PDA

View Full Version : Buying a Kamaka online



redBee
06-26-2011, 04:15 AM
Aloha folks!

I am thinking of buying a Kamaka Pineapple (HP-1)
Currently, I live in Japan, and here Kamakas are very expensive! (They cost around 1250 dollars)

So I wanted to order one from Hawaii, but I wonder if it is better to order directly from Kamaka or get it from a famous store (Hawaii Music Supply, Pua Pua, etc).

What do you think? Could you tell me the pros and cons?
Also, if you have other store suggestions, that would be great too.

Thanks!

NatalieS
06-26-2011, 05:33 AM
The downside to ordering any uke online is that you don't get to play it first and see if it sounds like you want it to. Having said that, I ordered a Kamaka pineapple from www.artisanguitars.com in Tennessee, USA, and I was very satisfied with the results. They offer detailed pictures of each individual uke, so you know what yours will look like. Another option would be to post an ad here on UU for a pineapple. There have been quite a few sold recently (including my own), and you'd have the advantage of knowing what it looks and sounds like (if the seller can provide a sound sample) plus you'd save a bit of money by buying used!

Good luck in your search. Kamaka pineapples are sublime. :)

lkdumas
06-26-2011, 05:41 AM
Just hearsay, but word is that getting individual attention is difficult at times with Kamaka. Most of their big sales are with vendors/retailers. Hawaii Music Supply does most of their business with individuals, and they are very responsive to phone calls or direct contact. Just for info., I paid $1185.00 for my Kamaka tenor here in Northern California - so $1250 isn't such a bad deal when you consider that you will have the opportunity to play before you pay if you buy it locally.

RyanMFT
06-26-2011, 05:46 AM
I have had excellent personal service from Kamaka and have heard of many people having the same.

I don't think there is a huge difference between getting it from Kamaka or another retailer, I would just want to get pictures of the uke I was buying....I don't know if Kamaka does that. I might consider Bounty Music as well, I had an excellent experience with them.

By the way, enjoy your new Kamaka!! Post pictures when you get it!

janeray1940
06-26-2011, 06:21 AM
I've bought two of my Kamakas online, sight unseen; another in person but without others to compare it to; and the most recent one (the pineapple) in person with a choice of two different ukes. And while I doubt that one can go wrong with a Kamaka in general, I will say that the difference between the two pineapples I compared was really dramatic. The one I bought had a much brighter, more bell-like tone than the one I passed on, which sounded more muted and mellow. Both sounded quite nice, but I was able to pick the one that had the sound I liked best. So, there's a "pro" for buying in person from a store and paying a bit more (which I opted to do, since sales tax alone added 10% to the cost!).

On the other hand - when you buy by mail, you don't have a basis for comparison. I'm pretty sure that with an instrument like a Kamaka, you will be happy with whatever you get.

As for which store to buy from - I might be mistaken, but when I was shopping around for a pineapple I think PuaPua marked the price up a bit from Kamaka, and shipping was higher. But as others have mentioned, you will probably be able to get photos of the uke, maybe have someone send a sound sample or play it over the phone for you, etc. I know with Kamaka, you place your order and a month or so later, "your" uke pops off the assembly line and it is what it is - you don't have others to choose from, and I'm pretty sure that you won't get pictures in advance. Even in person at the factory, you can't pick out a uke - you can only place an order.

I haven't bought from Hawaii Music Supply but a friend has, and she had a great experience with them - she didn't have any idea what uke she wanted (her first) and they helped make a great choice for her.

That being said, Kamaka's customer service has always been good to great in my experience. I recently ordered a pineapple case from them,, and even though it was only a $30 purchase the service was excellent.

Also, check out this list of Kamaka retailers (http://www.kamakahawaii.com/findadealer.html), there are a few other dealers that I've heard good things about: Acoustic Vibes, Gryphon, and Artisan Guitars are a few that I recall hearing about.

I'm pretty sure that whichever way you decide to buy your pineapple, you will LOVE it. Mine quickly became my favorite uke. even though I was convinced that I didn't like playing sopranos nearly as much as concert ukes.

mm stan
06-26-2011, 06:32 AM
I'd buy from a reputable retailer which will do a set up and resolve any issues if you get any.. to me, only two come in mind now...direct from Kamaka, or Music Guy Mike...Good luck, MM Stan
MGM does the setups...better two check up's than one.. go with him...

redBee
06-26-2011, 02:56 PM
Thanks everybody!
Your tips are great.

I think I will check some online retailers and see if they have photos of their pineapple in stock. It seems that the price is about the same ordering from the factory or from a retailer (Hawaii Music Supply for example).

I didn't know MGM was still selling ukes. I should try to contact him too.

Do all Kamakas come with a case from the factory? I guess this would influence on where to buy the uke from too (I mean if the price is the same but cases are different according to vendor)

janeray1940
06-26-2011, 03:27 PM
Do all Kamakas come with a case from the factory? I guess this would influence on where to buy the uke from too (I mean if the price is the same but cases are different according to vendor)

Definitely depends on the vendor. Some of the online retailers include cases. Kamaka factory charges $30 for the case.

itsme
06-26-2011, 03:32 PM
Also, I have no idea how it is in Japan, but keep in mind that you may have to pay extra taxes/duty when you import an instrument from another country.

redBee
06-26-2011, 04:22 PM
Definitely depends on the vendor. Some of the online retailers include cases. Kamaka factory charges $30 for the case.

How is the Kamaka case? Is it good?

redBee
06-26-2011, 04:28 PM
Also, I have no idea how it is in Japan, but keep in mind that you may have to pay extra taxes/duty when you import an instrument from another country.

Actually, musical instruments are duty free here (woohoo!). And also the exchange rates right now are very favorable to order from abroad.
Plus, I got a "go sign" from my wife, so it's just a matter to find where to order it from.

I just wish sellers here would readjust prices to be more fair.
The difference is pretty big.

janeray1940
06-26-2011, 04:30 PM
How is the Kamaka case? Is it good?

The one I got is just a basic black hardshell case. I don't have a photo of it but it's identical to this one that came with my figure-8 soprano:

redBee
06-26-2011, 05:16 PM
The one I got is just a basic black hardshell case. I don't have a photo of it but it's identical to this one that came with my figure-8 soprano:

Thanks janeray1940. That looks good enough.
I've only had soft cases so far. Well, I don't take my ukes out so often, but it would be good to have a sturdy case to take the Kamaka on a plane/train/bus ride, I guess.

mds725
06-26-2011, 05:26 PM
Kamaka lists the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of its HP-1 at $695 US. Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, California, is currently selling a Kamaka sporano pineapple for $695 US without a case (http://www.gryphonstrings.com/instpix/35787/35787.php) and $759 US with a "hardshell case" of unspecified manufacturer (http://www.gryphonstrings.com/instpix/35788/35788.php). One nice thing about Gryphon is that it posts several photos of the actual ukulele it's selling and doesn't generally use stock photos.


How is the Kamaka case? Is it good?

For what it's worth, Gryphon posts this blurb on the web pages for most its Kamaka ukuleles (although not the pineapples): "Our list prices are higher than the list prices on the Kamaka web site and that of other retailers. Why? Because we feel the cases supplies with Kamaka ukes are not worthy of the instruments inside. Over the years we have experienced problems only with the Kamaka cases. We have taken the policy of buying Kamaka ukes without cases and then pairing the ukes with a higher quality case, similar to one in the picture to the left. The 'list price' reflects the slightly higher cost of these superior cases." A salesperson I spoke with at Gryphon claimed that sometimes the Kamaka cases get a little smelly if they sit in the sun for a while due to the type of glue Kamaka uses, and that the stitching sometimes comes loose.

I bought a Kamaka tenor at Larry's Music in Kaua'i that came with a Kamaka case, and a Kamaka concert from Gryphon that came with a Ko'olau hard case. I think the Ko'olau case might be a little better made, but I haven't had any problems at all with the Kamaka case.

Here's a photo of my Kamaka tenor in its Kamaka case:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=23196&d=1304041427

And here's a photo of my Kamaka concert in its Ko'olau case:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=23547&d=1304825947

janeray1940
06-26-2011, 05:40 PM
A salesperson I spoke with at Gryphon claimed that sometimes the Kamaka cases get a little smelly if they sit in the sun for a while due to the type of glue Kamaka uses, and that the stitching sometimes comes loose.


Interesting... this made me think of a couple other things. The lining in my older Kamaka case had to be re-glued (but keep in mind this is an 8-year-old case, and the black... pleather??... on the outside is coming unglued in a couple of spots. It's definitely not smelly though, even though it's been to the beach with me and in hot car trunks.

The new case, on the other hand - I had to let it sit opened in a closet for a week for the new glue smell to off-gas. It seems fine now but the glue smell really did bother me at first. I'll remember to keep this one out of the sun!

redBee
06-26-2011, 05:41 PM
Thanks mds725

They both look nice.
I might also consider the Protec case that Kamaka suggest on their site : http://www.ptcases.com/items.aspx?ProductID=584&InstrumentID=40&InstrumentGroupID=4&CategoryID=2&subCategoryID=52

mds725
06-26-2011, 05:43 PM
The new case, on the other hand - I had to let it sit opened in a closet for a week for the new glue smell to off-gas.

I had the same problem with both the Kamaka case and the Ko'olau case. If I have the same problem again, I'm going to try that baking soda stuff that's supposed to extract smells from refrigerators.

redBee
06-26-2011, 05:47 PM
I had the same problem with both the Kamaka case and the Ko'olau case. If I have the same problem again, I'm going to try that baking soda stuff that's supposed to extract smells from refrigerators.

Activated carbon is also good to remove smells.

sonicbaker
06-26-2011, 06:09 PM
Thanks mds725

They both look nice.
I might also consider the Protec case that Kamaka suggest on their site : http://www.ptcases.com/items.aspx?ProductID=584&InstrumentID=40&InstrumentGroupID=4&CategoryID=2&subCategoryID=52

I ordered my HF-3 directly from Kamaka earlier this year and felt like I got terrific customer service over the phone. I guess the downside of ordering from Kamaka is that you have to wait awhile to get your uke. I wasn't in a huge hurry so it was no problem and they actually shipped it earlier than they originally projected. I also got the Protec case and really like it. Has a nice pocket for books, tuner, etc...very sturdy, but light. I'd probably be able to take it anywhere except maybe into checked baggage on an airplane.

redBee
06-26-2011, 09:08 PM
I ordered my HF-3 directly from Kamaka earlier this year and felt like I got terrific customer service over the phone.

How did you make the payment? Do they accept credit cards or paypal?

Thanks

Shin
06-26-2011, 09:39 PM
Actually, musical instruments are duty free here (woohoo!).

Actually, import goods less than about 30 thousand Yen are exemptions from taxation. Items over 30 thousand Yen are additional tax of about 10 percent. And if they are over 200 thousand Yen, taxes will be more expensive. Take care...

lancemanion
06-26-2011, 09:47 PM
I purchased a Kanile'a from Hawaii Music Supply and had great service. I wanted a MiSi pickup installed and they took it over to the Kanile'a factory for the installation. I have also purchased a few ukes from MGM and also had great service. He is up and running at musicguymic.com I think the only advantage from buying from the factory is going to the factory to pick it up and taking a tour and meeting the folks who made it. Hope this helps and good luck.

redBee
06-26-2011, 09:53 PM
Actually, import goods less than about 30 thousand Yen are exemptions from taxation. Items over 30 thousand Yen are additional tax of about 10 percent. And if they are over 200 thousand Yen, taxes will be more expensive. Take care...

Hey Shin san. Thanks for the tip.
I guess I didn't have to pay taxes for the Fluke when I bought it, because it was under 30K yen.
Ahh...
Maybe I should just go to Hawaii and buy the uke there!

By the way, are you going to the Ukulele Picnic in Yokohama this year?

redBee
06-26-2011, 10:00 PM
I purchased a Kanile'a from Hawaii Music Supply and had great service. I wanted a MiSi pickup installed and they took it over to the Kanile'a factory for the installation. I have also purchased a few ukes from MGM and also had great service. He is up and running at musicguymic.com I think the only advantage from buying from the factory is going to the factory to pick it up and taking a tour and meeting the folks who made it. Hope this helps and good luck.

Thanks lancemanion. I will try contacting MGM too. I thought about the possibility to pick up at the factory, but who knows when I will be able to go to Hawaii (I want to buy it before my wife changes her mind hehe)

Shin
06-26-2011, 10:05 PM
Hey Shin san. Thanks for the tip.
I guess I didn't have to pay taxes for the Fluke when I bought it, because it was under 30K yen.
Ahh...
Maybe I should just go to Hawaii and buy the uke there!

By the way, are you going to the Ukulele Picnic in Yokohama this year?

Wow, do you go to Hawaii soon? Please enjoy your trip! Unfortunately, I can not go Ukulele Picnic in Yokohama this year. Enjoy both!

redBee
06-26-2011, 10:46 PM
Wow, do you go to Hawaii soon? Please enjoy your trip! Unfortunately, I can not go Ukulele Picnic in Yokohama this year. Enjoy both!

No, I just wish... I would like to go, but no plans for now. But I will be going to the Ukulele Picnic for sure!

sonicbaker
06-27-2011, 02:44 AM
How did you make the payment? Do they accept credit cards or paypal?

Thanks

I used a credit card. I didn't ask about Paypal, so not sure about that.

rem50
06-27-2011, 02:50 AM
I'd buy from a reputable retailer which will do a set up and resolve any issues if you get any.. to me, only two come in mind now...direct from Kamaka, or Music Guy Mike...Good luck, MM Stan
MGM does the setups...better two check up's than one.. go with him...
Has he started up again?

redBee
06-27-2011, 11:39 AM
Has he started up again?

I just got a reply from MGM about pineapples in stock. Unfortunately he told me he didn't and that it was hard to find.

Well, thanks for all the advice everybody.
Mahalo!

olgoat52
06-27-2011, 11:56 AM
Has he started up again?

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?49120-Does-MGM-still-do-setups/page2

johntz
06-27-2011, 12:34 PM
There are two pineapples in stock at artisanguitars.com right now for $725.

guitharsis
06-28-2011, 01:19 AM
Got my concert Kamaka from Artisan. Wonderful ukuele, great service! NC Ukulele Academy also has a pineapple www.alohau.com Kent is also great to work with!
Good luck in your pursuit.

lkdumas
06-28-2011, 04:42 AM
MGM's new phone number is 808-927-7297. He just posted this a few days ago.

redBee
06-28-2011, 05:08 AM
Thanks for the tips on availability!

Also, I contacted MGM the other day, but he didn't have pineapples in stock :(

The good news is that I found out today that the shops here are coming to their senses and are adjusting the prices (a lot actually, like 250 dollars difference!). This way, maybe there won't be much difference, considering the shipping and sales tax. plus I would have a chance to look at it before I buy it.

Let's see how my bargaining skills are. (It maybe hard since it's Japan and no one asks for discounts!)

redBee
07-02-2011, 09:31 PM
First of all, thanks to everyone with your tips. They were really valuable.

I finally made my mind and bought the pineapple in Japan, at the official Kamaka representative here, Kurosawa Gakki, Yokohama store.

Fortunately, they were able to bring the price down (still a hundred dollars more expensive than ordering from Hawaii, but I got to choose the uke and try it, and also got 3 years local repair/maintenance guarantee).

Regarding the Hawaiian suppliers I've contacted, were :

MGM :) : by mail, answered very quickly but had no pineapples in stock
Bounty Music :) : by mail, answered quickly too but they also had no stock.
Hawaii Music Supply : I asked them by mail, but still no reply! (But our good friend ukestah, went to the store and checked the pineapple availability, but they were out too. Thanks a lot ukestah! You are awesome!)
Kamaka Factory : They must be really busy too, because I only got a reply about 5 days later, but they advised me to contact the local retailer (Kurosawa, which I did previously, but was too expensive).

In the end, I opted to buy locally, as I said for the big discount, being able to choose and try, also being available immediately, the local guarantee and the guy in charge for selling ukes at the Yokohama store was really helpful giving advices.

* Advice for people planning to buy ukes in Japan now : be aware that some stores like Yamaha, Kurosawa began their bargain season for ukuleles and accessories. It might make a big difference if you look around and talk to the vendors.

Anyway, here are the pictures of the new Kamaka!

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=25257&d=1309676698

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=25254&d=1309676694

Other pics:
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/album.php?albumid=1436

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
07-02-2011, 09:38 PM
I didn't have any useful advice during your search, but I'd like to offer congratulations on a beautiful new ukulele.

How's it sound?

ukestah
07-02-2011, 09:50 PM
Wow that is a beauty, Fabio! Too bad they didn't have a pineapple when I went to check, but I got to try the Ko'olau T2, sweet sounding 'ukuleke! Post some sound samples bro!

redBee
07-02-2011, 10:08 PM
I didn't have any useful advice during your search, but I'd like to offer congratulations on a beautiful new ukulele.

How's it sound?

Thanks, I had three pineapple options but this was the best sounding. I think I must have strummed for 30 min trying them until I was able to notice the difference!

redBee
07-02-2011, 10:11 PM
Wow that is a beauty, Fabio! Too bad they didn't have a pineapple when I went to check, but I got to try the Ko'olau T2, sweet sounding 'ukuleke! Post some sound samples bro!

I will try to record some samples with the PC mic, but I think it won't do justice to the real sound. (I should get a better mic now ha!)

joeybug
07-03-2011, 12:26 AM
Congrats on a beauty! One day I shall own a Kamaka! I bet he/she sounds beautiful!

molokinirum
07-03-2011, 03:30 AM
Nice looking Kamaka! Congrats and hoping to hear a sound clip!

janeray1940
07-03-2011, 06:17 AM
Very nice! And speaking from experience, I think it's worth it to pay a bit more but have the chance to try the uke in person (and preferably, compare it to others if the shop has more than one in stock).

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
07-03-2011, 06:30 AM
Thanks, I had three pineapple options but this was the best sounding. I think I must have strummed for 30 min trying them until I was able to notice the difference!

Nice. You got to walk out of the shop with the best-sounding ukulele. That's definitely worth some money.

Enjoy your Kamaka!!

mds725
07-03-2011, 09:02 AM
Congratulations on the new Kamaka. It's great that you were able to try a few out before picking the one you like the best. Definitely worth the slightly higher price.