A Tahitian ukulele is distinct from other styles of ukes. It does not have a sound box. Instead, the body, neck and head are all carved from one piece of wood, with a wide hole bored into the middle. Sometimes three pieces of wood may be used, with the base of the ukulele carved from one and the other wood used mainly for decorative purposes on the sides.
The hole is the major area of interest on this style of ukulele. It goes from a 10 cm diameter on the front to a 4 cm diameter on the back. The front hole is covered with a thin piece of wood and the bridge sits on this piece of wood. The back hole is left open. It is kind of the same set-up that is used for a banjo ukulele, which is why this type of ukulele is often called a Tahitian banjo.
The strings of this style of ukulele are usually fishing line and green in color. It usually has eight strings, which is referred to as a dual string ukulele, but there can also be just a single set of strings. It is about 28 ¼ inches long, which is a bit larger than a traditional ukulele. The body is not the usually rounded shape, but rather looks much like an electric guitar style.
Most of the examples of this style of ukulele found today are hand carved by their manufacturers to assure perfection where the hole is concerned. They must meet specific requirements in order to produce the best sound quality.
The Tahitian ukulele is not as old as other variations of the original ukulele style. It came from French Polynesia and was introduced in the Cook Islands in 1990. Its début came from a band called Te Ava Piti.
This unique type of ukulele is best played with the Tahitian style of play, which means very fast strumming. It has a nice sound and produces a sound that is comparable to that of a banjo, due to the design and the type of strings used.Return to Home Page