The Ohana Rhythm line features simple, yet creative, high quality percussion instruments that can easily be integrated into a ukulele circle. Played by drummers and percussionists alike, these instruments are light, compact, travel easy, and are great just to have fun with!
The concept of the Bongolele® was first conceived in 2014 by Daniel Ho, a six-time Grammy Award winner and a dear Friend of Ohana. Daniel’s idea was to create a percussive instrument that plays like a bongo but has the shape of a ukulele body. When he pitched the idea, Ohana quickly became interested in bringing this unique creation to life. In January 2015, the Bongolele debuted as the Ohana OH-BLM, marking it as the first of its kind: an instrument that plays as a bongo and is shaped as a ukulele.
What resulted is an instrument that combines spruce and mahogany, two of our go-to tonewoods, that yields a bright yet warm tone when played. A partition across the waist of the ukulele shaped body creates the separation necessary for the low and high tones, and doubles as a handle when playing with just your hands. The wood is multi-layered to create a thickness that ensures maximum structural integrity and best possible tone, with end blocks on each end to further strengthen the structure and stability of the instrument.
The Bongolele is constructed with the shape, dimensions, and tonewoods such that the pitch variance between the low and high tones is close to a 4th or even a 5th apart.
The Bongolele can be played standing up or sitting down, or mounted on a traditional bongo stand with a slight modification on the clamping mechanism to fit the handle — all with the same basic strokes as the traditional bongo (open tone, slap, heel-tip movement, and muted tone).
Enjoy this interview with Daniel at NAMM 2015, where he introduces both the Ohana bongolele (OH-BLM) and the Ohana short-scale bass (OBU-22), both used on his latest album at the time.
Our wooden body Shakerlele® is available in all solid spruce or all solid mahogany and provides an easy way to incorporate a little percussion into your next jam session.
After the Bongolele was introduced, Daniel came up with another idea that was a perfect match to the newly-created Bongolele – a shaker that is also shaped like a ukulele. One made of real wood that would give a rich, earthy sound that can’t be found in typical plastic shakers. Daniel felt that with the shaker, Ohana would be making this perfect pair of percussive instruments for ukulele jams. Not only do these percussion instruments add to the musical sound when played together with ukes, they are also able to create the sorts of rhythms and rhythmic patterns that go along with each type of music being played. In January 2017, Ohana debuted the Shakerlele, the first of its kind that plays as a shaker and is shaped as a ukulele.
The result is a shaker that combines solid spruce and solid mahogany, shaped like a ukulele body, small enough to hold comfortably in the palm of your hand. The woods are layered on the side of each Shakerlele, alternating between mahogany and spruce to add a visual appeal, showing the contrast between the wood colors. There are two versions of the Shakerlele—the spruce version, which has the top and bottom in solid spruce with solid mahogany layered on the sides and the mahogany version, which has the top and bottom in solid mahogany with solid spruce layered on the sides. Each version has its own unique sound due to the different make-ups of wood.
Because the Shakerlele is not constructed in a uniform shape like commonly-seen shakers that have various block or egg-shaped designs, it is able to create various different tones and pitches depending on how it is held when played. When held and played horizontally, beads travel a longer distance and strike against the sides. When held and played vertically, beads travel a shorter distance but are hitting the larger surface areas of the top and bottom faces of the instrument. Other positions are possible too, and each results in a unique tone, volume, and pitch.
With these two percussive instruments in your arsenal, staying on beat will be that much easier, whether it’s a weekend jam or the next big gig. Even if you don’t read sheet music, you can still have a part in the band and jam along. Drop by your local Ohana dealer to see just how easy these instruments are to pick up and play. Add some rhythm to your everyday life with Ohana’s Rhythm Line!