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Crafting Hawai‘i’s Steel Guitar Legacy

Nick Yee
Nick Yee
Nick Yee
Credit Nick Yee
Matt Nigro

Steel guitars have played an essential role in Hawaiian music since they were pioneered by musicians like Joseph Kekuku and Sol Ho‘opi‘i.  In the early nineteen-hundreds - Herman Weisseborn developed a new type of instrument by creating a square hollow neck on the guitar that increased the volume of the steel strings.  But the introduction of electric amplification made that acoustic style obsolete.

Now–inside a tiny Kakaako workshop the instrument is making a comeback.  For a few years now…Iseman Guitars have been replicating the Weisseborn style - crafting handmade guitars from fallen Big Island Koa wood.

Their unique sound has been re-embraced by modern players looking for a different sound- but also a connection to Hawai‘i’s musical roots. Matt Nigro is co-owner of Iseman Guitars. 

More information can be found on their website.

Nick Yee’s passion for music developed at an early age, as he collected jazz and rock records pulled from dusty locations while growing up in both Southern California and Honolulu. In college he started DJing around Honolulu, playing Jazz and Bossa Nova sets at various lounges and clubs under the name dj mr.nick. He started to incorporate Downtempo, House and Breaks into his sets as his popularity grew, eventually getting DJ residences at different Chinatown locations. To this day, he is a fixture in the Honolulu underground club scene, where his live sets are famous for being able to link musical and cultural boundaries, starting mellow and building the audience into a frenzy while steering free of mainstream clichés.
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