Preserving History

From the remnants of an Hawaiian Tsunami to a Charis Creation. 


In the early 1900's on the Big Island in Hawaii, they had a train that ran down the Hamakua coast into Hilo Bay where they unloaded the sugar cane then turned the train around for its return trip. On April 1, 1946, a massive tsunami hit Hilo Bay that wiped out that whole bay area and many lives were lost. The railroad line suffered massive damage, bridges collapsed, trestles tumbled, and one engine literally was swept off the tracks.

Around the late 1920s, Cuban Mahogany trees were planted as ornamentals along the railway in Hilo Bay. After the tsunami wiped out the train depot and tracks, the state must not have allowed any more building in this area, as now parks, soccer fields, and overgrown lots fill the space. Many of the trees had old damage on the side facing the ocean and 180 degrees on the other side of the trees as well. This seems to have been caused by the ocean as it came rushing in. It was carrying all kinds of debris, boats, cars, etc. which hit some of the trees and went farther inland. When it came back out to sea, it hit the trees again on the other side. Some of the trees were not damaged, and the ones that were damaged had holes through the butt log, but the log above that was still good.

Here they are cutting the tree. You can see that it was covered by what’s called a “strangler fig” that will eventually kill the host tree. This Mahogany tree was cut down from one of the overgrown lots, along where the train use to run.

Cutting the "strangler fig" off the Mahogany log.

Here’s one of the damaged logs and it also shows the damage on the outside from the “strangler fig”.

We were pretty excited to get some sets of wood from that Mahogany Tree. If only it could tell us the story of what it experienced on that tragic day. Our hopes is that through Charis it may begin a new story!

Cuban Mahogany/Sitka Spruce SJ
(Thin-Body, Short Scale)


SPECS: Cocobolo Binding; Cocobolo/Abalone Rosette; Cocobolo Arm Bevel & SoundPort; Cocobolo Fingerboard Trim, Headstock Trim, & Charis "C" Logo; ; Charis Doves in Flight Fingerboard Markers; Cuban Mahogany/Ebony Head-stock Back; Charis Custom Gold Gotoh 510 Tuners with Cocobolo/Ebony Lined Buttons; Cuban Mahogany w/Ebony Binding Heel Cap; Comes in a Main Stage Custom Fiberglass Flight Case.

Short Scale Length 24.9” (13 frets to body); Nut Width 1 3/4 inch; Saddle Spacing 2 1/4 inch.

Thin Body Depth 3.375 at end block & 2.875 at heel (1" less than our Standard)

SOUND DESCRIPTION: This guitar cuts through, very clean, light, & airy! It has a wide color palette from chimey round mids to a nice bass ... no mid-range throatiness.