The HUG Ukulele Story

Uncle Uke of HUG Ukuleles crafting an ukulele.

Uncle Uke (aka: Robert Yates) spent his formative years growing up on the island of Oahu and began playing ukulele at 9 years of age.  At 10 he began playing Guitar, studying with a young man who was studying under the legendary Andres Segovia. After High School; Uncle Uke studied Music Education at Columbus College (now Columbus University) in Columbus Georgia and began studying guitar building in his spare time. After Graduation he began raising a family and life seemed to quickly get in the way of his musical passions, but he still found time to perform when he could.  When he retired from the business world Uncle Uke began playing and performing on a more serious basis and eight years ago began building instruments again as part of his retirement passions and HUG Ukulele was born. Believing that quality does not have to be expensive, Uncle Uke has dedicated his efforts to making the HUG Ukulele line second to none in quality and playability.

Here at Hawaiian Ukulele & Guitar we have been building HUG Ukuleles full time for the last eight years and selling them in our shops on the Big Island of Hawaii. Soon after we started, we began supplementing our handmade Hawaiian Built ukuleles with less expensive production models from other well-known companies that we felt were of sufficient quality and playability so as to compliment our handmade ukuleles.  We became aware very early on that in order to find high quality ukuleles to offer to our clients in the lower and mid-price range we would need to find alternative sources then those readily available through the conventional market.

That is when we began developing professional relationships with master luthiers around the world.  Beginning with a partnership with a small workshop in Taiwan we began producing a line of Solid Mahogany Ukuleles that were built by hand to my design specifications. This line of handcrafted instruments quickly became an important part of our stores offerings and we always seemed to have a problem keeping enough stock on hand. 

Over the ensuing years the HUG Ukulele line of fine instruments has grown from this humble start born out of necessity to an offering of over sixty different ukulele models produced by a network of small independent workshops around the world.  From Taiwan, Indonesia and China to the Philippines, Canada and the Big Island of Hawaii; this partnership has allowed us to create a line of affordable instruments of the highest caliber by allowing each of us to do what we each do best. 

HUG Ukuleles have been so well received by ukulele players from around the world who have been making the journey to our shops here on the Big Island of Hawaii for years and returning to their homes with their ukulele treasures.  The HUG Ukulele line has been so successful that we are excited to share HUG Ukulele with you.

Our Family


Robert Yates (Uncle Uke) - Owner / Lead Designer & Builder of HUG Ukuleles

Robert Yates (Uncle Uke) 

Owner / Lead Designer & Builder
Patricia Yates: Owner / Da Boss!

Patricia Yates

Owner / Da Boss!

Dominic (Crazy Eddie) Castell: Sales Manager

Dominic (Crazy Eddie) Castell

Sales Manager

Charles Yates: Media Director

Charles Yate

Media Director