Continuing our series with the major Hawaiian ‘ukulele companies, we have Kanile’a. In 1990, Joe Souza worked as a firefighter while also serving as an apprentice for master luthier Peter Bermudez. Joe later would use the knowledge he had learned and experienced to found Kanile’a, meaning “joyful sound,” in 1998 alongside his wife Kristen Souza. The Souza family was from Madeira, Portugal and generations ago, the family played an instrument known as the Braguinha which is the ancestor to the ukulele. During the Portuguese immigrant period to Hawaii in 1879, the Souza followed suit, so it was destined that the family would later become one of the leading ukulele brands on the islands.
Kanile’a has since become one of the lead innovators in ukulele craftsmanship. The bracing they use, patented as TRU-Bracing reduces the amount of wood the bracing touches to increase the resonance of the instrument. Kanile’a has also made developments in bevels, and armrests and in 2019, the creator of the first tenor pineapple ukulele. High gloss models are made with a UV pore-less finish that is scratch resistant and reduces an changes to the sound.
Today, Kanile’a continues to produce high quality ukulele for all experience levels. Kanile’a ukulele are famous for their bright, clear, and rich sound. Each Kanile’a model is handcrafted on the windward, east side of Oahu in Kaneohe.