March 2016

Big Island Ukulele Guild
Minutes of March meeting 3/19/2016

Aloha BIUG members. Our recent Kona-side meeting was unique and well received. Master builder Tom Parse offered us a tour of the 26,000 acre Hokukano and Kealakekua ranches in Kealakekua where he makes his wonderful Ulu and Hokukano brand ukuleles.

See photos in FULLSCREEN


Nineteen folks piled into five cars for the tour which began with questions and answers from Richard Hearne and his son Lee of Hearne Hardwoods, Inc., who were harvesting koa logs for their Pennsylvania milling operation. 

The ranch has a sustainable harvest of 50,000 board feet annually. Richard Hearne told us that 30% of the ranch koa goes toward musical instrument construction.

The entourage continued upcountry to view massive koa trees, open space, horses, cattle and goats. The herd of American bison were a no-show – a minor disappointment, but the landscape was unbelievably beautiful.

Stopping for lunch at Tom’s ranch house, BIUG President Tom Russell offered us a quick general meeting primarily discussing the up coming inlay workshop led by Crist Pung, and then a show and tell. 

Tom discussed his latest tenor ukulele and how two major mistakes ended up making the ukulele quite stunning.  One issue resolved a binding channel routing mistake by adding an additional abalone binding. The end result looks great. And a slight error in taping off the bridge required a unique bridge design.  He added two honus on the bridge “wings” to offset the larger-than-normal area giving an interesting design element to a typically plain area. 

Member Don Wakal built a great looking Kaua’i koa tenor ukulele. He also had a mistake to fix but resolved itself nicely.

Chris Stewart showed off a novelty soprano ukulele built using a small soap box.

Tom Parse played music with his favorite new toy: a Trio Band Creator + Looper that accompanied Tom with a backing track containing bass and drums. 

After lunch and the general meeting, the tour continued with a visit to a massive on-site bandsaw mill and a large ranch shop before continuing through pristine forestland.

Finally the group returned to Tom Parse’s tidy and organized shop where he discussed his ukulele construction philosophy, tips and his home made spray booth.


Chris Stewart – BIUG Secretary



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