View Full Version : Kamaka fingerboard width and string action

07-19-2011, 09:01 AM
I just got a Kamaka tenor (HF3). It came with Aquilas which I immediately took off and replaced with Koolau Mahana low g, 3rd & 4th strings wound. The strings have had some time to stretch in. Though I'm still not sure I like the sound of wounds, I have a more basic question about the Kamaka design itself.
Sometimes, fingering and chording with the fourth string is problematic because it will occasionally slip off the upper edge of the neck, causing buzzing, etc. I feel as if I'm playing on the edge with that string.
At first I figured it must be my playing style, but then I took a closer look at the way the strings are arrayed across the width of the neck: the first and fourth strings are very close to the edges, closer than on any other uke I've owned or remember playing.
Does anyone else who plays Kamaka tenors notice this as well? The neck is no narrower than my other tenor, a Lichty custom, but <that> tenor's strings are arrayed just a bit further in over the neck and not so close to the edge.
Is it just a matter of me continuing to adjust my technique so the slip-offs don't happen?
Thanks for any insights.

07-19-2011, 09:05 AM
I don't play tenor but I have noticed that, especially with Aquilas or other more pliable strings, this happens to me on the first string on my sopranos. And I know someone who mentioned she was having trouble with this on her new Kamaka concert, also strung with Aquilas. Since switching to Martin M600s I haven't had a problem with this.

Another thing I noticed was that the first and fourth strings on Kamakas are much closer to the edge than on Koalohas.

07-19-2011, 09:15 AM
I have a Kamaka HF-3 and I have never had a problem like you mentioned. I use D'Addario J71 strings (high g). I have also played a different Kamaka strung with low g Worth strings - not a problem either. Good luck - hope you get the situation resolved.

07-19-2011, 09:57 AM
I have an HF-3 as well and haven't had that problem. I'd have to work real hard to slip the strings off the top of the neck. I'm currently using Fremont Blacks, but have used Worth, Kamaka, Hilo and Aquilas with no issue. Never used a wound 4th though.

I've attached a quick photo below of my HF-3 nut and one comparing it to a Collings tenor. Although the Collings neck is slightly more narrow, no appreciable difference in strings 1 and 4 edge spacing that I can see.

Are the wound strings seated firmly and all the way down in the nut? Just hate to see issues getting in the way of Kamaka enjoyment...

07-19-2011, 10:22 AM
I would post your query in the "Uke Tech Support" section for additional response. Experienced luthiers, particularly Rick Turner recently, have been very generous in offering advice. You may also call Kamaka, give them the slot spacing on the nut, just to have them check that the slots are not somehow misaligned.

07-19-2011, 11:58 AM
Bdukes, thanks so much for the quick photos. Mine looks like that, but I couldn't be sure until Kanaka916 (on the tech forum) provided me with measurements for the nut and the string/edge. My uke is set out exactly right.
In addition, I just put on a set of Worth Low G HDs and I am not having the "over the edge" issue. Mahanas with wound look not to be my best choice for this uke. : )
My great thanks to all of you for your excellent suggestions and help.

Richard P
07-26-2011, 03:39 PM
I'm glad you solved your problems. At the risk of starting a fire (I'm new to this forum), I would say that Fremont (the other brand of fluorocarbons) strings, for me, have seemed vastly superior to Worths in every possible way. FWIW, my current setup on my Kamaka tenor is the D'Addario classical guitar strings (the "Jake set") for strings 1-3, and a Fremont low G.