After long and careful research and product development, Joe Brown and Kala Brand Ukuleles jointly announce the launch of the Joe Brown Signature Series Kala Ukuleles.
Joe was approached by Kala as he is a huge influence on the ukulele community. His powerful and moving performance of ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’ at the George Harrison Memorial Concert and on the subsequent DVD was instrumental in encouraging a great number of people to take up the instrument.
The arrangement was brokered by Sutherland Trading in the UK. Sutherland’s Steve Procter spoke to Joe’s manager John Taylor suggesting that if called and spoke to Alan Townsend at Sutherland he thought that they may be very interested in developing a Joe Brown Series Alan then subsequently met with Joe and his manager on three occasions to establish what Joe would like to see in a uke that bore his name. Prototypes were made and the design further tweaked.
All of the features – woods, fingerboard and side position marks, purfling, action, choice of tuners – were all decided by Joe. He preferred the uke to be simple rather than fancy and he felt very strongly that the product must be ‘quality’ – and this word came up constantly throughout the meetings. The Kala company even analysed a vintage ukulele identical to the one that Joe has used throughout the years to reproduce the lightly braced, ultra thin top that sounds so loud and vibrant.
Joe felt strongly that the ukes should have a low action for good intonation and to facilitate his own playing style (he tends to hold the uke high, under his chin, and right hand playing, rolls etc, would be more difficult if the uke had a high action).
The result was the Joe Brown Signature Series ukuleles. These will be available in two ranges: one all solid mahogany and the other with solid spruce top and solid koa back and sides. Each range consists of a full set of soprano, concert, tenor and baritone sizes. Joe’s signature is embossed in gold on the headstock and each instrument will have its own unique serial number.
The arrangement was finalised on Saturday 15th August when Kala’s owner Mike Upton came across from California to visit Joe Brown and present him with two complete sets of the instruments that bear his name. These were used on the Joe Brown Autumn Tour 2009.
The solid spruce / solid koa soprano model was available in September and the other seven models arrived in February 2010.