the string as it is held firmly in place by the bridge pin.
- Bridge adhesion. After years, we’ve found that the tie-block method tends to cause the bridge or the soundboard to lift. However, with a bridge pin system, because energy and pressure are channeled INTO the bridge, lifting and separation is avoided.
- Easy string change. String changes are easy and fast: tie a figure eight knot, drop the knot in the bridge pin hole and (for the Kanile`a) with the bridge pin slot FACING AWAY from the string, firmly press the bridge pin in the hole. See how easy it is here (video link within the website).