View Full Version : Inherited this uke...

12-06-2009, 05:09 PM
So today, we had the annual family holiday party. My 82 year old aunt recently moved into a much smaller apartment, and was giving away all her old holiday decorations, and some other stuff. My name was called and a weird shaped package was given to me. I opened it, and was surprised to see a ukulele. Now I play guitar, so she figured I may like it. I noticed that it was koa right away, but knew nothing else till I got home, and looked it up. It appears to be a Kamaka soprano uke, she said she bought it in 1958 on her 1st trip to Hawaii. Strings missing, gotta get some tomorrow. Has 2 top cracks, the rest looks good. Is this a nice uke? I looked for pics online to match it, but none have the same pointy end to the fingerboard. Can anyone tell me about this one?

12-06-2009, 05:11 PM
i know there are people here that can certainly help you...that said, i am not one of them. but i am very jealous! congrats on the uke it looks awesome

12-06-2009, 05:13 PM
That is most certainly a very nice uke!! :eek: Very valuable, and it looks to be in great condition. I'm always so jealous of people who have ukes like these in their families, passed down. Congratulations!

12-06-2009, 05:26 PM
Hmmmm. I don't know. Questionable. Very questionable. You should probably get rid of it. Tell you what why don't you mail it to me at 32.......:iwant: Don't listen to the icon at the left. Actually I hope you know I'm joking.

Just by the nature that it is 50 years old and Kamaka is stil a well known brand today. You have something that many folks (including myself) will be envious of.

You are very fortunate.

Have a Great Day,

12-06-2009, 05:29 PM
I'm afraid I can't help much either as far as identification is concerned. All I know is that that is an absolutely lovely instrument. It's really a gift when an instrument survives in a playable condition long enough to transverse generations. Take care of that thing! Kamaka is a well-respected producer of ukuleles, and an instrument of that vintage must be worth something.


12-06-2009, 05:42 PM
One thing that might help is posting a picture of the label on the inside. You can also try and contact Kamaka and send pictures. THere were some kamakas made in japan I think (Do not think you have one of those). You are very lucky to have a nice vintage kamaka. How bad are the cracks?

12-06-2009, 08:48 PM
Kamaka has been producing ukuleles for ninety-five years. They are the oldest Hawaiian builder in the business. They started producing ukulele very early in the instrument's history and that particular uke looks to be in great shape for its age. The top cracks are minor and may not even really need repair, but they can be repaired easily if you want to make sure they don't spread.

Is the ukulele worth the repair expense, absolutely! If you start playing it, this ukulele will become an cherished heirloom.

Enjoy it.

12-08-2009, 02:32 PM
Strung up the new (to me) uke today. Had trouble with the C string, the knot was too big to get under that little holder slot under the bridge, had to really fight to get it even 1/2 way in, so the string would not slip off when I tightened. I never knew that the G string was smaller in guage on ukes, I thought, like guitars and mandos, it was bigger. Dont some folks use low G? Or is that only on bigger ukes, not sopranos? I was hoping it tuned like mando or guitar, so I could know chords already, but no dice! Well enough with my surprises, it has a sweet woody tone, as you would expect. I love it! When I was given it a few days ago, I promised I would bring it to the Christmas gathering and play a few tunes, now I gotta deliver! Anyone know a site to grab a few songs or Christmas carols I can play? I'm proficient on guitar and mando, so it shouldn't be a problem to bang out a few 3-chord wonders, or gosh, even 4 or 5 :)


12-08-2009, 02:54 PM
re: Christmas chords


both tabs and chords, be sure to scroll down or do a browser find for the word Christmas

some tricky chord fingerings can pop up in some of the songs there, YMMV


Do a search in these forums for the word "resources", there's a resources thread that can get you off to a flying start.

And of course Chordie.com can show you ukulele chord fingerings as well. Good luck!

Oh, and once you're done mastering some chords... any chance of doing a song recording and youtubing it? I'd love to hear how that ol girl sounds :)

12-08-2009, 03:06 PM
Tune it up to standard Uke tuning, GCEA and you can use guitar chord fingerings just fine. It'll play a higher chord (G fingering gives you a C chord, D fingering gives you a G, and so on), but you'll quickly learn the new chord names. Yes, the G string is tuned higher(one step below the A string. Second fret G should match open A), that's pretty much what makes it sound like a Ukulele.

12-08-2009, 04:08 PM
get it properly repaired and that baby is worth thousands.

dont get it repaired and its still worth hundreds.

my advice. get it repaired and keep it until you are 85!!! then sell it or give it to your grandchild so he/she will be uber rich in their future. lulz

12-08-2009, 09:40 PM
get it properly repaired and that baby is worth thousands.

dont get it repaired and its still worth hundreds.

my advice. get it repaired and keep it until you are 85!!! then sell it or give it to your grandchild so he/she will be uber rich in their future. lulz

My advice would be to to play it lots and lots..........but look after it well!

12-09-2009, 01:52 AM
get it properly repaired and that baby is worth thousands.

dont get it repaired and its still worth hundreds.

I don't think it would be worth thousands if it were repaired. Probably hundreds either way. I see gold label Kamakas on ebay go for about $300 and up (not up to thousands).

That said. I would definatly keep that thing, learn to play it and treasure it.

12-09-2009, 08:29 AM
I just remembered! When my aunt gave me ths Kamaka, she said it was "monkey wood", I thought it was koa. Later, I herd about a wood called Monkeypot. What does mine look like to you? The fingerboard looks lighter, like pearwood.

12-09-2009, 05:32 PM

There is mention in a piece I translated a while ago for a fellow member (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19178&page=2), of monkeypod used by Kamaka / Japan. Best give Kamaka a call and enjoy the luck that you got a nice vintage ukulele.
In my opinion, the best thing you can do is cherish it and learn how to play a bit. I am sure it will give you a lot of fun when the guitar is too big to take with you, for instance. Be cool and enjoy!

12-10-2009, 08:24 AM
When someone gave me an old Kamaka last year I emailed the company and sent them pictures. They were very helpful and answered all my questions.