Meridian’s Ukulele Maker Creates an Island Vibe


BOISE, Idaho — We hear a lot about musicians, but what about the people who make the musical instruments they play?

In today’s Made in Idaho, Idaho News 6 features a local luthier, carving out a name for himself.

When you think of the ukulele, do you have any island vibes? The ukulele is a Hawaiian instrument, originally introduced in the mid-1800s by Portuguese settlers.

“Typically, a ukulele is four strings. You can also get an eight-string guitar which would be similar to a six-string guitar versus a 12-string guitar,” he said.

“Sit on the platform. Play music. Go camping,” said Garrett Gardner, owner of Stigma Guitars.

Hearing the sounds of a ukulele drifting out of an Idaho garage might seem a bit out of place, but for Gardner, building his first instrument in high school just struck a chord.

“Let’s build a guitar, learn to play,” he said, “And from there it turned into building almost 100 ukuleles. Lots of research, watching videos, talking with other luthiers who are in the craft, read books.

Gardner was working a typical 9 to 5, then the Covid pandemic sent him home. He returned to his studio and discovered that sculpting and creating improved his mental health. And so Stigma was born. A reminder that asking for help is never a bad thing.

“It’s the most enjoyable job in the world. i have to come here [to the workshop] early in the morning, work at night, work all day.”

Today, Gardner manufactures ukuleles for customers across the country.

“You want something that’s going to look really, really good looking, but also has acoustic sound performance,” he said.

Each instrument is handcrafted from solid wood materials from the Big Island and the Pacific Northwest. He says it’s the perfect instrument to pick up because it’s so portable and fun to play.

“It’s become quite a popular instrument in several genres of music,” Gardner said.

So if you are looking your next career or maybe you need encouragement to find your happy place, Gardner says sometimes it’s no further than your own garage.

“Make musical instruments and listen to music while I do.”


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