Ken & Eileen’s Ipu Resonator Ukuleles

It all started with an unusual request: “I want a six-string baritone resonator ukulele with a soprano body”. The sender was a retired fireman named Ken. Ken lives on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. After several emails, we settled on a design that was attractive and very different.

It occurred to my new customer/friend that this new uke looked an awful lot like an ipu. “What the heck is an ipu?!” you ask. Well, first of all, it’s pronounced ee’ -poo. And secondly, it’s a traditional Hawaiian drum. It is made out of a gourd and some of them are constructed of two gourds attached. The double gourd models are called ipu heke. They look like this:

Remember that Hawaiians didn’t use stringed instruments until the Mexican cowboys brought the guitar and the Portuguese brought the braguinha (which would later morph into the ukulele). Prior to these outside influences, their instruments were primarily percussive. The ipu was one such instrument.

Check it out:


Do you see it? Being a fruit, all gourds are slightly different. I totally see it.

So, let’s move on with our story. On day Ken casually tells me that his friend Eileen is going to call me and order one of these unusual ukes too. Sure enough, the next day Eileen called and we had a nice chat and she placed her order! I have my work cut out for me.

I have just started Ken and Eileen’s ukes this week. I am also building a concert Ipu resonator that is currently unclaimed. It could be yours!

Stay tuned.


Published in: on November 1, 2011 at 2:56 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. You must have been a teacher in a past life… very interesting music history lesson. Hope to see (and hear) the finished product before the ticket to Hawaii.

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