Custom Grimes “Fire Koa” Tenor Ukulele


Preowned. Circa. 2021. A work of art! Custom Steve Grimes Tenor Ukulele built on the island of Maui, HI. If you were looking for the best of the best in high-end ukes, look no further! The time invested on each piece is a testimony to over 52 years of guitar and ukulele luthiery and can be seen in the quality of instruments he handcrafts and the world-class tones they produce. Absolutely incredible in all aspects of construction and sound.

Steve is at the forefront of discussion in terms of contemporary luthiery theory and technique while remaining firmly rooted in his understanding of classical construction. The application of these two knowledge bases equates to an instrument with both sound structural integrity and exceptionally refined tonal qualities. His wealth of knowledge in working with various tone woods and materials coupled with his understanding of finish work has led to an extensive contribution to the guitar and ukulele communities on the local, national, and global platforms.

Steve Grimes Bio Information

The Focus of Steve Grimes’ instruments building career has been the arch top guitar for over thirty five years. He produces six arch top models, two Kaulua model, or double-soundhole flat top guitars (steel string and nylon string), two singles soundhole model flat tops, two models of arch top mandolins, and several sizes and styles of ukuleles. Grimes began building instruments in Seattle in 1972, and moved the business to Hawaii in 1982. He met Keola Beamer, a master “slack key” guitarist, and collaborated with him on the double hole flat top guitar design. The result was the creation of the “Beamer” model guitars.

  • In 1991 Grimes teamed with Ned Steinberger to produce a “stress free” flat top guitar design, where the string tension is applied to a tailpiece, rather than the soundboard, thereby increasing sustain and volume. Gibson Guitars acquired the rights for this guitar in 1993.
  • In 1998, Grimes was selected to be among 22 arch top luthiers from around the world to build a guitar for Scott Chinery’s “Blue Guitar” collection, which spent one year on exhibit in the Smithsonian Gallery of American History.
  • In 2002 Grimes collaborated with legendary jazz guitarist Larry Coryell on a flat top, oval hole guitar, and the result was the “LC” model. He is currently working on a guitar design with George Bensen and Ibanez.

The hallmark of Grimes guitars is the close attention to detail, and the careful voicing of the soundboard, from arch tops to ukuleles, before the back plate is glued on. Grimes customizes each instrument to fit specific requests from the player, including tone, dimensions, aesthetics (woods, inlay, finish color, embellishments, etc). In addition to ukuleles finely handcrafted for world-class musicians such as Jake Shimabukuro, Keola Beamer, and  Steve has also made over 330 arch top guitars and 250 flat tops for such artists as George Benson (4 guitars), Larry Coryell (3 guitars), Leo Kottke, Paul Simon (3), Earl Klugh, Keola Beamer (6), Walter Becker (11), Steve Miller (12), Pat Simmons, Willie Nelson and others.

This beautiful Custom Grimes tenor ukulele is handcrafted from a gorgeous set of master grade “fire koa” curly Hawaiian Koa wood on the top, back, and sides. The wood was harvested in 1994 from the Umikoa Ranch at an elevation of roughly 7,500 ft on the slopes of Mauna Kea. Only a few sets of this very special wood was acquired and Steve has since never seen any Koa similar in color to the red fiery color that this set boasts. Golden curly Hawaiian Koa wood rosette, top and back binding, matching end graft and an Ebony wood veneer in keeping with the theme of a simple and elegant instrument. The Hawaiian Koa wood is truly a beautiful set and quite unique boasting a firey red color. The tree was likely harvested in an area with extremely high iron content – brought up by the flow of magma to the surface of the Big Island and deposited into the soil – giving this ukulele a gorgeous natural reddish and firey “lava-like” hue. In addition, the curls in the wood are very intense with thicker bands of figure throughout. A multi-ply wood white-purple-white purfling on the top and back compliment the natural colors of the wood wonderfully and a musicians grade Gabon ebony wood fingerboard and bridge with a curly Hawaiian Koa wood tie-block accent are a few attributes that display a subtle elegance offered by this gorgeous ukulele. The fretboard has a slight radius, adding to the comfort when holding bar chords and the wrist angle in the higher positions up on the neck. Side sound port for monitor like experience by which the sound fires upward toward the player, making it easier for the player to hear each chord, as well as forward toward the audience. Classy paua shell snowflake position markers on position 5 and 12 with side-of-neck position markers on 5, 7, 10, 12, and 15 for quick top-down reference. Honduras mahogany neck for added stability while transferring the vibrations back into the body of the instrument – adding to the sustain. Open-geared Gotoh machine tuners for precise tuning with little weight added to the headstock. High gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish for mirror-like finish.

Perfect intonation, remarkable sustain and wonderful clarity on each note. The instrument is very comfortable to cradle and is well center-balanced. This beautiful uke plays absolutely wonderfully and offers great depth and range all the way up the neck.  A recording level instrument from one of Hawaii’s most highly regarded luthiers, Steve Grimes. ID#230035

Price: SOLD

Back to the top