THIS GUITAR STARTED LIFE AS A
limited edition, chrome-plated Custom
Shop Strat with a hollow metal body. A well-heeled
customer in Monaco commissioned Graham Baker
from Gold 2U Ltd of Glastonbury to plate the guitar
in 24K gold. Assembly and setup were
performed by Kim Webber of Kim Webber Guitars
in the UK. Please remove your big metal Foghat
belt buckle before playing this guitar.
MAKANA WAS ONE OF THE STARS OF
GP’s 2008 Guitar Superstar competition.
He talked to GP about the slack key guitar
tradition and how he applies that to his latest
release, Venus and the Sky Turns to Clay: The Instrumental
World of Makana [Punahele Productions].
Define slack key guitar.
Slack key playing involves a “slacking” of the strings
to make an open chord. That means you don’t have to
hold that chord, so your hand is freed up. Then you establish
a bass with your thumb and over that a melody. It’s
doing multiple parts on an open-tuned guitar.
Who are some of the slack key players who have been an influence
They’re actually my teachers. I was blessed to learn
from Sonny Chillingworth—he’s a legend—and his good
friend Gabby Pahinui. Also Atta Isaacs, Peter Moon, and
one of the living masters, Ledward Kaapana.
Are you going to tour this record or play primarily in the islands?
There’s a showroom called the Monarch Room at the
Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, and I had the opportunity
to open my own room there, which was a dream come
true. We brought back a lot of the old-school Hawaiian
music. I’ve been gigging there the entire summer but I’m
planning a mainland tour. This record is about expanding
the mentality about slack key. The style still isn’t understood,
and I really want to see other guitarists pick it up,
because it’s not something that’s cultural. In its roots it is,
but the approach is universal. You can apply it to any style.