After my going away party, Bob pulled me into his office, not to get me to stay, but to ask me a question “What are you going to do?” he asked, “you’re a guitar builder” I didn’t know how to respond. in my heart, I figured he was right, he usually is, but I couldn’t or wouldn’t muster the courage to agree. So I thought about for a few minutes and answered “I don’t know, all I know is right now, I can work here any more.”
the next few years I spent at home with my daughters age 16 months. my wife went back to work for a medical device company, and a year latter she was downsized and pregnant with out third child. for the next few months she tried to get a full time job while I did some piece work. I even met with the HR department at Taylor to see if I could get any job in the factory, at that time the answer was no. I ended up working for a local branch of a drape company. the job had me going at all hours of the day and night and all over the southwest. I did that job for two and a half years to make ends meet, while my wife was a consultant for a couple of different companies in central California,
about 5 years after leaving the Taylor Guitars, I figured I’d probably never build an instrument again. my life in the music industry was over… then an old friend threw me a lifeline. Casey Kamaka invited me to the Winter NAMM show. NAMM stands for the National Association of Music Merchants. This was their first year Kamaka Ukuleles had a booth, and Casey invited me to come on up and see what I’d been missing.
One of my jobs at the factory was to set up the booth for the NAMM show. I had plenty of memories of setting up furniture, tuning guitars, even getting a bloody forehead when a co-worker fell out of the back of the box truck and struck me in the forehead with a piece of crown molding.
A accepted his invite and met him at the show. there we talked about instruments, guitars, what makes instruments play, look and sound better, and I took time to meet, get to know and fall in love with the ukulele.
I own 2 Kamaka sopranos, but I had kept them in their cases since they actually belong to my girls. at the show that year I took the time to play different sizes and models. I was hooked.
in the years after that first meeting I carried on collaboration with a Casey from time to time. all t he while noodling around in my garage working on the miniature instrument. Three years later Yeah, I took a while I made the first uke. named it the “Blukulele” flame maple stained blue. it sounded ok, played well, but was nowhere near what I would consider a marketable instrument.
for the next six months I continued to refine what I wanted make, what would the final product look like. I decided that a ukulele that played, sounded and looked like a miniature guitar, I took a mold that I had created as one my last projects at the guitar company, made a few changes to it and bam, I was off, In January of this year I started Uke #002 a maple concert with a maple top. it took exactly 8 days to make, 25 hours. and New Wave Ukulele was born.
I took it to the NAMM show last January, but was not able to take in due to the lack of serial number and identifying markings. Security would not let me bring it through the doors. This uke was closer to what I wanted to produce, simple elegant and it plays and sounds great. there have been subsequent ukes that I have made and the feedback has been positive. My work continues daily in an effort to make a better instrument than the one before it. My goal is to create an instrument that sounds, looks and plays great.