View Full Version : So I got this Kamaka Uke...

04-21-2008, 09:15 AM
I was in the market for a new uke last week because I got tired of the poor sound coming out of my el cheapo soprano... Called a few music stores around town with no luck until I called a luthier that specializes in violins and mandolins (the only one I know of in these parts). He tells me he has a personal collection of instruments with a couple ukes, but none were for sale, but to stop by and chat with him when I got a chance. He occasionally got offers on old instruments people were trying to sell and would keep his eyes out for me. I stopped by on my lunch break and was shown the uke show in the pictures below. I tuned it up and played a quick little tune. Long story short, he sold it to me for $125 because he decided he'd rather see it in the hands of someone who could play it rather than look at it hanging on his wall.

Here's what I know. It's in mint condition. No scratches, dings, cracks, etc. at all. Looks like it's always hung on a wall or been in a case most of it's life.

It has a gold label inside reading Kamaka Ukulele, and a small sticker above the tuning pegs (pictured).

It sounds really good when played and I'm looking for some mroe information about this instrument. How much is it really worth? I personally think I got a great deal. Any info you guys can give me is greatly appreciated.





more pics here: http://www.bluemunkey.com/ukulele

04-21-2008, 09:18 AM
:eek: soooooooooooo jealous!

04-21-2008, 09:19 AM
You got a great deal on that Kamaka for sure! Something like that usually runs at least $300-400 on ebay from what I've seen. One in great condition like yours might be worth even more. You got a very nice uke. Congrats!

04-21-2008, 09:21 AM
Tht is a very good deal on a Hawiian made ukulele. Good for you!

04-21-2008, 09:46 AM
Also forgot to mention... to me it looks like it's made out of mahogany, but since I've never seen koa in anything but pictures and seen lots of variation in it's look, I'm not sure what it's made of. Can anyone tell by looking the pics?

Thanks a bunch for the info about what it's probably worth! That makes me happy, even thought I'd still love it if it was worth exactly what I paid... it was kind of an impulse buy when I saw the brand on it...

04-21-2008, 10:15 AM
According to the Kamaka site, they stopped using the Gold Label in '69 and then replaced with a white label after that time. Here's the link ("http://www.kamakahawaii.com/ukedating.html). I believe you got a great deal and an a possibly a collectors item at that (IMO). You may want to contact Kamaka Hawaii to verify your instrument @ 1-808-531-3165 (office) or 1-808-531-3167 (fax). The only thing I'm not sure about is that sticker on the back of the headstock. I haven't seen that sticker on any of the Kamaka's I've played with.

04-21-2008, 12:51 PM
125 for any kamaka is a great deal. I wish I could find some friends around here willing to give me one for that price. And if what Kanaka916 says about the gold label is true, that's a pretty sweet uke. And all the Kamaka's I've played on have the white label inside, so it wouldn't be too far fetched if we found out that yours is indeed a possible collectors item.

And if there's still that sticker on the back of the head, it may not have been played very much at all before it was sold to you.

Nice purchase.

04-21-2008, 12:59 PM
I'm nowhere near an authority on these matters, but I did a bit of searching around and found out that Kamaka had a Japanese licensee in the 60's.

In 1963, through 1970, the business had a Japan licensee, "Kamaka Japan Ltd." who manufactured Philippine Mahogany 'ukuleles mainly for distribution in the Orient.

From 1963 to 1970, to compete against unscrupulous ukulele manufacturers who tried to sell fake "Kamaka" ukuleles in Japan, Kamaka & Sons Enterprises collaborated with Tokyo Stringed Manufacturing Co., Ltd. to produce ukuleles for sale in Japan. Called "Keiki Kamaka," the ukuleles were made of mahogany, and were only available in the standard (soprano) size. "Keiki" means "child" in Hawaiian, a fitting name for the lowest-priced, beginner's model.

This information seems to jive with the information that Kanaka916 provided about the gold label that's in your uke, placing it somewhere in the 1963 - 1969 range.

In dating Kamaka ukuleles, the headstock decal and the interior label are significant. The trademark "double K" decal was used on Kamaka ukuleles beginning in 1954. This decal was used in conjunction with an interior gold label bearing the words "Kamaka Ukulele" in red and black lettering that matched the font of the decal. This combination of decal and label was used until 1969.

A quick search on eBay turned up this Kamaka Keiki (http://cgi.ebay.com/1960s-Kamaka-Keiki-Vintage_W0QQitemZ320240133114QQcmdZViewItemQQssPag eNameZRSS:B:SRCH:US:101):


It looks a lot like yours, and has a "buy it now" price of $395.

However, the headstock bears a different design:


The other Kamaka Keikis on eBay bear the same headstock logo. I haven't found any other Japan-made Kamakas bearing the headstock logo on the one you have.

Does that mean that your Kamaka is one of the fake "Kamaka" ukuleles that instigated their foray into the Japanese market? I don't know.

I bet MGM (musicguymic on eBay), a member of these forums, would be able to help you. Mike, do you or anyone else have any information about this ukulele?

04-21-2008, 03:57 PM
wow $125 is a great deal on a kamaka.

you didn't get riped off for sure - you got a really good deal.. im thinking?? around the $300 mark, if not more

I don't have any personal information... sorry D:

04-21-2008, 05:38 PM
Unfortunately, it's only worth $10.00. I'll give you $15.00 for it. :D

04-21-2008, 06:08 PM
Nice work on the research, Seeso!

Slusamson, from the pictures, looks like you got a great deal regardless! Congratulations. Uke on and enjoy! :D

04-24-2008, 11:19 AM
There is one on ebay that has the sticker on the back too.

link (http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Kamaka-Soprano-Ukulele-Mint-Condition_W0QQitemZ110246624983QQihZ001QQcategoryZ 119025QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem)

04-24-2008, 11:27 AM
what a steal!!! Nice find!

Years ago I met a family that had their whole living room wall covered in antique martin's and kamaka's... I felt like I met the ancestors of my modern 90's built kamaka...

Pretty NEATO MO-squitos ban-dito's like tyler!!!!!!! LOL

04-24-2008, 02:14 PM
I'd say the proof of the pudding is in the eating... how does it sound? You are not planning to hang it on your wall for another 30 years, are you? ;)

04-25-2008, 01:44 PM
I think that you got a good deal too. But just make sure that the intonation is perfect because that could be a deal breaker. The intonation on the 12th fret has to sound right and not ring because thats the most important part of the ukulele. This person could've gave you this ukulele at this price because the intonation wasn't that good. Other than that, you got a pretty sweet deal and I am jealous as well.:p

Kaneohe til the end
01-11-2009, 06:36 PM
i started researching kamakas, and i just now realized i have 2, yes 2, gold labels. one keiki and one tenor. the tenor came from my grandpa who now lives in vegas. (he used to manage dela hoya) the soprano came from a pawn shop.

01-11-2009, 07:04 PM
I swear, what happened to you is what I dream of. Or going to a yard sale and having the clueless guy say..."Hey honey, how much we want for that there toy guitar?....3 dollars? OK...thanks hun"


01-11-2009, 09:12 PM
I'd contact Kamaka and see if you can send them some very clear photographs. You might have a prototype uke or something very rare indeed. Companies will often work with a product line that changed more than once before it finally went to market and this may be something that somehow got sold after final changes in design were done or decals were changed. If Kamaka sees the labels and factory sticker on the rear headstock, they might confirm that it is a genuine prototype uke... in which case, it would be a very rare piece.

03-03-2010, 10:17 AM
When my grandfather was stationed in Hawaii he picked up a Kamaka, my grandmother recently passed away and my dad brought home a lost ukulele. I currently have it in the music shop as it needs a new key, but it is definitely made out of Koa and is from around 1969, but has a white label in it. I've never played an instrument, but I'm excited to learn