View Full Version : Info about this Uke?

03-09-2011, 12:44 PM
Hi all,
I am new to the uke world, only been playing about a month.
I have been playing guitar 30+ years and in bands solidly for the last 20 odd.
At my local guitar shop about 3 weeks ago, I bought a Mahalo UY50 and became instantly addicted, within a week I bought a Kala KA-KTE-C.
The range we can get in Australia is quite limited but I really like the Kala.
When I took it to one of our gigs, our bass player said I could have the one that belonged to his dad.
It is a Kumalae, he says it has to be at least 50 years old, (band-aids and all lol)
There are pics at http://www.flickr.com/photos/58558750@N04/.
If you've got the time to have a look, any info would be greatly appreciated.

03-09-2011, 01:14 PM
Wow, get thee to a ukulele Luthier (as opposed to a guitar luthier)......you got a vintage treasure. I'm sure there are several members here that can give you an idea of it's value/
Wow, what a gift... I wish I had a friend like that. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PS: When you get it fixed...get a case with a humidifier in it.

03-09-2011, 01:15 PM
I think it's probably 1920s or so. Definitely a little treasure!

Hippie Dribble
03-09-2011, 01:27 PM
that's worth very good dollars gunslinger. Much older than 50 years I reckon. That looks like a 20's or 30's model and they sell from anywhere between 500- 1000+ dollars. Get an expert luthier to overhaul it for you and repair the split on the right lower bout and happy days are here again! :)

mm stan
03-09-2011, 01:59 PM
Aloha gunslinger,
You are a lucky guy....believe me....it is in really good condition...just the big crack on the side..I'd have it repaired to stabilize it, from further damage..take it to a good luthier...because
your uke is worth alot....especially where you live..Good Luck and Happy Strummings..MM Stan..... Sheesh why am I not that lucky to get a vintage hawaiian ukulele such as yours....believe
me..it would make me very very happy!!

03-09-2011, 03:36 PM
Wow.... I wasn't expecting that, ignorance is not bliss it seems lol.
As you have now told me it might be worth some money, I will return it to him, (or at least inform him and see what he says), it wouldn't be right to keep it.
I am sure it will make his day though :)
Thank you everyone for the info!

03-09-2011, 05:14 PM
Nice ukulele! These buggers are loud and punchy. I have a similar uku, in the same style, as are so many Hawaiian ukuleles from that period. I put Martin fluorocarbons on it and my wife won't let me play it in the house.

03-10-2011, 03:21 AM
What you have there is a Style A Kumalae soprano from some time in the 1920s or 1930s. So far as I can discover there is no way of dating them from the instrument itself, unless someone has written a date on that label.

It looks to be in good condition except for (a) the crack in the side, and (b) the bridge appears to be lifting off. Both should be easily fixed by a competent luthier if you can find one nearby. Get them fixed before you play it, and I'd take the string tension off now rather than trusting the band-aid to hold it together. These ukes are built amazingly lightly. The fret ends might stick out as well, because of shrinkage over 70-90 years, and these should be dealt with at the same time.

UK prices for these are somewhat lower than US because there seem to be far more of them around. I'd say that in its current condition it might be worth GBP 150 here, as perfect examples (like the one I bought recently, he boasted) sell in the GBP 200-300 range. No idea what the Australian market values them at.

If Australian prices match the UK then, repaired, it's probably worth around AUSD 400. I'd guess the repairs might cost AUSD 100-200. Well worth doing because they are super players.

They were originally strung with gut, so Aquilas will get you close to the original sound. Mine's pretty sweet sounding when plucked with Aquilas on, but still barks when playing chords. Flourocarbon strings will proably lose you that some of that bark on the chords, so it depends on what sound you like.

03-10-2011, 11:29 AM
Thanks for the detailed information Chris, I will get it to a luthier asap.
As Phil said earlier, I should find a dedicated ukulele luthier as opposed to guitar however this may prove difficult, I will have to do some searching.
It is probably worth a little more here than say the UK or US as vintage ukuleles appear rather thin on the ground.
Aquilas are what I am going to put on it, so good to be on the right track. I might buy some fluorocarbons, just for a comparison at some stage.

03-10-2011, 01:06 PM
Two further things occur to me:

1. I use concert Aquilas on most of my sopranos, but put the standard soprano Aquilas on the Kumalae because its so old and lightly built. It plays really well with these.

2. You can probably find a local luthier via the Australian/New Zealand Luthier's Forum site, Instrument Builders Forum - http://www.anzlf.com/. Any reasonably experienced ukulele builder (could well be amateur) should be able to deal with the bridge and any sharp fret ends, and many would be more than competent to fix the crack. I'd suggest you register there, post your pics and ask for advice. You might even find someone in your own town. One big advantage is that they often post pictures of the instruments they've built, giving you a better idea of their competence than you'd get from a luthier you find in the phone book. Having said that, all the work I can see would be dealt with the same if it were on a guitar, so if you can't find a uke person then a *recommended* (by someone whose opinion you trust) guitar luthier would be fine. The guitar tech in a chain music store has probably never tried this kind of repair before.

If you can't find someone with uke experience, at least ask the luthier what kind of glue they plan to use for the crack and the bridge. The right answers are "hot hide" (best) or Titebond - both of these make reversible repairs, and the uke was glued with hot hide glue when it was made. Epoxy or crazy glue/superglue/CA glue are suspect. Gorilla glue - run away (taking your Kumalae with you).

03-31-2011, 03:56 PM
Hi Gunslinger,

Nice find! Where in Aus are you....I can help with a luthier recommendation if you are near Adelaide. I have seen three vintage Kumalaes appear here out of closets in the last four weeks - a very welcome epidemic!

04-23-2011, 12:10 AM
Hi Scorpex, I am actually in Melbourne but I appreciate the thought nonetheless :)