View Full Version : I found a Kamaka

07-25-2010, 12:35 PM
I found a Kamaka on the wall of a music store in rural Georgia. The owner has a wall of about a half dozen unrestored old intsruments - not for sale - banjos, dulcimers and this soprano pineapple Kamaka. From the Kamaka web site at looks to be circa 1960's -it has a gold Kamaka Ukulele label in the sound hole, and the double k decal on the head. It looks to be in poor condition - it has a 3" or so split crack on the soundboard, two deep knicks and a lot of superficial scratches. The three remaining tuning pegs look to be shot. and the frets are tarnished.

I told him I'd like to buy it, but some one had told him that a Kamaka is very valuable, and he said he didn't feel comfortable selling it because he didn't know the value.

I'm debating wether it would be worth the effort to research some ebay auctions - print out some historical pricing and make him an offer.

It seems a shame for it just to sit there and collect dust.

07-25-2010, 12:37 PM
What would you do with it?

07-25-2010, 12:43 PM
Clean it up and play it, but I'm not sure if the crack could be repaired, economically. It's a hairline split.

07-25-2010, 01:11 PM
That sounds like one of those "honey pots," that they always talk about on the TV show, "American Pickers." I love how they sometimes find a place where the owner doesn't want to sell anything for a reasonable price. Eventually, they buy something insignificant to get the juices flowing and the flood gates open.

Before last week I would have said that I never find ukuleles in antique stores around this side of town, but last week I found a Roy Smeck soprano in one for $35. I was tempted to buy it until I gave it a close look. It had some very large cracks where the wood was actually missing and a plastic fretboard which was screwed down to the neck (that was the way it was made). I put it back on its perch.

mm stan
07-25-2010, 01:36 PM
Aloha ARW,
Sounds like the owner wants a pretty penny for it, eh! sometimes the repairs and initial cost of the instrument outweighs
the current market value of the Kamaka...You could try to explain that to him...fixing the crack and refinishing it would be
a miminum of at least $250.00 and still you will not be sure how it sounds after it's finished.. My friend picked up one
several months ago for $225.00 in average condition with no cracks...I had one in mint condition and bought and sold
it for $400.00. Of course E-bay would be alot higher... Good Luck!! I hope this helps....MM Stan....
If it's going to be a keeper maybe, but to turn and make a profit if any no...

07-26-2010, 12:30 AM
"valuable" is a relative term. You could still easily pay twice as much for a new kamaka. Contrast that to an antique Fender or Gibson, where the inverse is routine. He is probably thinking that the older kamaka is worth much more than the newer ones, thus his idea of "valuable" is out of line with reality. I don't know many who would consider a $400-$600 instrument particularly valuable, and that's if it's in playable to mint condition. With the damages you're describing, I wouldn't pay more than $50-$75, and that's if I just happened to have that money burning a hole in my pocket when I came across it.

In my opinion, it's not worth the trouble you'd have to go through to actually make this gentleman see the reality of the situation, and even then he'd probably prefer to hang out to it as decoration unless he was offered a relatively lucrative incentive to part ways with it.

Either way, good luck!

07-26-2010, 01:31 PM
Thanks for all the responses.

jehicks87, I'm afraid you're probably right. It would take a lot of educating to convince him of the fair market price, and at under $100, he'd probably just as soon keep it on his wall.

He took my phone number, so if he calls, I may make a last run at it.

07-27-2010, 06:42 PM
I'm having a similar problem with a lady who is unwilling to part with a badly damaged Favilla bari. Although I'd really love to buy the uke from her and maybe have it restored, she's using eBay as a price guide but also is completely ignoring the damage. She's seeing dollar signs, but all I'm seeing is red. I guess it just isn't meant to be sometimes...

07-28-2010, 03:28 AM
It's always fun when people ignore huge amounts of damage and try to sell it as if it's mint. I haven't run into it, but I hear all kinds of stories.

It's a shame it's just going to hang on the wall though.

07-28-2010, 04:00 AM
I hate that. I took my son to a little local guitar shop a couple of years ago. He had a few racks of playable inexpensive import guitars, and two really nice pieces: a Tom Anderson Telecaster (his personal guitar, not for sale) and an orange Gretsch 6150 from the late '50s (think Brian Setzer. Also not for sale. Wouldn't even let us pick it up and play it, even though it was out on the racks with the stuff that is for sale).

Some folks forget they're running stores and believe they're running museums.