View Full Version : Sam Chang in Australia!

06-20-2017, 02:36 PM
Well - he didn't actually come here, but at least one of his ukes did.
A work colleague brought in a uke that her ex-husband's Grandfather owned. They were a wealthy family from Brisbane and had been on a cruise to Hawaii. He became enamored of ukulele and - after a quick visit to Paul Summers shop in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, brought back a uke and instruction book (I got the book too)
He loved to strum, but his wife was very controlling and didn't appreciate his little hobby. One day she got mad at him and smashed his beloved uke over his head. It sat in a cupboard for 80 years.
My friend found it and kept it till she heard I was into ukes so brought it in to show me. She was going to hang it on a wall but gave it to me because I might get it fixed and play it - in honour of Frank - the original owner, and in spite of his wife's violent reaction to his playing.
So I took it to a good restorer http://guitarrepairers.com/ and instructed him to bring her back to life!
In addition to the smashed back the neck is warped too, but everything is fixable in the end.
Here's the "before", I'll post the "afters" in a few weeks. Can't wait to strum "On the Beach at Waikiki" on it - for Frank...


06-20-2017, 04:00 PM
Love the story!
Wow! What a wife and Wow you have a great restorer !
How does it sound ?
I am surprised the wood were not dry . Any idea the type of wood?

06-20-2017, 04:50 PM
Definitely Koa wood - and very fine at that. Flaming is beautiful. Super thin wood - whole uke is light as a bees wing!
Sound - not sure yet - I thought it too damaged to bring the strings up to tension, but I'd be betting it's loud and sweet, and sounds like the ocean lapping a beach under palm trees waving in the breeze...

mountain goat
06-20-2017, 05:16 PM
sound demo upon return from restorer, please brother.
it's a beauty.

06-20-2017, 05:32 PM
Anything for you Brother. Maybe a vid of a little Hawaiian number recorded in Byron Shire will warm you up in freezing winter Tassie.
Good to know you're still checking in...

06-20-2017, 06:51 PM
They are awesome little ukes SD, I have one which is the same vintage, it also came from Summers Shop. I found this beauty in a junk shop in the 80s, it's quite dark Koa with nice figure in it, but no rope binding. Yours is real pretty! Congratulations.

07-03-2017, 07:23 PM
First pics back from Andre at The Guitar Repairers.
Back is now in one piece - all the better to see that stripey koa with. Small crack in soundboard glued and cleated.
I have a set of Martin strings ready to put on her. Just not sure what to strum first: "On the Beach at Waikiki"? Any suggestions guys?


07-03-2017, 07:54 PM
They are awesome little ukes SD, I have one which is the same vintage, it also came from Summers Shop. I found this beauty in a junk shop in the 80s, it's quite dark Koa with nice figure in it, but no rope binding. Yours is real pretty! Congratulations.
They've been on my radar for years - deep Hawaiian connection, with Martin inspired build. I haven't seen another with rope binding and/or rosewood fret-board.
Love your op-shop find. What I find really appealing is that these little, fragile things came down to Australia and survived all these years (and, in the case of mine, surviving domestic violence as well)

07-21-2017, 05:02 PM
She's back in action! Turned out nicely, biggest challenge was turning the neck back into place. Back still has plenty of evidence of her story: turns out the original owners name was Bernie, and his (occasionally violent) wife's name was Pearl. I think there's a song in there somewhere!
Will pick her up in next week...


Doug W
07-22-2017, 04:14 PM
The uke is more interesting showing evidence of Pearl's malice anyway.

mountain goat
07-23-2017, 01:29 PM
Wow. Andre did a super job mate.
First song with her?
Gotta be something Ike did. :)

08-07-2017, 05:04 PM
Here she is!
The sound is loud and sweet, and much fuller than I expected - especially so with Martin strings. intonation great, action perfect. Friction tuners were much improved by adding some fiber washes I had from some other old tuners. Tried brass washers at first but the fiber ones worked better. Nut is 30cm wide and took a little getting used to. Dynamics are wonderful - can go from a whisper to a shout.
The whole project was a romantic whim, but I'm very glad I listened to my heart.
I can't put her down, and that's the sign of a good uke.
Here's a clip - especially for you Jon, I wanted to play an old "Hawaiian" song and a Cliff Edwards song - here they are together. I must say that listening to Cliff's version made me appreciate how mystically good he was, especially in his later recordings; he brought a delicacy and intimacy to the songs that was unique to him. A true master.


mountain goat
08-07-2017, 06:23 PM
ah, it's so warm and responsive mate. gorgeous instrument
and this is a super version of that song.
hearty congrats brother. thank you for doing this one,
you floored it.

08-07-2017, 09:09 PM
Thanks Jon, it's a pleasure.
I listened to Cliff's version and couldn't really figure out exactly what he was doing - mostly his playing around with rhythm, so I decided to do my own straight rhythm version and leave Cliff to his beautiful mystery.
Some things aren't meant to be analysed.... (anal - ised?)
It is a beautiful song that would warm up even a Tassie winter, and a joy to sing.