Tahitian 8 string ukuleles are a variation of the Hawaiian ukulele, which was adapted from the portugese cavaquinho or braguinha. First developed in Tahiti, they have gradually spread to other parts of Polynesia and are now the backbone of music in Tahiti, Cook Islands, Rapa Nui, Niue and Marquesas where they can be seen and heard everywhere. Whenever friends and family get together it's always a good excuse to break out the ukes and start singing and partying. They also go by different names such as Tahitian banjos, Polynesian ukes, Island ukes or just Ukarere
With 8 strings and slightly different tuning from Hawaiian ukes, the sound produced is higher and usually played with faster strumming patterns to suit the rhythms of eastern Polynesian music. Just as there is some variation in the music and culture of Polynesia, there is also some variation in the way the uke is played from island to island. For example, in the Cook Islands, uke strumming patterns are similar to Rutu pa'u (drumming) patterns where you get a kind of a layering or echoing effect to get that rich Cook Islands string band sound.
CONSTRUCTION: Ukes are hand-crafted from different types of local timber and fishing line gauges producing differences in sound and resonance quality. The body, including the head and neck, is usually carved from a single piece or a few pieces of wood. A wide hole is carved through the middle to form the soundbox. The hole at the front is covered with a thin piece of wood to form the soundboard, on which the bridge sits. The main sound hole is on the back. Strings are made from nylon fishing line. Anything from 10-30kg gauge line will do the damage. Cheaper strings need to be tuned more often and are more likely to break. (click here for more details on construction).
They are built generally around 75cm or 30" in length and take on a variety of shapes ranging from simple coconut shells to marine life symbols like fish, sharks, rays, turtles etc. Some ukes are built with two necks with two different tuning set ups. They can also come with traditional designs carved in and may include paua or mother of pearl inlay dots on the frets. Not only do they sound wicked but they're also mean works of art, which is why a lot of them just end up as souvenirs hanging on peoples walls. Animals dont belong in cages or tanks and ukes dont belong on walls, they need to be heard! Uke photos.