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View Full Version : A Trip to the Kamaka Factory



edubya
12-17-2010, 11:12 AM
I got to visit the Kamaka factory in Honolulu last week. They have a daily free tour and show how they hand make all of the ukes. Fred Kamaka Jr. took four of us around.

One thing that was especially awesome was near the end of the tour. I was asking Fred about the various koa qualities (1-5A, etc.) and happened to see two custom models at the far end of the workshop. He said those were 5A and from a special set. Being a total uke nerd I asked "The 100 Jake models?"...

Yes!

Not only, that, but he let me take a few photos....

http://www.flickr.com/photos/edubya/5268981945/in/set-72157625492768247/

There's more photos of the factory in the link above.

He said they have only shipped about 24 of the 100 from the lottery, I guess they have very detailed specs. If you happen to have an extra day in Oahu, or you get rained out of day, I highly recommend this 30 minute tour!

Arr4fun
12-17-2010, 01:38 PM
My wife & I did that tour in September; also did the Koaloha tour. Both were very interesting to us & she doesn't even play!

Two lips
12-17-2010, 01:41 PM
Very cool thanks for the pic.

Kalihonu
12-17-2010, 05:54 PM
Aloha edubya, looks like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

molokinirum
12-17-2010, 06:06 PM
Very cool....did you buy yourself a Kamaka????
Thanks for the pics!

Hippie Dribble
12-17-2010, 07:22 PM
g'day Ed

Thanks for sharing the photos mate. There are sure some lovely spots in Hawaii. I've never seen those places before so the awesome photos are much appreciated. And yeah, like Kalihonu said, you two looked as though you were having a ball, some great corny shots with extra cheese . Love 'em! :)

DAPuke
12-18-2010, 06:10 AM
Thanks so much for posting this, UAS fenzy anyone?
DAP

wickedwahine11
12-18-2010, 07:37 AM
It is a great tour isn't it? I did the Kamaka, KoAloha and Kanile'a and the Kamaka tour was my favorite. I think because of all the history behind the brand (they are only a few years away from 100 in the business). Thanks for sharing. :)

Mandarb
12-20-2010, 03:16 AM
Very cool - thanks for sharing the pics.

edubya
12-20-2010, 06:03 AM
Haha, I wish! They had this board in the main shop with the prices. The first one was $700. Since my wife thought my $300 Bushman was expensive, I didn't even try! ;-)

mikeg0232
12-20-2010, 10:53 AM
Thanks for sharing the pics! I was able to reminisce a bit. I went there on a similar field trip as a fourth grader and bought my first ukulele. They were not nearly as expensive back then. I got their basic soprano model for around 50 bucks. This was in the early 70's.

Gillian
12-20-2010, 03:29 PM
My hubby and I went on the "3K" tours last week in Oahu.

What I found to be ironic (paradoxical?) is that Kamaka, known for traditional hand-made ukuleles, was actually the most automated. Fred was proud of his machine that could mill 5 uke necks per hour, and his wood bending machines that used heat rather than the traditional steamed method that could bend a side in minutes versus hours. Kamaka ships 4000 ukes a year.

What I remembered most was Fred telling the story of Antiques Roadshow appraisers saying that his 1927(?) pineapple uke was "priceless", yet Fred was banging it against the counter, eliciting winces from everyone on the tour!

Of the three factories, the Kamaka factory was the dustiest. I was sneezing koa dust out of my nose after the tour. Kanile'a was the cleanest.