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View Full Version : 20s or 30s Kamaka Style 3 - Looking for Info



BradKlein
11-28-2017, 12:51 PM
Here are photos of what I take to be a 20s or 30s Kamaka Style 3 soprano koa ukulele. A friend inherited it, and I am advising her regarding value and identification and repairs.

I seem to see more of the pineapple shape sopranos than the 'traditional' shape, when it comes to Kamaka's of this earlier vintage. Does that reflect the production of the time?

I wonder if the friction pegs are original, and whether they should be replaced with ebony pegs for optimum tuning.

Also, I'd be grateful for any approximate values, once the top cracks are stabilized. And recommended luthiers in the Seattle area.

Even string suggestions are welcome. Aquila Nylgut seems a good place to start.

Thanks, Brad

104781 104782 104783

BradKlein
11-29-2017, 03:46 AM
Pictures up. Here's one more of the top. The angle minimizes the cracks, but they are there.

104802

janeray1940
11-29-2017, 04:25 AM
Cool uke! I don't have any info to offer on it, but there's a great shop called Dusty Strings (http://store.dustystrings.com/t-1-repairs.aspx) in Seattle (Fremont area) that does repairs and is very uke-friendly, so I'd start there if you don't get more specific luthier recommendations.

BradKlein
11-29-2017, 04:40 AM
Thanks Jane, if that is your name! (I come from Mandolin Cafe where we use our names for the most part). Dusty Strings was my only thought. Never used them before, but good to hear they are a uke friendly repair shop.

I should add that this was my first encounter with Hawaiian ukes. I've owned vintage Martin and Washburn - the mainland prewar instruments are really a different world in terms of craftsmanship, but I can see falling in love with the early Hawaiian makers. They must have been aiming at a much lower price point than even the Martin 0, but there is a lot of spirit in this Kamaka, that's for sure and it sounds very good even with the top cracks.

Brad

janeray1940
11-29-2017, 05:13 AM
Thanks Jane, if that is your name! (I come from Mandolin Cafe where we use our names for the most part).

Ha - it's my Internet name. :)


I should add that this was my first encounter with Hawaiian ukes. I've owned vintage Martin and Washburn - the mainland prewar instruments are really a different world in terms of craftsmanship, but I can see falling in love with the early Hawaiian makers.

When I first started playing, I thought it was the vintage Martin sound I wanted. My first up-close encounter with a Kamaka was a 1950s pineapple, and it was love at first sight and sound. I ended up going the modern route but still love vintage - mainland or Hawaiian, either way.

ukulelekarcsi
11-29-2017, 05:28 AM
A basic guide is provided by Kamaka themselves: http://www.kamakahawaii.com/ukedating.html, and a more extensive one by the Unofficial Kamaka Blog: https://unofficialkamakaukulele.wordpress.com/category/dating-your-kamaka-ukulele/. A third source is the extensive article on Kamaka history in the Fretboard Journal #10 (2008).

Kamaka started out in 1916, which doesn't make it an 'early Hawaiian maker' by the definitions of the late John King, but it is the oldest still surviving ukulele maker. The pineapple shape was patented in 1928. Rough dating is done by decals and the interior label, but your pictures don't show the latter. It certainly predates 1954, when the headstock decal went from a shield shape to the 'double k' logo. Since it has a blue background (which appeared around 1920) and features the Hawaiian coat of arms in the shield (replaced in the mid-1930s by a pineapple) that narrows it down to 1 1/2 decade. We really need the interior label to go further.

The friction pegs seem to be original. Dusty Strings can probably recommend a good ukulele luthier, and you could compare them to Drew's Guitar shop which specialises in repairs (of guitars, but also much lighter instruments).

The Guitar Price Guide gives ballpark figures for the value of these instruments, but a problem is they don't pop up very often. Hope this helps.

BradKlein
11-29-2017, 05:42 AM
Thanks for the FB Journal idea (sadly I only have them going back to 2010, but I'll find a copy). No label inside - at least not under the sound hole. So I was just dating by the decal and design. The pegs look original to me, too. I wonder what they made them out of in the period? Not ebony, or Koa.

Anyone have the Kamaka price list for the period? I imagine that most (all?) were sold on island, but maybe there were mainland dealers for Kamaka? The Martins of the period ranged from $10 for Style 0 mahogany to $55 for a 5-K - case is extra, and as much as $12. (figures from the 1931 Martin list) I'm guessing that a Kamaka Style 3 sold for about $10 in the 20s-30s??

I don't find many comparable sales, but the style #3 pineapples with the blue Hawaii decal seem to go for the $400-$800 range and that's what I'd GUESS for this once repaired.

mm stan
11-29-2017, 11:12 PM
Here are photos of what I take to be a 20s or 30s Kamaka Style 3 soprano koa ukulele. A friend inherited it, and I am advising her regarding value and identification and repairs.

I seem to see more of the pineapple shape sopranos than the 'traditional' shape, when it comes to Kamaka's of this earlier vintage. Does that reflect the production of the time?

I wonder if the friction pegs are original, and whether they should be replaced with ebony pegs for optimum tuning.

Also, I'd be grateful for any approximate values, once the top cracks are stabilized. And recommended luthiers in the Seattle area.

Even string suggestions are welcome. Aquila Nylgut seems a good place to start.

Thanks, Brad

104781 104782 104783
It's a kamaka 20s blue decal , 20s.. blue labels meant they were special builds, this is called a custom deluxe model

BradKlein
11-30-2017, 02:38 AM
It's a kamaka 20s blue decal , 20s.. blue labels meant they were special builds, this is called a custom deluxe model

Hmm... anyone want to expand on this post? Perhaps it's based on 'inside' info, published or unpublished materials I haven't seen?
I had thought the blue decal was used into the 1930s? Were the Style 1,2,3 designations a later development? What constitutes "custom deluxe"?

Peace Train
11-30-2017, 08:09 AM
For a Kamaka of this type, I’d strongly consider sending it to the source and have Kamaka do the repairs themselves.

BradKlein
11-30-2017, 08:20 AM
For a Kamaka of this type, I’d strongly consider sending it to the source and have Kamaka do the repairs themselves.

Thanks for the reply but, why? Top cracks in an instrument are pretty common. I wouldn't consider sending my 1930s Gibson guitar to the factory (and most collectors would STRONGLY advise against that). Does Kamaka keep an ace repair department going in Hawaii? Have many Uke folk used them?

mm stan
11-30-2017, 10:47 AM
Hmm... anyone want to expand on this post? Perhaps it's based on 'inside' info, published or unpublished materials I haven't seen?
I had thought the blue decal was used into the 1930s? Were the Style 1,2,3 designations a later development? What constitutes "custom deluxe"?

Yours is a 20 style with the pegheads, blue labels are just speciality designation, and time frame also.. there was no style 1, 2, or 3 kamakas designation
deluxe are special builds ukuleles, this one is with the rope binding and rosette

BradKlein
11-30-2017, 11:38 AM
Here's what Gryphon calls a 1930 Kamaka Style 3 Pineapple. I've found Frank Ford to be a reliable source of information in the past

104878

BradKlein
11-30-2017, 03:20 PM
Can you tell us when you list it on Reverb?
We have picture and know what the seller is like, I don't think we need much more information as potential buyers. You have already had a lot of free help provided in good faith by UU members. I am not sure if there is anything left to do but to post a for sale notice?

You got this one totally wrong, my confident friend. Not my instrument. Not for sale. Never gonna be. I've bought and sold musical instruments for many many years, and I don't need any help there. I've worked for the top vintage shop in NYC and am friendly with others.

And I'm well known and in good standing on UMGF and Mandolin Cafe, where I write feature stories (try google), and I produce video work for some of the top acoustic pickers. Just trying to learn more, and share what I know. And lastly, I'm not afraid to use my real name and stand by what I post.

mm stan
11-30-2017, 03:43 PM
[QUOTE=BradKlein;2018786]Here's what Gryphon calls a 1930 Kamaka Style 3 Pineapple. I've found Frank Ford to be a reliable source of information in the past

Call kamaka and ask if they have a style 1, 2 or 3..
Gryphon may be thinking of Martin and Gibson's...



do you have the blue label is 20's in the sound hole... the white labels were from the late 20's circa 1928 or late 1927 till 1935

mm stan
11-30-2017, 04:11 PM
104900 ........

BradKlein
11-30-2017, 04:52 PM
Nice photo! I definitely would have noticed a nice interior label like that, had there been one.
I didn’t put a light and mirror inside, but nothing obvious.

AlohaKine
11-30-2017, 04:58 PM
For a Kamaka of this type, I’d strongly consider sending it to the source and have Kamaka do the repairs themselves.

AMEN to that!

With no disrespect to anyone, send that Uke to Kamaka for the appraisal, and advice you are seeking, and to do the repair work, they're the only place you should be going...

Aloha :shaka:

mm stan
12-01-2017, 01:57 AM
104925 ........

BradKlein
12-01-2017, 03:14 AM
Those in business get the best deals on the internet by using their name and business address. Those of us who just play music for recreation don't need to care about the money. ...

Since I'm new to the Underground, I'll clarify for others that I'm in the social media production, and journalism businesses, not the musical instrument business. I play music for fun, and I enjoy owning and playing vintage guitars, mandolins, banjos, and ukes. I am forced to "care about the money" since, like most of us, I don't have an unlimited supply. ;-) But I have no financial interest in the Kamaka that this thread is about. Learning about vintage instruments is a lifelong passion for me, as I'm sure it is for many folks here. (I notice that the forum has no 'Vintage' section, as exists in the guitar, mando, and banjo forums. But there is so much history to the Uke - and so many collectors, I know the info is out there.)

Cheers, and Thanks to any who can contribute to a better understanding of the early Kamakas!

mm stan
12-01-2017, 04:00 AM
Since I'm new to the Underground, I'll clarify for others that I'm in the social media production, and journalism businesses, not the musical instrument business. I play music for fun, and I enjoy owning and playing vintage guitars, mandolins, banjos, and ukes. I am forced to "care about the money" since, like most of us, I don't have an unlimited supply. ;-) But I have no financial interest in the Kamaka that this thread is about. Learning about vintage instruments is a lifelong passion for me, as I'm sure it is for many folks here. (I notice that the forum has no 'Vintage' section, as exists in the guitar, mando, and banjo forums. But there is so much history to the Uke - and so many collectors, I know the info is out there.)

Cheers, and Thanks to any who can contribute to a better understanding of the early Kamakas!
there is a search though and you can use that to find posts that interest you in vintage ukes or anything else
I know you're new and it's easier to post a new post, remember this forums is 10 plus years old. Use the tools they
Provide you as we have former posts from the beginning. Happy strummings ☺ ☺

BradKlein
12-15-2017, 04:20 AM
there is a search though and you can use that to find posts that interest you ...
Happy to get to know the UU a little better. There doesn't seem to be any better thread than this one about this model in the archive - at least not that I've been able to find via search.

But HERE (https://unofficialkamakaukulele.wordpress.com/fretboard-journal-10-summer-2008-pride-and-pineapples/) is an important resource - a reprint of the 2008 FBJ story in the very helpful Kamaka Blog.

All the best and happy holidays. B.

mm stan
12-15-2017, 10:26 PM
Aloha Brad, thank you i never go to these for some reason, with the search try using different words to find what you're looking for
Could be more specific or just more general.. such as vintage kamaka special pineapple.. I dunno I don't use it as much either now
Happy holidays and happy strummings to you