View Full Version : Could you help me with this Uke?

12-21-2010, 12:47 AM
Hey Guys,

I know very little about Ukes and just getting into it. I have a chance to purchase this Older Gibson Uke #3 as what I am told. I think its a 1923 year and I dont know what it's worth or if it even sounds good. I think it needs some repair and was wondering if you can let me know your thoughts? Any advice would be great!

I am trying to add pictures..... Ill see if it works! Thank you a bunch for helping out a newbie:)


Hippie Dribble
12-21-2010, 01:01 AM
g'day elixer,

I'm no authority on vintage ukes but that one looks to me to be in very good condition really. Can't see much wrong with it at all except the imperfection on the fretboard which should be a fairly easy fix.

I've seen the Gibson style 3's going for well over $1000...

Wonder what price they're asking for it? You have a highly desirable and collectible uke there mate! Happy days! :)

12-21-2010, 01:18 AM
If this uke is anywhere under a grand, I'd grab it because this one is in exceptional condition.

12-21-2010, 03:52 AM
I appreciate all the help in this. It has a small hairline crack in it and was wondering if if there is any place you guys suggest taking the Uke to get restored? Thanks

12-21-2010, 04:07 AM
I appreciate all the help in this. It has a small hairline crack in it and was wondering if if there is any place you guys suggest taking the Uke to get restored? Thanks

Depends on where you live - many times there are local luthiers that could do such a repair, but I'd hesitate to send it to anyone who doesn't specifically have experience w/ukuleles.

One good contact source might be jake@thewildwoodflower.com
who does repairs/restorations - his website is here:


It's beautiful, been hoping to run across one like that myself.

12-21-2010, 05:07 AM
I'll echo what everyone else has said. It's exceptionally good looking and the condition is great. Where IS the crack? I couldn't see it in the shots.

12-21-2010, 03:59 PM
Thanks Guys,

I just bought it today for 475.00. Saddle is slightly coming off and there is 1 minor crack on the front side about 1.5 inches. I need to get it restored back to normal.... I will look up that Guy. What do you think it will sell for if I am want to get something else?

12-21-2010, 04:16 PM
If you're in Europe, Juha Lottonen would be an option. He's a respected luthier in the guitar world, and he also makes gibson style ukes. I suspect he's restored a nonzero number of them. It sure does sound very fixable. I wouldn't be so hasty about selling.


12-21-2010, 04:20 PM
Well, to be honest, I think if you are looking to re-sell it, I would suggest you don't have the issues fixed. I would leave that for the next buyer. For me, a fan of vintage uke's, I would rather not have work done before I get it as often well intentioned guitar luthiers do harm because they are not familiar with ukulele's. Also, you don't get your money out of it really.....$475 + $150 on up for repairs.....If you aren't going to play it, which I think you should play and enjoy it, I would suggest you sell it as is.

List it for sale here and you will get good people looking at it! However, the best thing to do would be to have it fixed, and play it for the next 50 years!

12-21-2010, 04:48 PM
Well, to be honest, I think if you are looking to re-sell it, I would suggest you don't have the issues fixed. ... However, the best thing to do would be to have it fixed, and play it for the next 50 years!

I think that RyanMFT has a good point. You've already paid a pretty "penny" & if you had it repaired by anyone except an expert luthier w/vintage uke experience it might actually devalue it. If it was mine, I'd hang on to it & pass it on to my grandson (he's not yet a year old so I'd get to enjoy it for awhile!).

If you do sell it, the marketplace here would probably be as good a place as any to sell it or Elderly Instruments (elderly.com) or Flea Market Music.

12-21-2010, 04:50 PM
I agree with Ryan. I f you are going to resell sell "as-is." Gibson Uke 1's with issues can sell in the mid hundreds (check Elderly http://elderly.com/vintage/names/gibson-uke-1-soprano-ukulele-(1950's)--180U-958.htm) I imagine a Uke 3 would make you back your investment and a nice profit.

12-21-2010, 09:54 PM
OK Thanks for the help, Yes more then likely I will keep it. I was just reading a blog about Jack Johnson having a cigar style Uke made by a guy in Hawaii that he calls the Gibson of Ukes. Sounded interesting and thought maybe this would be a better thing to go for. Do you know who he is talking about?

Its Sam Kamaha Jr.: He said the he got 1 of the last remaining ones build by him and it has a grainy tone. Do you know what he is talking about and if you have any info on it let me know.

mm stan
12-21-2010, 10:32 PM
Aloha Elixer,
Nice Gibson 3, I believe you scored on this one...I wouldn't let that one go, if you do....PM me....I would be intrested...many people would like to keep these antique ukes as original as possibe...Thanks for sharing.. BTW where did you score this and are you living in the US??
Happy Holidays!! MM Stan...

12-21-2010, 10:39 PM
Yes I am from Minneapolis and I was visiting Boninita Springs, FL and was looking on cragislist and saw it. I am a Gibson Fan and thought I would be cool to have. It came from a family that it was bought brand new from their grandfather and it was hung from the wall for all its life. The grandfather apparently was in hollywood( Worked in Music sets) and had no problems through the Great Depression. That is the story of it and I am glad to find it. Just want to do the right thing with it.

12-22-2010, 05:28 AM
I like Jack Johnson and LOVE Hawaiian ukes, but the Gibson is the "Gibson of ukes" :)

12-22-2010, 05:44 AM
Could someone comment on Sam Kamaha Jr.? Is his Ukes really good?

12-22-2010, 06:50 AM
I think you mean Sam Kamaka Jr.

Kamaka is the oldest existing ukulele builder, and they make excellent and desirable ukulele's. It is still a family owned business and is almost 100 years old now. Sam Kamaka trained in the shop of Manuel Nunes, one of the first three ukulele builders and over time Kamaka has made some of the most iconic ukulele's. Kamaka invented the "pineapple" ukulele body style.

Excellent ukulele's, not rare, as is that Gibson but most players would love to have a Kamaka. Here's a link to their website. Their history section is pretty cool! http://www.kamakahawaii.com/ I have a Kamaka soprano and it is a great instrument!

Are you thinking about getting a Kamaka as well? Jack Johnson may have one of the Kamaka cigar box uke's, Sam is known to have made them. However, those are extremely rare. I don't think people are actually playing Kamaka's cigar box ukulele's because they are so valuable. If you are looking for a cigar box uke, there are a lot of great builders out there who make really good instruments.

12-22-2010, 07:34 AM
Thanks Ryan,

You helped me a lot! Do these cigar Box Ukes sound very good do for most all purposes will the Gibson #3 be a better choice?

12-22-2010, 12:07 PM
Why would he want to sell it through Elderly and have to give them commission when he can sell it on eBay and pay a lot less for the privilege?

12-22-2010, 09:13 PM
I think someone just said "the Gibson of ukes" because the Kamaka name is like Fender, Gibson, and Martin all rolled into one. It's just a phrase. It doesn't really mean anything. It's just how that guy wants to describe it. He loves his uke. That's all. As has been said above, you probably won't find a Kamaka cigar box uke, but if you did, those type of ukes generally have a very unique sound.

Now when I compared the Kamaka name to those guitar makers, that's not to say that there aren't other brands that people love just as much. But Kamaka as a company that still exists, was the first. Notice I didn't make a comparison to Collings. That would be because they make their own ukes.

12-25-2010, 04:23 AM
There is a place in Minneapolis(Home) That specializes in Acoustic guitars and Mandolins banjos only. Do you think they are good enough or should I send out to the guy above? I want it done right?

Also: I think this Gibson is a soprano, what is the difference in sound to the rest?

12-25-2010, 10:32 PM
I think your best bet is to find a shop that has some ukes, or do a youtube search to hear what the differences are. I mean, that's a book-full of information you just asked for.

As for the luthier, it's not really a question we can answer either. What if he doesn't specialize in ukes, and thinks they're pieces of junk? Well that wouldn't be good. But what if he doesn't specialize in ukes but would take great care and is do an excellent job? You have to talk to them. We can say what our preference would be, but we're not you and we don't have all the information that you have.

In addition to Lottonen, and the other suggestions here, Musicguymic on Ebay is one of the most well respected uke sellers and experts in the entire ukulele community. He offers uke restoration and HAS seen plenty of Gibsons. You'd have to send it to Hawaii, but he's an option.