Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Waikiki, We Have Contact!

Right after going to Island Guitars, I hopped back onto the bus, aka The Bus, and headed to Waikiki to go to Ukulele Puapua.

This is one of the places I found in my research when I was still back on the mainland. It looked good online, and it turned out to be nothing short of amazing.

One crazy thing that happened on the way there though. I had the address: 2490 Kalakaua Ave #19A, Waikiki. Now, as it turns out, Kalakaua Avenue, is the main street in Waikiki, it runs right by the beach and it's where all the ritzy shops are. There are also a whole slew of hotels. One thing I discovered about the hotels and resorts in Honolulu, at least in this area, is that they all have shops on their lower level. Ukulele Puapua is actually in the Pacific Beach Hotel. No problem, right?

Actually, yes. For openers, although I had my Map Quest map in hand, I had just the street address and not the name of the hotel. And I found out that street numbers on buildings in Waikiki, for some reason, are virtually non-existent. I wound up walking about 4 blocks west up Kalakaua before I even saw a street number on a building, and then figured out I was going the wrong way. Stoopid tourists!

The trip to Island Guitars and Puapua, by the way, was on my first day in Honolulu! Learning the city by immersion I suppose.

So I arrived at Ukulele Puapua at a bit before 1 p.m. Which is good, because I had an uke lesson scheduled!

I had the incredible fortune to take a group lesson with Bruce Shimabukuro, brother of the incredible Jake Shimabukuro! Crazy or what? It's a tough task to do this stuff for the blog, but somebody's got to do it.

I'm holding an uku that I borrowed for the lesson...I didn't yet have my Kanile'a (more on that soon).

You can see by the pictures that Ukulele Puapua is all ukulele, all de time. Not a single guitar in sight. And that in this case is good!

We're talkin' ukes from $50 to over $10K. The rows on the left side of the store are the more inexpensive ones, and the ones on the right are the better quality, solid top, and typically Hawaiian made. This is what I came for. I wish I could have played all of them!

But first, I had my lesson. Bruce is totally laid back and is one killer player. He played through the tune we were going to work on and everyone was in awe. When you hear a top caliber uke player such as Bruce, you realize how powerful the instrument can be. It's unfortunate so many people think it's a toy - it's as expressive as any other instrument you can think of.

There were three of us in the group - one Japanese woman who was a beginner and one other Amurican like me who had been playing a bit. We learned some basics about the instrument and then learned the melody and chords for a tune on Bruce's new CD. He was very gracious and wrote out the music for us...I have a copy to practice from.

Bruce was also kind enough to pose with his new students - here I am with him doing the 'hang loose' sign.

Bruce does lessons at Ukulele Puapua on Mondays and Saturdays when he's not touring. If you are in Honolulu, you owe it to yourself to check out the store. They also offer free lessons each day at 5 pm (as do a lot of the hotels).

After the lesson, one of the sales guys showed me a dozen or so ukes. I had told him I wanted a solid top, Hawaiian-made, preferable Koa, tenor size uke. I could have been happy with any of the ones I played, but it came down to a Kanile'a K-1T in either satin or gloss finish. The gloss looked better, to be honest, but he and I agreed the satin sounded better.

Now I am official an ukulist (or whatever it is...).

I'll be following up with another post on my new uke shortly.

 
 
 
 

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