Our Islands, Our Future

Steve Grimes, Maui musician and songwriter, is a world-renowned luthier, a builder of stringed instruments. He is known as a master of transforming wood into extraordinary guitars, ukuleles, acoustic basses, flat top guitars, electric guitars, and mandolins that have found a home in the collections of well-known Maui artists like Keola Beamer, Willie Nelson, Jake Shimabukuro, Marty Dread, and numerous others. Grimes’ 1100-square-foot upcountry workshop includes a soundproof music studio and is embellished with photos of famous clients. To date, he has made over one thousand instruments.

“I’ve been building guitars and ukuleles since the mid-70s,” Grimes said, “In 1989 I had the pleasure and honor to meet Keola Beamer, including an introduction to his unique style of guitar. I’d seen a double hole guitar a few years earlier, but had never had the chance to have one on the bench to examine it. A few years later, I built a double hole guitar and took it to Beamer for his approval. He was enthusiastic about my first guitar of this kind so I built one to his specs. This started a long working relationship, and an equally enduring friendship. He has referred countless slack key guitarists to my shop over the years.”

On August 12th at 7:00 PM Keola and Moana Beamer are presenting a concert and film fundraiser at the MACC to benefit Mohala Hou Foundation, a non-profit promoting Hawaiian music and culture. For the event, Grimes built a tenor ukulele to auction made of select curly Koa. Grimes noted, “The ukulele has an African ebony fingerboard, bridge and peghead overlay, and light-colored curly Koa bindings. It is rosette and curly Koa, bordered by two 5-ply rings of multi-colored wood, which also trim the body and peghead. The neck is made from Honduran mahogany. I will probably string it with low-G tuning since that’s what the majority of my uke customers prefer. I will include a saddle that is designed (intonated) for re-entrant (high G) tuning so that the uke will tune optimally for either tuning. Also, to benefit Mohala Hou, I am auctioning a very rare early 30’s Martin Soprano Ukulele.”

The guitars I made for Hawaiian slack-key master Keola Beamer were a success. I asked him if I could name the model The Beamer. He said yes!

Steve Grimes, Maui musician, songwriter and luthier