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View Full Version : Kamaka HF-1 - Should I get it?



MikeyLikey
08-03-2017, 06:21 AM
Hello all! I've been playing guitar for 20 plus years and Uke for one. I really want the Kamaka HF-1. Is there any reason I should not get this instrument. I have a Kala concert and a 1950's martin soprano now. I have not gotten the chance to play the Kamaka yet. Is it that much better than the martin that I should spend 900+ for it? I would like to hear the negatives other than cost. All the reviews say its great, but it cant be flawless. Thanks for your help!

WhenDogsSing
08-03-2017, 06:49 AM
I wouldn't say that the Kamaka is any better than your 50s Martin soprano in any regard but it will sound different for sure. The koa Kamaka will have a woodier tone than the mahogany Martin. The Kamaka also has 16 frets whereas the Martin only has 12 frets, a big deal for some folks, me included. The newer Kamakas are being built with Gotoh UPT planetary geared tuners that are the cat's meow for tuning whereas the older Martins have friction tuners that can be difficult for some folks to get used to, again me included. (You friction tuner guys please be nice to me).

Cornfield
08-03-2017, 07:19 AM
I agree on the gotoh tuners being better.

Croaky Keith
08-03-2017, 07:55 AM
Do you think it is worth the money, your money, only you can decide, but from what I've read, those that have one, really like it. :)

For me , personally, I wouldn't spend the money. ;)

DownUpDave
08-03-2017, 12:11 PM
The old vintage Martin sopranos are considered the gold standard for tone by many knowledgeable players. Kamakas are good and it will sound different but not necessarily better. It'll sure look pretty though and that can count for a lot to some people.

Nickie
08-03-2017, 12:56 PM
You just said it for me, MikeyLikey,
You haven't had time to play the Kamaka that you have now.
Why add to the collection?
Bill is right, enjoy the ukes you have now.

Patrick Madsen
08-03-2017, 12:59 PM
Guitar player here for 59 years and uke player for seven or eight years. I recently bought a '69 white label soprano and was taken aback by how well it sounded and has a wonderful neck. I'm very finicky on my preferences on how a neck feels and plays. everything else is secondary.

I would never consider a newer Martin instrument. The older ones, pre '63, no hesitation. For Kamakas, if it wasn't a 100 year anniversary one, I'd only go with a Gold or white label. For less than 1/2 the 900. you mentioned, you could get an outstanding Gold or white label.

With you being a guitar player for 20 years and a uke player for only a year; you may end up liking a tenor or baritone more. Once UAS gets a hold of you, it's tough to say no. If the instrument makes you play more; it's worth it.

wayfarer75
08-03-2017, 03:40 PM
It should be quite a different sound than the Martin; I have a 2014 Kamaka pineapple, and based on what I hear in recordings, a Martin has a lot of volume and punch but the Kamaka would have more sustain, with a softer sound overall. And remember, if you decide you don't like it, someone will buy it off you, easily.

Nickie
08-03-2017, 03:45 PM
My apologies, I goofed, my eyes don't see printed words as well as they once did. Go for the Kamaka, you won't regret it. If I had the money....

bearbike137
08-03-2017, 04:13 PM
Its hard to beat a vintage Martin when it comes to sopranos!

ksiegel
08-03-2017, 04:48 PM
For that price, my recommendation would be to play it before committing.

Back in 2011, I went to Ukulele Source in San Jose specifically to buy a KoAloha Pineapple Sunday. I'd loved every one that I saw a video for.

But I wanted to see what all of them sounded like, so I played every ukulele that Smiley had in the place (other than the vintage ukes we'd have had to get a ladder for, and I don't know if they were even for sale.)

I played everything from $69 ukes and up, and every single Kamaka and almost every KoAloha he had, before getting to the Pineapple Sunday. I was not impressed by any of the Kamaka ukes - they were all friction tuners (which I'm not a fan of) and they just didn't have... whatever it was that I expected.

Then, I played the Grail - the Pineapple Sunday.

And it was missing whatever it was, too. I was crestfallen.

Finally, I picked up the last uke, the one I wasn't going to play, because it looked like a gimmicky thing, and I started to play.
After about 10 seconds, my wife and I looked at each other, and just said "Wow." No exclamation, no shouting, just "wow."

I played for about 10-15 minutes, and knew that it was The One.

Two days later, we went in and paid for my KoAloha Scepter.

To this day, the only Kamaka I've played that I really, really liked was Gillian's Liliu.


-Kurt

(The really funny part was, when I posted that I'd bought the Scepter, Gyosh knew the instrument, having recently played it, and sent me congratulations; We very recently were discussing a Compass Rose 5-string - the first Compass Rose I'd ever played from that same week in 2011 - that we both remembered from Sylvan Music in Santa Cruz. He had just seen Andrew from HMS with that uke, in Hawaii!)

Patrick Madsen
08-03-2017, 08:39 PM
You may want to try a different set of strings on the Martin before deciding. Southcoast strings would change the sound of your Martin bigtime.

UkerDanno
08-04-2017, 03:16 AM
You may want to try a different set of strings on the Martin before deciding. Southcoast strings would change the sound of your Martin bigtime.

Then put Martins on it and you'll never even look at another Kamaka...;):shaka:

Patrick Madsen
08-04-2017, 05:27 AM
Yes, or Martin strings lol.

MikeyLikey
08-04-2017, 10:00 AM
I decided to pull the trigger on the Kamaka. I got the 100th anniversary edition. It is so different than the martin but the sound is warm and loud and amazing. Fortunately for me I live close to NYC and Matt Uminov Guitars had three in stock that I was able to play. Of course they all sounded great to me so I got the curliest beauty I could. Two hours into owning it and I cant stop smiling.

I appreciate all the feedback.

DownUpDave
08-04-2017, 10:09 AM
I decided to pull the trigger on the Kamaka. I got the 100th anniversary edition. It is so different than the martin but the sound is warm and loud and amazing. Fortunately for me I live close to NYC and Matt Uminov Guitars had three in stock that I was able to play. Of course they all sounded great to me so I got the curliest beauty I could. Two hours into owning it and I cant stop smiling.

I appreciate all the feedback.

Fabulous, good call on the 100th Anniversary edition, I have the baritone.

There is a rutual on the form called doing a NUD, which stands for New Uke Day. When a member gets a new uke they do a NUD post with pictures and a full on description on how great it is. As they say..........no pictures and it didn't happen;). We love to see pics of curly koa.

wayfarer75
08-04-2017, 12:29 PM
Yay! Glad you bought it. Always best to try before you buy. Would love to see pics!

janeray1940
08-04-2017, 01:51 PM
I decided to pull the trigger on the Kamaka. I got the 100th anniversary edition. It is so different than the martin but the sound is warm and loud and amazing. Fortunately for me I live close to NYC and Matt Uminov Guitars had three in stock that I was able to play. Of course they all sounded great to me so I got the curliest beauty I could. Two hours into owning it and I cant stop smiling.

I appreciate all the feedback.

You're fortunate to have had several to choose from! It's a great problem to have. I was in a similar situation with a Kamaka HP-1 pineapple years ago - several to choose from, but I ended up buying the plain-Jane based solely on sound. It's still my favorite uke.

MikeyLikey
08-04-2017, 02:01 PM
I haven't been able to put it down. Kamaka 100th anniversary soprano! it sounds great. Love at first strum!

ksiegel
08-04-2017, 06:54 PM
I haven't been able to put it down. Kamaka 100th anniversary soprano! it sounds great. Love at first strum!

I'm very happy that you got to play it before buying it, AND that you had a choice of ukes. That is very important, especially at that price point.

So, Mazel Tov, and may you have many happy years together!


-Kurt

Patrick Madsen
08-05-2017, 05:02 AM
The 100th anniversary ones are very nice. Two of my friends bought a concert and a tenor 100th last week. They were very nice. Congrats on the new uke. Like the rest of us, I'm sure you're telling yourself this will be the last one I'll buy. It will be.. till the next one comes along. Enjoy!