Pono Stringed Instruments are manufactured by Ko‘olau Guitar and Ukulele. We began over 30 years ago as a small stringed instrument maker, In addition to building, we also specialized in vintage restoration and also authorized warranty service for C.F. Martin, Gibson, Taylor, Guild, and several other manufacturers.
Approximately 15 years ago Ko'olau on Oahu Hawaii decided to set up factory production of Pono Guitars and 'Ukuleles on the island of Java Indonesia. Our partners in Java have been making guitars for almost 60 years, and so combined with design and supervision by Ko‘olau, Pono Stringed Instruments are now recognized as one of highest quality guitars, mandolins, and 'ukuleles on today's market.
We promote our Pono instruments as a "fair trade" product. Fair Trade is defined as the "right" way to do make, buy, and sell in today's business market. In Hawaiian term for this attitude and practice is "pono."
In today's political arena we often hear derogatory remards that if something is not made in the US or Europe then most likely it’s cheap and poorly made. Along with this is the belief that workers are unskilled and poorly paid. And what's sad is that often this is true. Because many large scale manufacturers take advantage of impoverished third world economies, pumping out cheap imitation products. And so, that is not fair trade.
We are proudly a "fair trade" manufacturer. Pono guitars, mandolins, and 'ukuleles are produced under the same exact strict standards as Ko‘olau guitars and ukuleles. This includes technically trained, experienced, and well paid luthiers. And as important, our employees are provided with paid vacations, medical insurance, retirement benefits, and a clean, climate controlled working environment. In addition Pono Guitars are made of the highest quality materials, including properly treated woods. Many US and European manufacturers cannot claim such high standards.
So..... it's not so much where something is made, but who made it.
Because of the expense of this level of operations, Pono guitars, mandolins, and 'ukuleles are not cheap. They are affordable, but not cheap. Our original goal was to make what we believed was one of the best, not the cheapest. We could use cheaper materials, cut a few corners, make more, and sell more. But as they say "that's not the Pono way, or.... the "right" way.
Some of us here in Hawaii personally spend much time and effort actually in our Pono factory throughout the year. We have several Quality Control checkpoints both at our Java factory, and then as each guitar, mandolin, and 'ukulele that arrives in Wahiawa on the island of Oahu, it goes through another series of set up procedures.
If you have any questions, or personal requests, please feel free to email or call anytime. John Kitakis
Ko‘olau Pono Guitar & Ukulele