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View Full Version : Vintage Kamaka find?



haolejohn
02-16-2010, 03:44 PM
My dad called me last week and told me that his pastor stumbled across twenty ukuleles at an auction and payed $20 for all of them...That's right $1 per ukulele. I of course asked for my dad to pass my number to him so that I could check them out before he gave them away. You never know what you are going to find right. Anyways the pastor never gave me a phone call. Fast forward to today. Our road captain of the motorcycle ministry we do had hi mom pass away. I asked my dad to pick me up to go to the funeral home since my car broke down and my wife was in our other car and it was 30 degrees. I didn't want to ride the motorcycle that far in the night. So my nephew gets out of the truck and hands me a baritone ukulele and wants me to "fix" it for his friend. I tell him I'll get to it later. As we are driving down the road my nephew tells me he got an ukulele as well. He then pulls out this pineapple and the first thing I see is the double K logo. I almost peed my pants. I wouldn't put it down but I think it is a fake. Here are some pictures that I took with my camera phone. First impression is that it is in terrible shape. It is missing a tuning peg, has numerous scratches and cracks. not sure if it is a solid wood or a lmainate. The double K logo looks like a decal. There are no markings on it. The label is missing and it is not very well made. When I ran my fingers along the side of the neck along the frets, there are extremely rough edges which makes me think that it is a fake even more. So I am asking for the help of UU. What do you think? Did my nephew (who is a very good guitar player) get a Kamaka before me? BTW the baritone is a Capital brand. never heard of it either.

haolejohn
02-16-2010, 03:45 PM
Here are some more pics.

haolejohn
02-16-2010, 03:46 PM
Some more pics...

3nails4holes
02-16-2010, 04:21 PM
what an interesting enigma. let us know how it sounds if you get it playable.

i envision you taking this uke on that pbs antique show where some random guy knows all about every thing ukulele and will tell you not only the brand, but the name of the luthier who built it and you'll find that it's value is actually $4,500 or something!

why can't i stumble onto auctions like this with potential uke gold in them?!? our craigslist stinks for uke listings!

haolejohn
02-16-2010, 04:25 PM
what an interesting enigma. let us know how it sounds if you get it playable.

i envision you taking this uke on that pbs antique show where some random guy knows all about every thing ukulele and will tell you not only the brand, but the name of the luthier who built it and you'll find that it's value is actually $4,500 or something!

why can't i stumble onto auctions like this with potential uke gold in them?!? our craigslist stinks for uke listings!

same here. i wish i could see what else he got.

sukie
02-16-2010, 04:41 PM
I thought you had work to do?

Ok, back on topic -- You probably know more than an auctioneer about ukuleles.

ambrose
02-16-2010, 04:44 PM
I saw a very similar uke a few months ago. not a pineapple, and no label but the same pale yellowish colour and same neck and headstock. Older Kamaka's headstock label was a decal, not inlaid. Try Chuck Frets Fayne at Flea Market Music. He knows all about vintage ukes. Personally I think it's real.

fhorndog
02-16-2010, 04:48 PM
It's definitely a fake. You don't want that in your collection. Just send it to me and I'll dispose of it for you! LOL!!!!!! Seriously...I have seen worse go for big money! Good luck with the authentication!

experimentjon
02-16-2010, 05:01 PM
That one looks real to me. I mean the grain looks like real koa, and the headstock and body shapes look authentic. But as for the cheapy looking KK sticker on the headstock, that's just what they looked like until the 2000's. I've got a white label concert, and the KK sticker on the headstock looks every bit as ghetto.

Of course, I doubt that uke is worth very much in the shape it is in, but I doubt it's a fake, b/c I bet it's at least somewhat challenging to get those KK stickers.

Ahnko Honu
02-16-2010, 05:18 PM
Looks real to me a pre 1950s vintage. Build quality back then was not what it is today but neither was the price.

KamakOzzie
02-16-2010, 05:41 PM
Hey John, I have a Gold label soprano and your neck looks just like mine. Mine has a fingerboard extension that comes over the body toward the sound hole. My guess is that yours is an earlier one since it has no extension. Could be from the '50's. Gold label was from '54-'69. Since it has cracks, I think the rough frets are from drying and wood shrinkage. Is it very light weight?

Tigeralum2001
02-16-2010, 05:49 PM
I'm not a Kamaka expert, but I agree it looks real!

You need to offer that pastor $100 for 19 of them. Let him keep his pick of the litter. Oh, and tell him you'll string it & tune it, too!

haolejohn
02-16-2010, 06:34 PM
I'm not a Kamaka expert, but I agree it looks real!

You need to offer that pastor $100 for 19 of them. Let him keep his pick of the litter. Oh, and tell him you'll string it & tune it, too!

He gave them all away my dad told me. I was really bummed. I offered to run an ukulele course for him and fix them all up. I think these ukes came from a uke course b/c my nephew gave me some uke books to go along with the baritone. I told my nephew to keep this uke out of the elements and to not play with it. Now I need to fix it for him (at least get it in playable condition). what really stinks is I wonder what else was given away and to whom. Are they going to take care of it or are they going to throw it away or give it to the grand kids?

haolejohn
02-16-2010, 06:36 PM
Hey John, I have a Gold label soprano and your neck looks just like mine. Mine has a fingerboard extension that comes over the body toward the sound hole. My guess is that yours is an earlier one since it has no extension. Could be from the '50's. Gold label was from '54-'69. Since it has cracks, I think the rough frets are from drying and wood shrinkage. Is it very light weight?

Extremely light weight. The koa looks real and as far as I can tell the back is solid wood. The top is so thin I couldn't tell if it was real or not. Other than the missing label and the ghetto looking decal I think it is real koa. It has been abused and neglected for so long.Bums me out a little.

ukulelearp
02-16-2010, 06:42 PM
I'm totally jealous, and still very happy for you :D

Real or not, I think it's a pretty cool find.

haolejohn
02-16-2010, 06:47 PM
I'm totally jealous, and still very happy for you :D

Real or not, I think it's a pretty cool find.

It is what it is and it is no longer in my hands. My nephew went home and i want to call him and tell him to baby that uke. He'll take care of it b/c he actually can play an instrument and has 3 guitars already.

KamakOzzie
02-16-2010, 06:56 PM
Extremely light weight. The koa looks real and as far as I can tell the back is solid wood. The top is so thin I couldn't tell if it was real or not.

Sounds like the real deal. Try to find a vintage tuner before you drill it out for modern ones. Let me know your impression when you get it playing. Mine is so responsive, it wants to jump out of your hands. AND It can keep up with a bluegrass mandolin for chopping.

Teek
02-16-2010, 07:17 PM
Also not an expert but I own a white label and have handled Kamakas and that looks totally real to me. They weren't worth counterfeiting back then (50s-60s), esp. when you said how thin the top was. People who haven't handled the older ones are surprised by how seemingly crude the construction can be when compared to today's nicely fitted and finished ukes, but that's a characteristic of them, and the crappy decal absolutely, it often ends up peeling off bits. Especially that center line belly crack, a common place they crack, and the rough fret edges on the fingerboard are as previously noted from shrinkage, also common to old ukes. I would have grabbed this in a heartbeat and paid real money for it too!

EDIT: Ok, went back and looked at all the pics, I would have felt I had a deal at $200. The heel, fingerboard dots, tuners, headstock shape, fit of the neck to the body, saddle-less bridge, shape etc. plus it's koa, wonky decal, all Kamaka or I'll swallow an old tuner button whole.

haolejohn
02-16-2010, 07:29 PM
Also not an expert but I own a white label and have handled Kamakas and that looks totally real to me. They weren't worth counterfeiting back then (50s-60s), esp. when you said how thin the top was. People who haven't handled the older ones are surprised by how seemingly crude the construction can be when compared to today's nicely fitted and finished ukes, but that's a characteristic of them, and the crappy decal absolutely, it often ends up peeling off bits. Especially that center line belly crack, a common place they crack, and the rough fret edges on the fingerboard are as previously noted from shrinkage, also common to old ukes. I would have grabbed this in a heartbeat and paid real money for it too!

EDIT: Ok, went back and looked at all the pics, I would have felt I had a deal at $200. The heel, fingerboard dots, tuners, headstock shape, fit of the neck to the body, saddle-less bridge, shape etc. plus it's koa, wonky decal, all Kamaka or I'll swallow an old tuner button whole.

I think I'm going to contact the pastor and get him to contact the folks he gave the rest to and see if there are anymore kamakas around.

bbycrts
02-16-2010, 07:31 PM
John - try to get word to the pastor about what he found - at the very least if he remembers who got the ukes he can tell them that they potentially got something of real value and to either take care of them or get them fixed up.

bbycrts
02-16-2010, 07:32 PM
I think I'm going to contact the pastor and get him to contact the folks he gave the rest to and see if there are anymore kamakas around.

You beat me to it! Get back to your studies, young man!

haolejohn
02-16-2010, 07:48 PM
John - try to get word to the pastor about what he found - at the very least if he remembers who got the ukes he can tell them that they potentially got something of real value and to either take care of them or get them fixed up.

That was my original intentions when i wanted to see the lot of ukes he got. I wished he had of listened to my dad then.

haole
02-17-2010, 05:23 AM
I'll give you twenty times what your pastor paid for that one. ;)