View Full Version : Woods used in Kamaka gold label ukuleles

Jerome collector
03-18-2017, 11:16 AM
I joined Ukulele Underground a few weeks ago, but this is my first post. My wife and I dipped our toes in the vintage ukulele market last month, when we purchase a circa 1958 gold label Kamaka ukulele. My reason for believing it dates to 1958 is that, under bright light and magnification, I'm pretty certain I can see "58" (my wife thinks I'm hallucinating), along with other indecipherable letters and possibly numbers, written in faint pencil on the brace inside the body where the neck attaches. In doing research on our purchase, I ran across a 1958 advertisement (http://www.oocities.org/~ukulele/kamaka.html) for Kamaka that shows three models. One of the models, the #800A, is described as being made of koa, milo, and ohia. The model #800A has the same style fretboard as ours. We noticed that our ukulele is made of at least three different woods. The body is koa. I believe that the fretboard may be ohia, and the neck (or part of it anyway) may be milo. That said, I'm no Hawaiian hardwood expert. I'm hoping someone on the message board may have more familiarity with Hawaiian woods and can set us straight.

Incidentally, the ukulele had its original strings, according to the owner. They were pretty much shot, and I replaced them initially with Aquila New Nylgut strings. After a few weeks I tried Martin M600s, which both of us prefer over the Aquilas. I'm waiting to try a set of strings from Kamaka that should be arriving any day.


03-18-2017, 11:46 AM
All the wood looks like Koa to me. I've had several of these over the years and they were definitely Koa.

03-18-2017, 12:22 PM
Many think that Kamaka strings are not very good. I have a Kamaka tenor and the only thing I disliked we the strings. I love Fremont Black Line and use them on my Kanilea as well. I've never been a fan of Aguilas and took them off my Kanilea after 2 days.

mm stan
03-21-2017, 02:35 AM
The Johnny Lai info is incorrect and there is no mention of milo or ohia

Jerome collector
03-21-2017, 02:36 PM
It took me a few minutes to realize who Johnny Lai was, but I don't see how his recollections play into my question. The Kamaka ad purportedly from 1958 clearly states that the model #800A was made of koa, milo, and ohia. Whether it's from 1958 or not, I'm not sure, but it predates statehood and the move from King St. to South St. I'm confused!

mm stan
03-22-2017, 01:37 AM
I've never seen one or heard of one in milo, im sure if I ask Chris he would say ask my dad .. :)

Jerome collector
03-22-2017, 01:47 AM
The reference to milo and ohia in the ad must be to some of the woods used more for decorative accents, similar to ebony and rosewood for fretboards today. If the Kamakas (or your dad) know of this ad and how the description matched ukuleles from the period, I'd love to hear about it.

mm stan
03-22-2017, 02:20 AM
I've never seen even milo binding on any kamaka vintage or current.

03-22-2017, 08:15 PM
The Johnny Lai info is incorrect and there is no mention of milo or ohia

So good to see you posting your words of wisdom here again!