Thieves steal nearly all of late Hawaiian music legend’s guitars

Cyril Pahinui's guitars stolen

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A dozen guitars belonging to late Hawaiian slack key master Cyril Pahinui have been stolen, and his wife wants them returned, no questions asked.

The guitars were in a locked storage unit with a bass guitar and a Kamaka ukulele, which were also taken.

Pahinui’s widow, Chelle Pahinui, had just returned from Washington state and the Seattle Slack Key Music Festival Thursday when she got a call from Kamaka Ukulele company.

“They told me that Cyril’s ukulele was at the Good Guy’s music store. And I said no, I just saw it a week ago and I’m pretty sure it’s in a locked container in storage,” she said.

Someone had brought the ukulele to the Kapahulu Ave. shop, which sells new and used musical instruments, and wanted to sell it.

“It’s a really special instrument that was custom made for Cyril, and of course he had his name inlaid on it, and so when it came into the music store, they kinda knew," said Chelle Pahinui.

Cyril Pahinui’s guitars were also in the locked container. His wife went to the storage unit, and found a lock that wasn’t hers on the door.

“When we cut the lock off that was on there, all the guitars were gone.”

She believes the theft happened sometime between Nov. 1 -- when she retrieved a guitar to bring to Seattle -- and Nov. 14, when she got the call from Kamaka Ukulele.

If you saw Cyril Pahinui perform, or have his recordings, you’re probably familiar with the instruments. One of them is a beloved 12-string Martin acoustic guitar.

“This Martin guitar, this 12-string is the one that he recorded all his 12-string songs with George Winston,” Chelle Pahinui said.

Some of the guitars go back to the beginning of the Hawaiian music renaissance of the 1970′s.

“There are also some older guitars, like his Ovation, and the Songbird that he hasn’t played since the Peter Moon and Sandwich Isle band days, but they were all in there as well.”

The Kamaka Ukulele had a serial number, and Chelle Pahinui said several of the other guitars also have numbers.

Cyril Pahinui passed away a year ago Sunday, and had left all his musical instruments to the Bishop Museum in his will.

“The Bishop Museum is coordinating the Hawaiian Museum of Music and Dance, and so my job was to get them all touched up and ready," said Chelle Pahinui.

There are three other guitars that were not in the storage unit. They were being prepared to be exhibited at the museum.

Chelle Pahinui is offering a reward for the return of the instruments, no questions asked. She said they can be returned to the Good Guys Music and Sound store on Kapahulu Avenue.

Info can also be emailed to Billy V at Hawaii News Now, or called in to KINE-FM, Chelle Pahinui said.

“It’s history. It’s Hawaiian music history.”

Here is a list of the stolen instruments:

  • 1.     Solid body Koa EKK 19C Tacoma 
  • 2.     Martin 12 String lots of stickers on case
  • 3.     Martin 12 String with many signatures
  • 4.     Martin 6 String
  • 5.     Rainsong graphite (1)
  • 6.     Rainsong graphite (2)
  • 7.     Mermer Koa - upper sound hole turquoise inlay
  • 8.     Ibanez Koa
  • 9.     Guild white trim
  • 10.  Morris
  • 11.  Chet Atkins signature guitar
  • 12.  Black guitar
  • 13.  Fendor 8 String steel 3 holes for legs brownish tweed case
  • 14.  Mandoline
  • 15.  Bass guitar no case
  • 16.  ‘Ukulele – recovered at Goodguys Music

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