Feb 08, 2021 7:10 AM
Mr. Kilin Reece
"Hawaii Music History"

Mr. Reece was raised in a community of musicians and grew up playing string instruments, including Hawaiian style slide guitar, pedal steel and dobro. To the dismay of his parents, at a young age he began disassembling his families prized collection of guitars. At age 12 (at his families insistence that he learn to re-assemble the many instruments strewn in pieces about the house) he began studying luthiery, eventually going on to work with the renowned builder Richard Hoover of the Santa Cruz Guitar Company. After studying Jazz theory and improvisation with Ray Brown at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, Mr. Reece followed his love of Jazz and American roots music to New York City. There he Studied Jazz History in Brooklyn with Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra director Loren Schoenberg, and Jazz guitar with Gene Bertoncini while working towards a degree in History from Friends World College as an intern with the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. After moving to O‘ahu in 2001, Kilin became steeped in Hawaiian instrument making traditions while working at Ko‘olau Guitar and ‘Ukulele Company before founding his own shop, KR Strings, and earning himself a place among Hawai‘i’s top luthiers.

In between building and restoring instruments, traveling to Cremona, Italy to study violin making and playing in the Bluegrass band Saloon Pilots, Mr. Reece continued learning from the community of musicians and instruments that found their way to his restoration studio door. Realizing as a result of these visits, that the Martin Dreadnought acoustic guitar that he had been playing for decades as a Bluegrass guitarist traced its origins to the Hawaiian kingdom, and that the first electric guitar ever made was a Hawaiian Lap Steel guitar, he was inspired to learn more. Mr. Reece began working with the C.F. Martin Guitar Company Archives, the Library of Congress, Bishop Museum and the Hawai‘i State Archives, spending hundreds of hours unraveling the compelling story of our musical partners of wire and wood. In 2019, Mr. Reece founded the nonprofit Kealakai Center for Pacific Strings with a mission to research, restore and celebrate the pivotal role that Hawaiian, and Pacific music and musicians have played in the evolution of popular music, a legacy of global influence that endures today.