What's up with your headstock design?
When Gordon was building the first ukulele, he wanted Char's help designing a custom shape for the headstock. She, who was at the time still making hand-pieced roman shades, said that maybe it would be better to have a custom overlay instead of a shape. Gordon scoffed at her (of course), remarking that it would be way too hard to implement. Char explained how it could be done (based on how she made the shades) and Gordon saw the potential.
The picture on the left is Gordon with his two daughters (Kristy & Jenny) with Char's shades in the background.
This ranks among the top 5 best things that ever happened to Mya-Moe Ukuleles. Each headstock is unique (the overlay is glued up differently and/or rotated differently), yet they all are instantly recognizable. You can be in an audience of thousands, and that headstock jumps out from on-stage.
We do, upon request, provide other versions of the headstock including higher contrast (ebony/maple) and lower contrast (cherry/maple). We also will do a standard headstock and match it to the body wood.
Where did the name "Mya-Moe" come from?
Moe Dixon (professional touring musician) owns one of Gordon's early guitars. In January 2008, Moe asked Gordon to build him a ukulele. Early on, Moe played every ukulele that Gordon & Char made.
When we decided to give the ukuleles their own name (to differentiate them from the guitars), we wanted something that sounded vaguely Hawaiian, and we wanted to pay homage to the inspiration and help that Moe had provided. So, we thought of combining our names in some way. Let's see... ...Gordon-Moe, no... ...Mayer-Dixon, not really... ...but maybe some play on Mayer-Moe...
So we rearranged the first 3 letters in "Mayer", came up with Mya-Moe, and changed the pronunciation of Moe to "Mo-a (long a-sound)". Originally we put an accent over the "e" in Moe, but quickly realized that it was very hard to do an internet search on that, so we dropped the accent but still pronounce it the same way.
How do you pronounce "Mya-Moe"?
Since we removed the accent over the "e" in Moe, the name gets pronounced any number of ways. As long as you're playing one, you can say it any way you'd like.
But, if you'd like to know how it is supposed to be pronounced, check out these sound files:
Thanks to Josh Taylor and his wife for putting these together!
What's the serial number of the first ukulele, and why?
19. It was the 19th stringed instrument that Gordon had built (a koa classic owned by Moe). The second ukulele was #21 (a koa resonator, owned by Moe originally, and now Tommy Shreve). The third one was #26 (a koa resonator owned by Larry Wyatt) and they are sequential after that.
During the time that Gordon built the first 3 ukuleles, he completed a jazz guitar, a classical guitar, and 3 f-type mandolins. Don't ask him to build any of those instruments. He & Char now exclusively build ukuleles.
To this day, if you want to know what number ukulele you own, subtract 23 from the serial number to account for the other stringed instruments Gordon built.
What was the first ukulele that Char named?
"The Goddess", owned by Le Hanson. It is a Camatillo Rosewood classic.
What was the first stringed instrument that Gordon built?
A mountain dulcimer, which his parents proudly display in their dining room.
Gordon had been buiding some furniture as a hobby, and in 2003 decided to learn to play guitar, so he bought his first one. Six months later he bought a 2nd guitar, and realized that this trend would lead to bankruptcy. He decided to learn to build guitars, and thought that a mountain dulcimer would be a good way to start (it was).
By the way, his second stringed instrument was a guitar, which his parents also own & display.
What was the first ukulele that Char signed?
We don't know!
In the beginning, Gordon built the ukuleles, but started to get overwhelmed with orders. He was thinking of hiring a helper, when Char volunteered to help out. She started by doing some thickness sanding and other mundane tasks, and didn't think she made enough of a contribution to sign the label. Within a short period of time, Char was building the bodies and finally felt worthy of signing the instruments.
We think this happened somewhere around the 10th uke, but we don't know for sure.
Who was the first person to purchase a Mya-Moe?
Ray Fair, whom we lost in late 2009 to melanoma. Moe, Char and Gordon were visiting Artichoke Music (a Portland music store) in mid-2008 to show them the early ukes. They had two that were completed (a classic and a resonator), and a few bodies in mid-construction, one of which was a Zebrawood Classic. Ray walked in off the street looking for a higher-end uke. He saw the half-finished Zebrawood, and bought it on the spot.
Ray willed that instrument back to us, and it now hangs proudly on our wall.
How many instruments are in each batch that Gordon, Char & Aaron build?
Trick question. They don't build in batches. Every shop day they start and finish one or two ukuleles. Each instrument takes 14 working days to build. They feel that this approach is the best way to monitor the quality of the building process, and it allows them to quickly experiment with new designs.