View Full Version : Kamaka or Maui Music: what's better?

07-17-2008, 09:11 AM
Based on cost these two brands seem to be the most expensive non-custom ukulele's I can see in my endless and perhaps goalless trawling of the internet for ukulele stuff.

Which do you think is better made? I know each ukulele will be better based on which sound is best for each individual but does anyone know of any building techniques or differences in material quality that separate one brand from the other?

07-17-2008, 01:13 PM
this like asking if you like a Nissan or Toyota better...preference preference. And they are two different classes Maui music are all hand made by Lieberman Himself and Kamakas are mass produced.

07-17-2008, 01:25 PM
ah right I didn't know that. I thought Kamaka's were made by hand too! So you think the Maui would be better because of that?

07-17-2008, 04:11 PM
Well they're both made by hand, but the difference is that with Maui music it's one luthier from start to finish, making an instrument to your spec that suits you. Kamaka is building an instrument to their own template. There's probably some machining involved in the process, but there's a point where it's gotta be by hand.

07-17-2008, 04:18 PM
Wow, this is the first time I have heard of Maui Music, so I can't tell you how they sound, but Kamakas are indeed made by hand. But it's more of a division of labor sort of thing where the instrument goes through different stations and one person does a certain task, sort of like a factory system. But it is all still made by hand by skilled craftsmen.

But, other expensive brands are Kanilea, G String, and KoAloha. Their uke prices are in the same neighborhood as the Kamakas. And in the end, they are all great sounding ukes when you spend that kind of money. So when I bought, I played all the candidates, and just went with the one that I "liked" the most. No regrets. :)

Ukulele Dude
07-17-2008, 04:36 PM
I guess I should speak up, since I own one of each. Although my Maui Music is a 'pre-fire' so it's not the same as a new one.

I like them both very much. Although I prefer my Kamaka. Don't let the 'mass produced' label fool you; the Kamaka is top notch in terms of build quality, sound, and looks. It's not mass produced in the same sense that a Kala or Lanikai is mass produced. And I can only describe the playing action as 'like butta'.

What Kamaka lacks, compared to a new MM is the bling factor. I've never played a new MM, but they look sweet. You would have to pay quite a bit to get a Kamaka with that kind of bling. The Maui Music might also have a radiused fretboard, as opposed to the Kamaka which does not. I have found that I prefer it flat, but that's just me.

And not to knock Peter Lieberman (I am a fan of his work)but he has gone on record as saying he doesn't really do customs, or build to people's specs. He builds the way he likes it and puts it out there for sale. Unless that has changed recently.

07-18-2008, 12:23 PM
Thanks for the response guys.

Ukulele Dude - thanks for that, I'm not really into the bling element so I'll still hold the Kamaka up as my number 1 uke.

07-18-2008, 01:35 PM
Maui Music "pre fire"...Ok, I've come across this qualifier a number of times now.

Define and elaborate.

What is the big alleged difference in quality?

07-19-2008, 01:29 AM
reggae music is best ok??... OK!!

nah - MGM is right [=

Ukulele Dude
07-19-2008, 04:16 PM
Lanark, the 'pre-fire' just refers to a Maui Music uke that was built prior to a fire that burned down the shop they were made in, in the late nineties I think.

I don't know about any big difference in quality; they're all pretty good as far as I know. I think the new ones are made by only him now from start to finish, and he had some employees helping out back in the day, but I don't know about any quality issues with the old ones.