Custom ukuleles by Aaron Oya. Beautiful and elusive Aaron Oya 4-String Tenor Ukulele handcrafted by luthier and inlay artist Aaron Oya of Kapolei, HI. Aaron handcrafts beautiful ukuleles and is also highly regarded for his inlay art and has been subcontracted for special inlay projects commissioned by Kamaka, KoAloha, and Koʻolau ukuleles in years past.
The theme of this wonderful ukulele is hidden within the simple elegance and functional appeal of an instrument with a tonal personality all its own. Known for his remarkable inlay skills and attention to detail, Aaron is a master at ‘woodworking’. He emphasizes the importance of working with the natural characteristics of the wood grain in extracting the optimal tones from each piece with an aesthetic sense all his own. One such example is his use of violin billets that have been hand split and then quarter sawn for the soundboards of his spruce topped ukuleles. The advantage being that a hand split soundboard in its ‘rough cut’ stage naturally parallels the tensile strength of the wood as it splits – and from this, violin luthiers select the premium tops for their instruments. This is a benchmark feature of Aaron’s sitka top ukuleles. Built with comfort, tone, and balance in mind, Aaron’s ukuleles also employ a hybrid design which incorporates his own building philosophies with a blend between the traditional shape of the classic vintage T-1 tenor ukulele of C.F. Martin & Co. and the contemporary luthiery techniques of a custom Kamaka ukulele handcrafted by Casey Kamaka.
This elegant custom Aaron Oya tenor ukulele, boasts a violin billet hand-split and quarter sawn Sitka spruce soundboard wood with rich hues of the Western Big Leaf Red Heart Quilted Maple wood back and sides. The neck has been carved from Western Big Leaf Maple wood, being more blond in nature, and offers a subtle contrast with that of the darker colors provided by the red heart maple body. The fretboard and bridge has been handcrafted of musicians-grade cocobolo wood and the top and back binding and end graft are Hawaiian curly Koa wood. Inline or “Fender-style” headstock design. There is a beautiful abalone rosette around the sound hole testifying to Aaron’s familiarity with shell inlay. Paua shell ‘vine’ inlay on the fingerboard with leaf position markers on 5, 7, 10, and a single flower on position 12. Tusq nut and saddle and professional Gotoh closed-geared tuners for precise tuning. Aaron’s instruments also have perfectly set intonation.
A uniquely elegant ukulele in appearance, this wood combination of a Sitka spruce and maple is an attractive one in the world of ukuleles but beyond its appearance is the tonal variation offered through Aaron’s woodworking knowledge and his design that separates itself from the mainstream preconception of what a spruce and maple ukulele would typically expect to produce – most often a loud, projective, and sustained tone. It truly is like no other spruce and maple combination ukulele I’ve ever come across and in all honesty I do find myself perplexed at how best to describe the tonal qualities of this remarkable ukulele. I suppose if I had to say something, aside from the fact that it sounds amazing, is that the uke seems darker and warmer than what one might typically expect from this wood combination, giving it a nice warmth – but yet there is a remarkable value on the clarity offered by the piece.
Aaron’s ukuleles are handcrafted with all the warmth of true ‘Aloha’, and his pieces come highly recommended by those who have had the privilege of owning one. He believes firmly in the philosophy of luthiery with a clear mind and good ‘mana’ or spirit and chooses only to build a very limited number of instruments per year. A tremendously difficult instrument to locate, even if you live here in Hawaii and highly recommended.
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