About 25 years ago, Joe Souza had the opportunity to apprentice under the master luthier Peter Bermudez, one of Hawaii’s most revered ukulele builders. In 1998, Souza and his wife, Kristen, founded Kanile’a Ukulele, and their modest home-based operation produced only a handful of ukes every month. Very quickly, Souza’s reputation as a premier uke builder soared, and today, Kanile’a continues to make some of the finest Hawaiian-built instruments available.

We visited with Joe Souza at last month’s NAMM show, and he showed us the two newest models in the Kanile’a family. The acacia tenor AT-4-EQ, part of the imported, budget-friendly Islander line, features a built-in active pickup with onboard controls. The Kanile’a Tenor Premium Bevel Slotted Headstock boasts the company’s new, environmentally friendly UV natural finish and a unique cutaway design.


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