‘Slack-key ukulele’
makes its Hawaii

An Oahu-born musician from
Los Angeles will unveil a six-string
tenor uke at Saturday’s Jam IV

The ukulele, the original baby guitar, is growing up.

Oahu-born musician Daniel Ho performs in Saturday's Ukulele Jam IV at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, and will also teach anyone who wants to learn to play or improve their skills, while introducing KoAloha's new six-string D6 ukulele.

Ukulele Jam IV

With Daniel Ho, featuring ukulele lessons and introduction of KoAloha Ukulele's new six-string D6.


Place: Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, 2335 Kalakaua Ave., second-floor lobby

When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday for beginners; 1 to 3 p.m. for intermediate and advanced; bring your ukulele

Admission: Free and open to the public; $3 validated parking

Call: 921-9731

Ho only recently took up the custom, six-string curly koa instrument with two extra strings he plays like a guitar. The uke is valued at $2,500. A commercial model by KoAloha is expected to sell for about $1,000. The company is located at 744 Kohua St.

"I'm primarily a composer and a guitar player," says Ho, who lives in Los Angeles and has recorded 18 CDs as a solo artist. "The traditional (four-string) ukulele clearly does not have the ... range to cover the bass and melody notes ... at the same time like a guitar."

So Ho wanted a ukulele that allowed him to play different chords.

"With four strings you're able to suggest harmony, but a lot of chords have five or six notes that you cannot produce on a traditional uke," he said. "As a soloist, I wasn't able to play many pieces on a ukulele, so I had to have this other instrument made so I had a full range of options ... and realize the pieces as they are written."

Ho also is trying to find what he calls "a more individual voice" for his music.

"I can play slack-key guitar when I use this instrument, so I call it slack-key ukulele," he said. "Now everything I play on my guitar I can do on this ukulele."


Daniel Ho: Presents a Saturday workshop

The actual construction took KoAloha about a month, although discussions between Ho and designer Paul Okami went on for "years," Ho said.

Okami wanted more bass, so he made the instrument's base thicker; Ho needed the neck widened because his fingers were touching too many strings at one time.

KoAloha didn't want to make "a small guitar," so that's why the instrument is made of koa in a tenor body, Ho said. The six strings do not all have individual pitches since there are two double strings.

"Any acoustic guitar player could pick this up and play it like a little guitar," Ho said.

Ho will use the D6 during part of his instructions on Saturday.

"The highest four pitches are the same as a ukulele, so I don't have to use the other two strings," he said.

Ho used the instrument on three songs on Ozzie Kotani's slack-key album scheduled to debut in May.

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