- Goal and Approach
Our goal is to build the best ukuleles at any price. It may sound bold, but it is what our owners & musicians are telling us. We may design & build the instruments, but we have sought out some of the best players to help us test and refine our designs.
We've taken a no-compromises approach to our design and building. From the radiused fretboard, to the dovetail
|“Over the years, I have played many Ukuleles always searching for just the right combination of action, tone, and visual appeal…Mya-Moe has achieved an incomparable level of sophistication with its reso-phonic line of tenors, I highly endorse these Ukuleles!!!" –Lil Rev|
neck/body joint, to the all-geared tuners, we will go to any cost and length to produce an instrument that is perfectly suited to your playing style. We produce 5 different sizes (Soprano, Super Soprano, Concert, Tenor & Baritone), 6 different models (Tradition, Classic, Resonator, 6-String, Beansprout Banjo & Lap Steel) and we build from over 20 different woods. From all of these combinations, there is a perfect Mya-Moe Ukulele for you.
Our ukuleles offer superior voice and sustain while allowing the characteristics of each individual set of wood to shine through. The result is a line of instruments which have a consistent tone while each instrument has a unique personality. From the warm & dark acoustics of koa, to the bright & punchy sounds of maple, each set of wood brings a specific sound to the ukulele.
|"The Mya-Moe slide uke is a joy. Lyrical, full-bodied tone with just enough gritty melancholy to give it depth and personality. What an intoxicating sound!" -James Hill|
We build the perfect number of instruments--about 250 per year. It's a small enough number that we individually build each one, and it is a large enough number that we can constantly test, refine, and perfect our designs. There are a lot of custom ukulele builders, and they make beautiful instruments. But, they generally don't make enough of them that they can refine the designs. And, there are a lot of large-volume makers. But they make so many that they have employees, automation and outsourced parts. The individual instrument attention invariably suffers, and their inevitable focus on the bottom line causes them to eliminate important features.
The importance of tone can not be over-emphasized. And, in the case of the ukulele, given the small body size, getting the best tone is very challenging. The ukulele is much less forgiving than, for instance, a guitar. Small changes in bracing and wood thickness have a large affect on the instrument voice.
|"It is always difficult when searching for an instrument, yet alone a ukulele, to find that beautiful clarity, resonance, and warmth in the sound. After getting past the visually outstanding craftsmanship of my Mya-Moe, the first few chords only further solidified my love with the instrument. My new Mya-Moe represents everything I would want out of an ukulele." -Paul Luongo|
We build enough instruments (we string 3-6 every week) that we can constantly test and measure the affect of design changes on the finished ukulele. And, we build few enough instruments that we can personally make those changes in every one we make.
Wood is very organic. Every set of wood is unique and must be treated differently in order for it to deliver the maximum potential in the finished instrument. High volume makers build to a "blueprint" and don't give any set of wood individual attention. At Mya-Moe, we do the opposite.
We hand voice every instrument that we make. The thickness of the back, top and sides is carefully measured (to .001") and we custom thickness each piece to bring out the best that the particular set of wood has to offer. Our goal is to maximize sustain and potential volume while delivering a sound that is
|"My Mya-Moe uke is in a class by itself. It somehow seems to combine an extremely warm tone with the ability to cut through in any playing situation. The response is balanced and even from the lowest note to the extreme highs. No matter what I throw at it, it is ready to go." -Rick Hulett|
uniquely "Mya-Moe" and speaks of the wood. As with any stringed instrument, the key design challenge is to balance durability with voice—too stout construction and the voice will be choked; not stout enough and the instrument will literally fall-apart over time.
In addition to custom thickness and bracing, our instruments feature a graphite-reinforced one-piece neck and domed back. The domed back gives strength to the instrument without adding weight. The graphite-reinforced neck adds stiffness, thus insuring that the maximum possible string energy reaches the bridge. For the resonator & lap steel, the National Reso-Phonics cone and the custom-turned hardwood soundwell bring out a pure and sustained tone.
- Intonation, Action and Playability
As important as tone, is the playability (including action & intonation) of the instrument. It can have the best tone in the world, but if the intonation is off, or the action is too high, or the neck is "slow", it doesn't matter.
|" The uke...WOW!!!! it is perfect. Intonation is dead on. Balanced from string to string. The most resonant uke I've ever heard. I will keep it with me all the time!
Oh, by the way, your uke came in the mail today with a Grammy. I didn't open the Grammy yet! " -Daniel Ho
There are several critical elements to achieve great playability, and they include neck shape, fretwork, fretboard leveling, fretboard radius, nut slots and saddle height. We individually design and adjust each of these in order to achieve the best possible playability.
We hand-shape every neck. While the neck follows a general design, we shape each neck in combination with its fretboard so that the musician can achieve the highest speed. We carefully shape the contour so that the widest part of the neck is not at the frets, but just below the frets (about 3/32" down). This gives a slight bit of relief so that as you pass your hand down the neck, you won't feel the frets at all.
|"Playing my Mya Moe moves me... The action is seamless, smooth and natural. Expressive, transparent clarity, beautiful action and exquisite beauty inhabits the tiny form of the mighty Mya Moe and raises the bar of fine ukuleles to new heights of enjoyment and satisfaction." -Kate Power|
After the neck is shaped, the frets ends are beveled (35 degree bevel) and then polished. This gives additional player relief and removes all burrs and rough spots.
Careful attention is paid to fretboard leveling and subsequent relief. The result is the lowest possible action without fret buzz.
Mya-Moe ukuleles have a 12" radius on all fretboards (with the exception of the lap steel). This slight radius has a tremendous affect on the player's ability and speed when fretting, especially when doing bar-chords higher up the fretboard.
The nut slots are custom cut as the instrument is being strung. Our goal is to have a clearance of 0.015" at the first fret. We then adjust the height of the saddle to achive the proper (0.085") action at the 12th fret.
- Aesthetics, Fit and Finish
While tone and playability are extremely important, every player and owner wants a beautiful looking instrument that they are proud to display.
|“I have owned Martin, Mele, Kamaka and a host of other instruments and this is by far the best workmanship of any of the instruments ever." –Jeff Ellison|
We pride ourselves in our workmanship. We hand-sign every Mya-Moe instrument, and we put our reputation on the line with every one that gets delivered.
We never use plywood--all of our instruments are constructed from solid wood that is always perfectly quartersawn. For the back and sides (and top, in the case of koa, mango, mahogany and sapele), we use wood that is cut from the same block. Not only does this achieve a perfect color and grain match, and any features from the sides are carried over to the back.
For our gloss finish, we use an industrial finish that is meticulously hand-sanded and hand-buffed to a high luster.
Our matte finish is a minimum of four coats of hand-rubbed oil. With a finish of lemon oil for a beautiful matte sheen.
For all the instruments (except the Tradition), we use wood body and fretboard binding with thin purfling lines that beautifully accent the wood body.
- Attention to Detail
No detail is overlooked on our instruments. They may seem like small things, but the maple heel cap and maple end grafts add beautiful finishing touches.
The sides are always bookmatched, and as they are bent they are carefully registered so that the grain meets perfectly at the end. Since bookmatched pieces of wood can be joined in two different ways, we always look at the two possible outcomes with a body outline and pick the one that has the best features.
|"I am selling all my other ukuleles. This is the only one I will ever play!" –Larry Wyatt|
Usually the wood is oversized, so we can place the body outline in the best position in order to best suit the wood.
We are often asked about our signature custom headplate. When we first started building ukuleles, we wanted to come up with a custom headstock shape to distinguish our instruments. Char, with her background in hand-pieced window treatments, suggested that we perhaps design a custom headplate. Thus, our signature headplate was born. It has quickly become our brand and logo, and we use it on t-shirts, advertisements, and the website! And, yes, you can choose to have a headplate that matches the back & sides of your instrument instead of our signature headplate.
- The perfect Mya-Moe for You
Each one of our instruments is as unique as each one of our player/owners. We strive to perfectly match the instrument to the musician. We build in over 600 different combinations of woods, models and sizes.
|"Every once in a while you pick up an instrument that feels right at home in your hands, like one you've been playing for a lifetime. My Mya-Moe is such an instrument. " -Steve Einhorn|
But, more importantly, we build custom instruments at NO UPCHARGE from our stock instruments. So, if you'd like to pick out that perfect combination of wood, binding, size and model, please do it. And, you're welcome to visit our shop and pick out your exact set of wood. While you're here you can watch as your neck is shaped!
Your Mya-Moe will have the personality that suits you perfectly!
- Independent Reviews
For more reviews of our instruments, visit our artist page.