All he needs are strings

5 04 2017

My darling husband Pete is building his seventh ukulele out of a cigar box. Most are concert scale; this one is a tenor. When gathering materials, he looks for cigar boxes that will accommodate the bridge of the instrument.

Polishing with Tru-Oil  gun stock finish. “This one is more show than go,” he said.

Box originally contained “25 cigars hand made in Spanish Honduras.”

The lid becomes the back of the ukulele, and the front of the box is removed and replaced with Engelmann spruce wood. Sometimes he adds a pickup inside.

Decorative inlaid fingerboard came from Vietnam. Pete put in the paua mother of pearl from Aotearoa around the sound hole.

The black tuners called Pegheds are geared, a little more sophisticated than straight pegs.

All the ukulele needs now are strings!

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Hana hou: ukulele and family history

23 10 2011

Excited and inspired this morning!

What with a fun day yesterday at the Waikiki Shell with DH and my friends. We went there to join hundreds of others in an attempt to break the Guinness world record for the most number of ukulele players playing the same song together in the same venue. With none other than ukulele artist extraordinaire Jake Shimabukuro leading.

And connecting with my first cousin once removed J.H. Kim On Chong-Gossard to collaborate on a sequel to The Chong Family History.

Nope, we didn’t break the record. 😦 There were a little more than 1,050 ukulele players, and Hawaii needed a little more than 1,500. The Waikiki Shell has seats for 1,958.  The current record? It’s held by Sweden! Even though we failed at the Guinness thing, the effort raised a lot of money for charity. I guess we’ll have to hana hou (do it again). http://www.gofordarecord.org informs all about the effort and the event.

We're waiting for the attempt to begin AND for people to fill up the seats behind us. These are my friends Colleen, Skyler, Pi‘ikea, cousin Nathan, and DH. It was in the heat of the day, and we waited until the last minute to take out our ukulele so the instruments wouldn't be damaged (so advised Nathan who is a luthier). Bottom line: we had fun!

Of course we were surprised that more people didn’t turn up for this, especially with the social media capability that we have now. I guess one can’t just post something on the internet. You have to tell people that you posted and how to find the information. And remember that not everyone “does” the internet.

Which brings me to my cousin. I call him Jim. Around the studio, behind his back but within earshot, we call him Teddy Bear Jim in honor of his vast collection of the stuffed toys. He calls himself K.O. for Kim On, that was his grandfather’s name, that he asked for and took legally. Jim is our family genealogist.

He’s on vacation from the University of Melbourne where he teaches, to crank out a book in time for our family reunion in August 2012, or at least do the research in a couple three of weeks time.

The first time he did this was 20 years ago, and The Chong Family History told about five generations, starting with my maternal grandparents who met at an orphanage in China. Jim would come here from America as a student on his spring and winter school breaks and interview our large family. My Chong Hee Books publishing company was born, and we held our first family reunion.

My maternal grandparents and 13 of their 15 children in Kohala. My mother, seated front row and center, was the baby of the family. Jim's grandfather is standing, far right. All of these ancestors have now passed. They comprised the first and second generations. Today, generation number six has shown up. We'll have a big reunion in 2012.

Publishing was not as computerized as it is today, so I am excited at the prospect of how more creative we can be with the sequel update, and perhaps even making it available as an ebook.

I can’t wait to see Jim in person on Tuesday. Meanwhile we are tossing ideas back and forth wirelessly. I am so proud of him. He got a new cell phone and joined Facebook—finally!

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke







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