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View Full Version : One of those who could believe it moments....



beergeek
01-23-2011, 11:27 AM
I occasionally play uke during the worship service at Church. Last week after I played, one of our members came up to me and told me that she and her husband were given two ukuleles as a gift when they were in Hawaii but no one has ever played them.

I think they were either an anniversary or wedding gift, I can't remember exactly what she said. Anyway, I told her to bring them in sometime and I'll clean them up for her and teach she and her husband to play.

So today, after worship service, she comes up to compliment me on the music we played before service and she has this in her hands:

19619

raecarter
01-23-2011, 11:33 AM
Do go on....

OldePhart
01-23-2011, 11:41 AM
You're such a tease! LOL

rem50
01-23-2011, 11:49 AM
come on! We are waiting!

beergeek
01-23-2011, 11:51 AM
So I open the box and...ummm...uhh...

rem50
01-23-2011, 11:52 AM
very nice surprise

beergeek
01-23-2011, 11:58 AM
Not in the best condition....so I tell here they are "Keiki Kamakas" ....she says, "yes, keiki means child." I tell her I'll clean them up but I can't keep them...they're worth too much. She says she would rather they be played....

So, there's some repair work ahead ;)

Tudorp
01-23-2011, 12:10 PM
jeesh.. You got to be kidding. She gave them both to you? Man, where am I when these people come around? lol. Awesome.. You should take them out to a nice dinner or something. Well worth a good gesture gift.. Nice..

beergeek
01-23-2011, 12:20 PM
Yep, that's right....not one but TWIN Keiki Kamakas...Gold Label Kamakas in the original box, with the original strings and an original felt pick no less! Now, the front and back seams were separating, one of the bridges is off and ....well...it's going to be a fun project to bring back the twins ;)

Like I said, it was one of those..."I thought this never really happens" moments....

Tudorp
01-23-2011, 12:26 PM
How old are they? and I wouldn't just glue and clamp those things, I would take those to a quality luthier.. Just sayin..

Uncle Leroy
01-23-2011, 12:39 PM
Fantastic! Congratulations!

Bosconian91
01-23-2011, 01:55 PM
Good for you! =)

experimentjon
01-23-2011, 01:59 PM
Nice. That is actually the first time I have ever seen a Keiki Kamaka in a picture. I have yet to see one in person. IIRC the Keikis were made in Japan as part of their import line. Anyone have clarification?

beergeek
01-23-2011, 02:10 PM
How old are they? and I wouldn't just glue and clamp those things, I would take those to a quality luthier.. Just sayin..

Keikis were made in Japan under license from Kamaka from 63-70. They're solid mahogany and the tops are thin, thin, thin .....I've already got the backs off and the tops loose. I'm going to clean up the joints, re-glue with hide glue, put better tuners on them, pore fill and as the final step, I'll french polish them with violin varnish.

These babies are going to be suh-weet!

Tudorp
01-23-2011, 02:31 PM
cool.. good luck with the project, and keep us in the loop with pictures..

Thanks for sharing..

Gmoney
01-23-2011, 04:05 PM
Keikis were made in Japan under license from Kamaka from 63-70. They're solid mahogany and the tops are thin, thin, thin .....I've already got the backs off and the tops loose. I'm going to clean up the joints, re-glue with hide glue, put better tuners on them, pore fill and as the final step, I'll french polish them with violin varnish.

These babies are going to be suh-weet!

Amazing! I love my Keiki! Its a sweet little uke - but... you left off one step above. I would definitely rehydrate them both before you get them all put back together. And... why are you going to pore fill? The originals sure weren't. Keeping them as close to original increases their value & though a good french polish may make them look "like new" - they AREN'T - thats the point. IMO

Great Providence - (I also attend church & don't believe in luck! )

philpot
01-23-2011, 04:19 PM
Now why cant these things happen to me? xD very nice :)

beergeek
01-23-2011, 09:51 PM
Gmoney...As you said, they came to me for a reason. I could never sell them and their previous owners want them to be played. I plan on making them look and sound like angels ;) and then play them regularly at worship.

beergeek
01-23-2011, 09:52 PM
Now why cant these things happen to me? xD very nice :)

I never thought something like this would happen to me....so, it still may happen to you!

Gmoney
01-24-2011, 03:35 AM
Gmoney...As you said, they came to me for a reason. I could never sell them and their previous owners want them to be played. I plan on making them look and sound like angels ;) and then play them regularly at worship.

That's what I'd to do, I can see it now, since you can't play both at once, you now have a couple of extra "axes" to share w/new members of the worship band. I found out our new worship leader has a Bari uke, so am plotting to rejoin the band w/one or more of my ukes. My wife & I started the worship "band" some 23+ years ago at our church, but due to my travel & her health haven't been as active as we would like to be for several years. Getting back in the "swing" is one of my 2011 goals.

Good Providence!

KamakOzzie
01-24-2011, 01:42 PM
I'm going to clean up the joints, re-glue with hide glue, put better tuners on them, pore fill and as the final step, I'll french polish them with violin varnish.

These babies are going to be suh-weet!

I would leave them as original as possible. That is the normal finish for a Keiki. I have played two, and they sounded nice. I have a Gold Label koa soprano with the original tuners. They work just fine. I would try them for awhile before "modernizing" them.
Until I saw your pictures, I never knew they made them in pineapple shape.

Bill

roxhum
01-24-2011, 01:52 PM
I think you misunderstood what the lady said. What she meant to say is for you to send one to Roxhum in CA as soon as possible (-:

mm stan
01-24-2011, 02:12 PM
Aloha Rob,
Man you are blessed....maybe for playing for the church....I have never seen gold label pineapple keikis before...maybe kinda rare as a pair in a box....send a picture to Kamaka....mail@kamakahawaii.com
You are the luckiest guy I know now...virginia eh...elderly couple..probally had them for decades????? Have fun and enjoy!! Happy Strummings....MM Stan...

Pippin
01-24-2011, 09:19 PM
Good Man. Can't wait to see the results.

beergeek
01-24-2011, 09:47 PM
I think you misunderstood what the lady said. What she meant to say is for you to send one to Roxhum in CA as soon as possible (-:

Shoot....I knew it was too good to be true ;)

beergeek
01-24-2011, 10:09 PM
Aloha Rob,
Man you are blessed....maybe for playing for the church....I have never seen gold label pineapple keikis before...maybe kinda rare as a pair in a box....send a picture to Kamaka....mail@kamakahawaii.com
You are the luckiest guy I know now...virginia eh...elderly couple..probally had them for decades????? Have fun and enjoy!! Happy Strummings....MM Stan...

Thanks Stan...I do feel blessed!

I have emailed Kamaka and I'll report back what I hear. I think the couple is in their late 70's and they were in Tokyo and then Honolulu around 1965-67 so I think that these were a going away present either when they left Tokyo or Honolulu.

Plainsong
01-24-2011, 11:14 PM
Oh... just ........wow. You won the ukulele lottery! Please keep us posted on the project, and don't be too proud to get the help of a luthier if needed!

Wagster
01-25-2011, 01:17 PM
jeesh.. You got to be kidding. She gave them both to you? Man, where am I when these people come around? lol. Awesome.. You should take them out to a nice dinner or something. Well worth a good gesture gift.. Nice..


Maybe if you went to church, you would meet some people like this too? :worship:

oldrookie
01-25-2011, 03:07 PM
Not necessarily. Been there nearly every week for 52 years (Dad was a pastor) and still only have the uke I bought.

On the other...was in a position to give a bass and a guitar to a couple of young'uns to start their musical journeys on.

Wait, that makes me the old person in the story.

SuzukHammer
01-25-2011, 04:28 PM
There is nothing wrong with good fortune.

beergeek
01-25-2011, 10:44 PM
Not necessarily. Been there nearly every week for 52 years (Dad was a pastor) and still only have the uke I bought.

On the other...was in a position to give a bass and a guitar to a couple of young'uns to start their musical journeys on.

Wait, that makes me the old person in the story.

Hang in there youngster, I'm 54... wait, that makes me the old person in this story... ;) What you did is good Karma...

MiG-19
01-25-2011, 11:56 PM
This is a GREAT thread! I can't wait to see the progress on the restoration, and to hear what Kamaka comes back with now that you've sent them pictures!

Uke Whisperer
01-26-2011, 12:03 AM
I look forward to following this through completion! (and as you know, "we all like pictures")

beergeek
01-26-2011, 10:56 PM
I look forward to following this through completion! (and as you know, "we all like pictures")

Well, here's Stage One for "Lani." Gluing her top back on.....now that sounded wrong didn't it ;)

Gmoney
01-27-2011, 03:34 AM
Well, here's Stage One for "Lani." Gluing her top back on.....now that sounded wrong didn't it ;)

How did you remove the top & back for the rebuild? I have a vintage camp uke that has cracks in top & bottom and side to top separation & after seeing your photo, it seems that I might be able to do just what you are doing to the camp uke to get it back in shape. (plus, its not NEARLY as expensive to try on compared to your Kamaka's!)

BambinoTheBard
01-27-2011, 03:42 AM
That is such an amazing gift! I love hearing these kind of stories :) It warms my heart to hear that there are still selfless people in this world. :D

beergeek
01-28-2011, 01:04 AM
How did you remove the top & back for the rebuild? I have a vintage camp uke that has cracks in top & bottom and side to top separation & after seeing your photo, it seems that I might be able to do just what you are doing to the camp uke to get it back in shape. (plus, its not NEARLY as expensive to try on compared to your Kamaka's!)

I used a seam separation knife. Luckily, it appears that they used hide glue. The glue was crystalized and brittle, probably from being stored in an attic through 40+ years of summer heat and winter cold. So, it didn't take much to get the top off. I debated on whether to remove the fingerboard and decided not to so the 12th fret came out and the fingerboard extension was still glued to the top.

That actually turned out to be fortunate as it gave me another reference point for setting the top. Unfortunately, I didn't get it clamped up in time and the set was a bit off so I had to steam the joints to get the top back off. The top is pretty thin so the steaming introduced some warpage on the edges, which I'm in the process of fixing.

Basically, I've had to remove the bridge and the bracing in order to clamp the top in a sandwich to undo the warp. Again, there's some fortune to that as the top had a couple of cracks that are now more easily repaired as part of this process.

While I'm letting those repairs set, I'm going to start working on "Honua." I know I have the uke bug bad...it's gotten to the point where I'm naming my ukes ;)

joeybug
01-28-2011, 01:56 AM
That is sooo cool!!! I know I have been blessed with an Uke I could never afford so know what you mean by the "who could believe it" moment, get those twins better and play them, I bet they'll sound sweeet!

Mim
01-28-2011, 03:02 AM
I am soooo excited for you! What a gift and a blessing! And they are apparently in the perfect hands to bring them back to life. I can not wait to see the finished product.

beergeek
01-31-2011, 11:27 PM
So as I mentioned, I had to take the top back off and while I was at it, decided to more thoroughly repair a few cracks and re-brace the top.

These pics show cracks at the bottom left, the waviness of the cracks near the tail block and a crack near the sound hole.

beergeek
01-31-2011, 11:41 PM
So, I made a slurry of hide glue and mahogany scrapings which I applied, tapped/rubbed in, scraped off the excess with a credit card and wiped down with hot water. Then I clamped the repairs between 2 metal scrapers.

beergeek
01-31-2011, 11:48 PM
After that, I cleaned up the mahogany braces and clamped them. They were not placed extremely well so I cleaned up the slots in the lining and corrected the placement as much as I could without actually altering the slots in the lining.

Next step is refitting the top.

beergeek
01-31-2011, 11:52 PM
On a side note....I feel even stronger now about pore filling the wood. It believe it will strengthen the top while keeping it flexible and help protect the top from further cracks. Of course, I have no idea what I'm doing really but it seems to make sense. ;)

beergeek
02-02-2011, 11:44 PM
So, I received this response back from Kamaka...I hadn't asked for a valuation, just historical information.


Dear Mr. Powell,

How nice you were gifted with 2 Kamaka Pineapple Keiki Ukuleles!

When I made my inquiries to see if I could gather more information for you...I did get some interesting facts.

The “Keiki” ukuleles were all manufactured in Japan. This was due to the great demand for our Kamaka ukuleles and many things "Hawaiian" after the Olympics that were held in Japan. Since we couldn't meet the demand locally, there was an agreement to have a qualified manufacture produce them in Japan.

The "Keiki" sides were constructed with one full mahogany wood piece. This is one of the items that sets these ukuleles apart from our Hawaii made ukuleles. The fingerboard and bridge are made from rosewood. Our Kamaka ukulele sides are constructed by two separate pieces of wood, mainly out of Koa, our wood of choice. A limited amount of "Keiki" ukuleles were made out of Koa, but they used mainly Philippine mahogany. The strings on your ukuleles are nylon and were also made in Japan.

I am sorry we are not able to tell you the price that was paid for them during that era nor can we say what they are worth now. Either way, Kamaka ukuleles in good condition continually to increase in value. To buy a brand new Pineapple Soprano ukulele made with a Koa body, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard and bridge costs $695.

I hope this information helps and you enjoy your ukuleles. However I did notice that one of the bridges on your ukuleles popped off. Over time and under certain conditions, the glue/wood can become dried out and the parts of the ukulele can start separating. If you desire to have your ukuleles repaired/restored, we are the only qualified repair professionals to do the job right and to meet our high standards.

Please let us know if we can further assist you.

Thank you for your interest in Kamaka ukuleles.

I'm being very careful with my repair work but wouldn't hesitate to send them to Kamaka should I be unable to complete the repairs myself.