Steel Trappings

Spotlight ON! Feature

Spotlight ON! Chuck Moore

January 15, 2022 • Addison ChingEntertainment

This month we shine the Spotlight ON! Chuck Moore.

Luthier Chuck Moore is well known for his Moore Bettah Ukuleles one-of-a-kind ‘ukulele creations. However, for a long time Chuck also had another dimension to his interests – the Hawaiian steel guitar. Follow Chuck as he tells his story.

My first exposure to Hawaiian steel guitar came as a young boy when I heard "Song of the Islands" playing in the background of a scene in the Christmas classic, "It's a Wonderful Life." There was something so exotic and magical in those few seconds of music!

Around the same time there was feature story in Popular Mechanics magazine titled "Build Your Own Hawaiian Steel Guitar" that waxed poetically about whispering palms, white sand beaches and the music that accompanied those visions. Building the steel guitar was beyond me at that age but I did manage to cobble together a completely unplayable guitar out of cardboard and odd sticks of wood we had in the house. (I didn't know at that time how those formidable impressions would guide my later life.)

I've had a couple of false starts with my journey into the world of Hawaiian steel guitar. The mid 1980s found me fulfilling my long time dream of living on a tropical island with a move to the island of Moloka‘i where my love for the Hawaiian culture and music deepened.

That's when I started building ‘ukulele, fashioning them first from found coconuts and later graduating to the local, and more traditional, koa that is only found in Hawai‘i. I had little guidance as there were no other builders on the tiny island and no written resources to look to for help. Of course the was no Internet at this time so most of my lutherie education was pieced together by figuring it out by looking through mail order lutherie catalogues.

I soon made a trip to O‘ahu to buy my first steel guitar, a '70s era Rickenbacker, an amp and Jerry Byrd's "Complete Course for Hawaiian Steel Guitar," along with its thirty-some cassette tapes. I mean, how hard could it be? All these steel guitar players made it look so easy. You just slid the bar up and down while plucking a few strings! But again, without further resources or a teacher, it all made about as much sense to me as particle theory. After a frustrating year of making random noises and screeches I became discouraged and sold my gear.

A decade later we moved to the Big Island, to the rural jungles of lower Puna where I continued building "ukulele and playing it regularly. In 2011, local musician Keoki Kahumoku was selling some of his instruments to raise money for the victims of the Fukushima (Japan) nuclear disaster and amongst the gear he was selling was a '70s era Rickenbacker steel guitar similar to the one I had owned a couple of decades before.

At that point I had matured in my musical understanding and took it as a sign that it was time to pursue the steel guitar again. Again, I tried playing with no instruction, just a few tabs I found on the Internet, with the same dismal result. The demands of my business also allowed little time for anything but work and the guitar laid silent and gathered dust once again. But I couldn't get the steel guitar off my mind.

I then decided if I couldn't play one I could at least build one. After all, that's what I did! That's ALL I did, build instruments! I bought plans for a Weissenborn but they too sat on a shelf unattended. It seemed steel guitar just wasn't for me.

This video is of a performance by Chuck doing "Adventures in Paradise".

The video can also be seen on YouTube.

This feature is a snapshot of the complete tribute that is posted on the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase website. See the complete tribute here.

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2022

Facebook LiveYouTube
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase

Livestream Steel Guitar Saturday
May 28, 2022 – LIVE STREAMED on Facebook and YouTube 3PM - 5PM HST

Facebook LiveYouTube
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Windward Mall
incorporating the
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
June 11, 2022 – Windward Mall, Kane‘ohe, Hawai‘i
11:30 AM - 4:00 PM HST

Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikīkī Steel Guitar Week   
July 11-14, 2022 – Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikīkī
Nightly Evening Performances 5:30PM - 6:30PM HST
Facebook LiveYouTube
Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Japan-Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival
incorporating the
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
July 15, 2022 – Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikīkī
Friday Performances 4PM - 6:30PM HST
Facebook LiveYouTube
Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikīkī Steel Guitar Festival
incorporating the
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
July 16, 2022 – Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikīkī
Saturday Performances 11AM - 2PM and 4:30PM - 6:30PM HST

AISGC
AISGC Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival

July 21-23, 2022 – Winchester, IN
Tickets available online or at the door

2022 HSGA Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival
August 11-13, 2022 – Foster City, CA
Tickets available online or at the door
Facebook LiveYouTube
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival Keiki Kine at Kahala Mall
incorporating the
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
August 27, 2022 – Kahala Mall, Honolulu, Hawai‘i
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST

Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Experience at Mauna Lani   
December 8-11, 2022 – Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, Kamuela, Hawai‘i Island.
Facebook LiveYouTube
Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Experience at Mauna Lani
incorporating the
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
December 10-11, 2022 – Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, Kamuela, Hawai‘i Island.
Friday Ho‘olaule‘a 5:30 PM - 9:30 PM HST
Saturday Twilight at Kalāhuipua‘a concert 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM HST

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About HIMELE
HIMELE is a Hawai‘i non-profit corporation that supports music enrichment and education for people of all ages. Our purpose is to educate, promote, and perpetuate Hawaiian music, Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian musical instruments.