Heart Strings
Ukuleles & Strings



Portuguese & Hawaiian Origins of the Ukulele
machete de braca

Machete (Ukulele)

Maker: Augusto Merciano da Costa

Date: late 19th Century

Geography: Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Culture: Portuguese

Medium: Wood, gut

Dimensions: L. 68 x W (w/o fins) ±20cm (26 3/4 x 7 7/8in.) String length 43.2 cm (17in.)

Classification: Chordophone-Lute-plucked-unfretted

Credit Line: The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889

Accession Number: 89.4.2234


   Although the ukulele has long been regarded as uniquely Hawaiian, the instrument could be considered a creative adaptation and redesign of the Portuguese machete de braca, commonly referred to as the machete. The machete was introduced to Hawaii about 135 years ago by Portuguese immigrants from the island of Madeira who came to work in the sugar cane fields. Among the laborers for the sugar plantations were three talented cabinetmakers—Augusto Dias (1842-1915), Manuel Nune (1843-1922), and Jose do Espirito Santo (1850-1905), who were to play key roles in popularizing the little machete. Responding to a growing local interest in this small guitar-like instrument, Dias, Nunes, and Santo all opened their own instrument shops in Honolulu by 1886.  
   Continuing in the traditions of the early Portuguese craftsmen, cabinetmaker and luthier Guy Wright is handcrafting a unique adaptation of the original Portuguese machete de braca using driftwood & recycled woods from around the world. Guy has created an ukulele with a warm, natural sound and feel. Due to the variety of materials at hand, each ukulele is one of the “de-kind”, so no two ukuleles are identical. Heart Strings Ukuleles are available in Soprano, Concert, and Tenor sizes.

Heart Strings Ukulele 
Guy B. Wright

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