Today marks one year since slack key guitar musician Cyril Pahinui passed away.

Friends and family gathered to celebrate his life, playing music and sharing memories. But thieves left the day with a somber tune.

Chelle Pahinui, Cyril’s widow, said she had just returned from a slack key festival in Seattle when she received a call from Kamaka Ukulele Company asking if she was selling Cyril’s ukulele.

“I said, ‘no,’ and the woman said well it’s down at Good Guy’s Music on Kapahulu, and I said it can’t be because I had just seen it in the storage container the week before,” Pahinui said.

When Chelle arrived at the storage facility and went to her locker she said she knew something was wrong.

“It had a strange lock on it and so I went into the office and apparently the storage building had been broken into this week and several lockers had things taken out,” she said.

Police arrived and dusted for fingerprints and took surveillance video from the facility to investigate.

Chelle then went to Good Guys on Kapahulu to pick up the ukulele.

The owners told her a man was asking $100 for it but they noticed the name “Pahinui” on the ukulele.

“The store owner immediately told the man that it’s probably stolen if he was asking $100 for it,” she explained.

The seller told the owners he got it from a guy who got it from someone in Waikiki.

In all, the thief or thieves took off with 16 of Pahinui’s unique instruments including his father’s brown steel guitar, a Koa guitar, 12 string, and mandolin—all which were set to be donated to the Bishop Museum, who is now coordinating the Hawaiian Museum Music and Dance which Cyril was active in.

“Cyril was looking forward to the instruments to be a part of that,” Pahinui said.

She’s asking shop owners and people online to be on the lookout for the priceless pieces.

“Most of his instruments are very unique,” Pahinui said.  “I’m looking for serial numbers, several George Winston will have the serial number on the 12 string.”

She said another unique feature is the grain of the wood. The 12-string has a 13th key that was put on it for Pahinui and the 12-string Martin has autographs of many of Hawaii’s best performers.

The following are still missing, (photos will be posted to Cyril Pahinui’s website)

1.     Solid body Koa EKK 19C Tacoma 

2.     Martin 12 String with many stickers on the case

3.     Martin 12 String with autographs of many singers

4.     Martin 6 String

5.     Rainsong graphite (1)

6.     Rainsong graphite (2)

7.     Mermer Koa – upper sound hole has a turquoise inlay

8.     Ibanez Koa

9.     Guild with 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.  Mandolin

15.  Bass guitar no case

Pahinui is offering a $1,000 cash reward to anyone who knows or brings the instruments to Good Guys Music in Kapahulu. “I’m willing to buy these back and I’m willing to offer a reward. We just want them back,” she said.

No questions asked.

Pahinui was grateful one piece of Cyril was there at his celebration of life today.

“For some reason, that ukulele just wanted to make its way back and be a part of that so it’s here,” she said with a smile.