The cutest chordophone on Earth heralds Hawaiian heritage (thanks first to da Portuguese cavaquinho et alia), so when Mauians select who’s got the best ukulele shop on-isle, they know what they’re talking about. For 20 years, Mele Ukulele–under the direction of world-renowned luthier Michael Rock–has been a haven for four (or more) stringers. Their Wailuku store carries all things uke, and it’s not uncommon to see a local celebrity stopping in for anything from a pack of strings to a new, entirely handmade ukulele (from their Waiehu factory), known for their pristine playability. They’re made with tropical hardwoods like koa (a flamed-grain favorite) and sometimes Western red cedar (which “imparts a warm, mellow, rich tone”) or Sitka spruce (which adds “volume, punch and brilliance”); like fine cigars, these ukes are best stored in humidors (fo’ realz).
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