Live Performance with Given Yagi
(c.2016). Mint. Custom ukuleles by Aaron Oya. Beautiful 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 Hawaiian curly Koa wood back and sides. The neck has been carved from Honduras mahogany wood and compliments the darker colors provided by the Hawaiian Koa wood body. Aaron has also incorporated a carbon fiber truss rod insert under the fretboard and into the neck for added structural integrity and sustain. The fretboard and bridge has been handcrafted of musicians-grade Gabon Ebony wood and the top and back binding are Hawaiian curly Koa wood. Gorgeous top, back, and side wood accent lines for a simple yet elegant appeal. The headstock veneer is also of Hawaiian Koa wood and compliments the body of the instrument perfectly. There is a beautiful Koa wood rosette around the sound hole in keeping with the earthy theme of the instrument. Tusq nut and saddle and professional Hipshot open-geared tuners for precise tuning. Aaron’s instruments also have perfectly set intonation, with a compensated saddle and bridge and a 7 degree break-angle at the saddle as the string extends to the bridge. This increased angle maximizes the downforce at the point of contact of the string at the saddle; increasing clarity and sustain.
A uniquely elegant ukulele in appearance, this wood combination of a Sitka spruce and Hawaiian Koa wood 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 gives this instrument its greatest appeal. It is quite light in weight and has wonderful sustain and clarity with excellent projection.
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 lived here in Hawaii and highly recommended.