View Full Version : Photos of difference between my Kamaka's satin and new gloss finishes

07-28-2010, 08:52 AM
As I mentioned in a thread about a week ago, I had my Kamaka tenor ukulele refinished from satin to gloss. As requested by a few people, here are some photos that show the difference between the original to the newer makeover version.

I still think that as a general rule, there is not a huge difference when the satin had been viewed under ideal situations (with fluorescent lights or a flash camera), but in just a glance, or less than ideal scenarios, the gloss shows the curl in the koa much more than the satin did. So I have tried to find a photo that show the satin in its natural state -- not an easy task because I usually was meticulous about how I took pictures to best reflect the curl in the koa.

Here are some comparisons taken of the ukulele under the same conditions -- no flash, just the top portion of the face near the soundhole.

As you can see, the glossy really brings out the curl in the koa. Although you do have to account for the brighter sunlight conditions in the second photo, it is that dramatic a difference. The next set of photos are of the side of the ukulele. This shows the satin finish under the best possible conditions, with lighting/flash that allowed the curl to show through, so the difference is much less dramatic.

Hopefully, this gives a tiny bit of an insight into the difference in appearance between the two finishes. As for sound, my uke sounds exactly the same as it did during the satin finish. As Fred Kamaka, Jr. noted, there is no difference in sound in their ukuleles in either finishes, they endure the same six bottom coats, it is only the top coat of finish that determines whether the ukulele will be satin or glossy.

As for feel, I did like the smooth, silky feel of the satin probably better than the stickier finish provided by the gloss. But the funny thing is that my ukulele had originally had a gloss finish on the back of its neck (I'm not sure if that was by accident or design) so the majority of the portion I touched feels the same. I actually really like that I don't have to worry about sweat/body oils in the portion of the ukulele where my right forearm rests any longer. That had been touched so often that it was starting to show a shiny spot in that area. The satin finish was also much easier to damage and the gloss hides more of a multitude of sins.

Chris Kamaka was able to remove the gouge marks and most of the scratches on my uke, leaving her pristine and beautiful. I don't regret it for a second, even though I do still see the value of a traditional satin ukulele. So on the whole, I'm very happy with my decision to refinish it, and I can't thank the Kamaka guys enough for taking care of it for me!

07-28-2010, 08:57 AM
Here are a couple of photos of the uke in the sun, which were ideal curl conditions for the satin. This is a picture of me with it in Lahaina, Maui while in the satin state.

This is in my backyard (pathetic attempt at bringing Hawaii home with my pink hibiscus tree and Kamaka Hawaiian shirt).

07-28-2010, 09:01 AM
I really like the way the grain pops out with the gloss finish.

Good choice.


07-28-2010, 09:10 AM
WW....wow that curly Koa grain is simply beautiful!!! Kamaka did a nice job!!

07-28-2010, 09:14 AM
That gloss realy does bring that curl out. It looks stunning now. I don't see many Kamaka's with that kind of curl.

07-28-2010, 09:18 AM
I had no idea that a glossy finish would make that much difference in appearance! And I thought you had one of the prettiest Kamakas already. Glad to see that it turned out well!

Wonder what it'd be like to have a satin-finish neck with a glossy body.

07-28-2010, 09:25 AM
Looks gorgeous! I'm a fan of glossy ukuleles. :D

07-28-2010, 10:54 AM
Wow - I originally voted "No, don't do it," but what a great result! Can I go back and change my vote? ;)

07-28-2010, 11:01 AM
Wow, the curls definitely stand out much better now. And the hibiscus looks like its doing well, not a pathetic attempt at all. It really looks like you're somewhere in the islands.

Ronnie Aloha
07-28-2010, 11:16 AM
Meh, it looks OK. I like my girls with straight hair... : )

mm stan
07-28-2010, 12:18 PM
Aloha Staci,
Many thanks for sharing the awesome comparison photo's of your beloved "Pele" to us..
I personally like that they used high grade figured koa on the sides to match too.
And the lighting can seem to change the color of "Pele".
It's a drastic improvement visually with the gloss, and the added protection from the finish.
I'm glad Kamaka was able to take the slight imperfections out and give it a new appearance..
And I'm happy that you're happy with the results...#11
BTW- Jus luv the photo's of you and your ukulele...Happy times.....eh...and the Hawaiian spirit with your shirt and the Hibiscus at home...
Malama Pono and A Hui Ho....."Keep strumming them strings" Ukuleles are for eva's Way to Go girl!! You Go,Go, Goooooo Girl!!

07-28-2010, 01:06 PM
What a difference! Love the new look.

07-28-2010, 01:14 PM
What a gorgeous uke!

07-28-2010, 02:15 PM
I think the value of your uke just doubled!

Looks like at least AAAA curly Koa!

I like tthe color better too!

Congrats and thanks for sharing


07-28-2010, 05:30 PM
Looks beautiful, like a jewel. I am a big fan of gloss finishes. I didn't really realize the satin ones tend to get shiny spots from handling. I would like to avoid that. I have one matte uke. I wonder if I could get someone in LA to turn it into a gloss finish?


07-28-2010, 06:43 PM
I see that you went ahead and glossed her up. Looks beautiful. I don't think I've ever seen a satin Kamaka in person, but I can say that the gloss really does bring out the curl.

07-29-2010, 04:28 AM
How long did it take them to complete the work?? I was out there a few weeks ago and had Kamaka make some adustments to my tuning keys. The were wonderful, as usual. Nice folks at Kamaka

07-29-2010, 04:38 AM
How long did it take them to complete the work?? I was out there a few weeks ago and had Kamaka make some adustments to my tuning keys. The were wonderful, as usual. Nice folks at Kamaka

I was at the festival on Sunday and asked Fred Kamaka Jr. about it and he said it usually takes about a week, so I dropped it off at the factory Monday morning before they opened and Chris Kamaka said he would try to have it ready for me before my flight left Wednesday. I didn't sleep for two days, and called the factory bugging them and I think they finished early because they either felt sorry for me, or because I was driving them nuts. But as a rule, it takes about a week to do a refinishing.

On a related note, I just noticed some fine scratches on the back from rubbing against it with a button down shirt. No more button downs for me. Only tshirts when playing her from now on!

mm stan
07-29-2010, 05:07 AM
Hey Stacie,
Maybe the finish is not fully cured, I had one uke take over a month and it was still sticky..maybe it needs time to harden..
I put mine aside for awhile until it wasn't tacky....but it was hard....Lucky I had my other ukes as back-up!!MM Stan...
Probally when it hardens later you can buff them scratches out.....Good Luck!!!

07-29-2010, 05:18 AM
Looks great! Glad your happy with the end result. Enjoy.

07-29-2010, 12:51 PM
Woooow. It was nice before but is now absolutly stunning. Good decision!

07-29-2010, 01:47 PM
that one... thats the one i want, how much was that baby?

07-29-2010, 02:27 PM
I'm still partial to the satin, but I agree it does bring out the finish much better.

07-29-2010, 02:46 PM
WOW, that looks fantastic! I think the gloss complements that particular koa curl much better than the satin did. Nice choice!

(And don't worry, I've been guilty of attempting to "bring Hawaii" home with me too.) ;-)

07-29-2010, 03:30 PM
Do you hear any difference of the sound or feel a difference with the neck.. does the gloss slow your hand down at all?

07-29-2010, 08:18 PM
that one... thats the one i want, how much was that baby? I actually bought it second hand. A guy bought it from the NAMM show, where it was a Kamaka showpiece, and I paid him $900 for it. I know that is almost close to retail, but I really wanted a curly koa one, and they are not as easy to find as straight grain or mildly curly Kamakas. Hang in there...it is worth it. If you don't mind paying the cash, both Ukulele Friend have real nice curly ones available right now.

Ukulele Friend: http://web.me.com/syacavone/Site/Kamaka_Ukulele_%28%E3%82%AB%E3%83%9E%E3%82%AB%E3%8 3%BB%E3%82%A6%E3%82%AF%E3%83%AC%E3%83%AC%E3%83%BB5 7%29.html

Ukulele Uprising: http://ukuleleuprising.com/index.php?route=product/product&manufacturer_id=12&product_id=88

Do you hear any difference of the sound or feel a difference with the neck.. does the gloss slow your hand down at all?

No, there is absolutely no difference in the sound. It sounds exactly the same. And the neck is the same because for some inexplicable reason, the back of the neck was already glossy to begin with, while the rest was satin. It doesn't slow my hand down, but it doesn't feel as smooth as the satin did.

Thanks everyone for your comments, I appreciate it. I loved that ukulele before and now love it even more. I was in San Diego for the day today and felt lonely and lost spending even those few hours away from it. :)

07-30-2010, 12:12 AM
I'm not a huge fan of gloss, I like the Satin finish. How much do those ukuleles go for?

07-30-2010, 06:02 AM
I'm not a huge fan of gloss, I like the Satin finish. How much do those ukuleles go for?

New, a Kamaka Hf3 runs about $1000. The MSRP is $1090.