The Luthier and his business:
World-reknowned luthier Michael Rock, hailing originally from Boston, MA, has made his home on the magical island of Maui, Hawaii since 1981. This is where you will find the Mele Ukulele retail store, just minutes from historic Iao Valley, right before the historic Waiale Bridge. The Mele production shop is just a couple of miles away, in Waiehu.
Mike came to Maui in the 80’s, and built fine furniture, cabinetry, and spiral stairways, repairing guitars and ukuleles for his friends as a sideline. By the early 90s, he was building custom koa ukuleles and Hawaiian lap steel guitars under the Hawaiian Instrument Designs Maui brand, and was in demand as a luthier. When Rainsong Guitars started up on Maui, they hired him as production manager and sent him to New Mexico to collaborate with the Pimentel & Sons (classical and flamenco guitar builders since 1951) on designs and processes for graphite guitars. He began to further develop his own business as Rainsong prepared to move its operation to the Mainland. He received much input and encouragement from friends such as Sam Kamaka, Jr. of Kamaka Ukuleles, Steve Grimes of Grimes Guitars and Bob Gleason of Pegasus Guitars & Ukuleles. This is when Mike decided to build ukes full-time and open a retail store. Once the store opened, he realized that he needed to develop a whole new production process to meet the demand, keep up the quality level, and lower prices to where professionals could afford a professional-quality Mele. (See Mission Statement)
Very soon, Mike found it necessary to build a factory at a separate location from our retail store and to hire and train an expert production crew. Today the Mele brand encompasses not only the Mele line of handmade ukuleles, constructed from the world’s finest tonewoods, but also the new “Hula Ukes” line of affordable yet high-quality mass-produced models, which also receive fretwork, setup, restringing and final inspection at the Mele production shop. Production has increased to thousands of instruments annually, yet quality levels have actually increased and Mele has become famous for its consistency, reliability and comprehensive lifetime warranty.
Mele has become one of the major authorized distributors for the MiSi line of state-of-the-art high-tech rechargeable active transducer systems, which are by far the best-sounding ukulele pickups we’ve ever heard. We can install one in almost any Mele Ukulele, either pre- or post-sale, for a very reasonable price. We also provide the excellent-sounding Belcat active pickup system in our reasonably-priced Hula Ukes A/E models.
As the renaissance of the ukulele continues into the 21st century, Mele Ukulele will continue to find ways to provide the highest quality ukuleles at the best possible prices to professional musician and music lover alike.