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View Full Version : Tabu uke out of the closet



Harold O.
07-27-2011, 04:46 AM
There was an article in the LA paper about our Canogahana Players uke group on Monday.

http://www.dailynews.com/ci_18542965?IADID=Search-www.dailynews.com-www.dailynews.com

With that, a woman came by Guitar Merchant with a long-held desire to play the ukulele her father left her many years ago. He worked as an engineer in the South Pacific. At some point, he bought and learned to play a ukulele.

The uke she brought by is a Tabu ukulele, made in Hawaii at a time when a lot of "made in Hawaii" ukes were not actually made there. Early 1920s.

This uke has the original case. Interesting to see a lot of recent talk about bullet proof, drop proof, rock solid cases. This old case is mostly fiber board and has held up well for 90 years.

The uke itself was stored with the strings under tension, so the top has bowed in slightly. The back has split about half way along, but is not loose or vibrating. What I especially like is that you can see and feel small indentations on the fret board where the man spent most of his playing time.

A terrific instrument. Phil restrung it for her, but suggested she practice and play with something else, bringing out the Tabu for special occasions. Had it been played continuously over the years, this would not be an issue.

So we learned a couple of things. First, a little publicity can bring interesting things to your door. Next, wonderful old ukuleles are still out there. Third, keep your ukes in playing condition by playing them from time to time.

mm stan
07-27-2011, 04:52 AM
Aloha Harold,
Nice story....check this baby out...it's calling you.....http://honolulu.craigslist.org/mau/msg/2514002536.html

PoiDog
07-27-2011, 04:54 AM
Interesting. There is a Tabu 'ukulele currently on auction on ebay (http://cgi.ebay.com/ANTIQUE-TABU-KOA-UKULELE-1915-1927-RARE-HARD-FIND-/250861477225?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a68825d69). I wonder if it's the same one?

Harold O.
07-27-2011, 05:16 AM
Nope. Neither of those are as well kept as the one I saw. And I doubt this old woman would ever part with hers. She came in with her daughter (who must be in her late 50s) who is equally passionate about the instrument. No way this ever finds the open market.

I wonder how many were made in the way-back days. Old ukes have value beyond dollars.

mm stan
07-27-2011, 06:33 AM
Looks like a style 3 with the skunk stripe and white binding..I agree it is in mint condition and it is a higher grade uke...
as for the tabu decal, I believe it was put on by a group of hawaii builders when the mainland builders were calling theirs hawaiian ukes..
wonder which builder made that one...does it say on the label..love the purple lining in the case...I had one and it was so faded...looks like
this one hasn't seen much sunlight over the decades...my guess its going to be a famiily heirloom if not one already....thanks for sharing...

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
07-27-2011, 07:00 AM
There's been talk here amongst some builders about bringing the tabu system back here in Hawaii. It would eliminate any confusion despite misleading claims or labeling of other builders. In order for it to be a "Tabu" uke it would have to be 100% made in Hawaii. Many imported ukes have some variation of Hawaiian or Hawaiian sounding name, some misrepresent their wood to be koa or "koa-like". some even have Made in Hawaii (or on the Big Island) on their labels until you read the fine print. Everyone here I'm sure knows where the various brands of ukes are made but for some I'm sure it is confusing.

PoiDog
07-27-2011, 07:53 AM
There's been talk here amongst some builders about bringing the tabu system back here in Hawaii. [...] In order for it to be a "Tabu" uke it would have to be 100% made in Hawaii.

I'm completely in favor of this system, and if the Hawai'ian builders can agree to create some sort of body that would certify Hawai'ian made 'ukuleles, it would be a really positive thing. Not just for the buyers, but for the builders as well. Just like those who appreciate the unduplicated quality of *real* Parmesan cheese, *real* Prosciutto, *real* champagne, etc, having some way to instantly identify *real* Hawai'ian ukes would be wonderful.

And that shouldn't automatically mean non-Hawai'ian 'ukuleles are substandard. Just that they are not Hawai'ian.

Harold O.
07-27-2011, 08:43 AM
There is no TABU label (per se) on this one. It is branded into the back of the headstock.

I couldn't see an inside-the-body label.

Mostly, the ladies were proud of the stories dad had to tell from his adventures in younger days. Family heirloom? You betcha. I didn't hear either of them play, but the daughter intimated that mom was capable of wowing a crowd. We'll see if they come back for playtime.

RyanMFT
07-27-2011, 09:01 AM
The TABU mark was always stamped into the uke, either on the backside of the headstock or inside the soundhole. I have never seen a TABU label. I wish there were a list of those who used it. I know Akai did, and others but I have never come across a list.

Chuck, I would love if builders in Hawaii would bring back a stamp or mark! Since I love vintage stuff, even better if they used the old design!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
07-27-2011, 09:07 AM
Several of us have talked for a few years of implementing the TABU brand but nothing has come of it yet. Maybe I'll just start it on my own.....
I don't know if the old mark is protected in some way......

patico
07-27-2011, 02:48 PM
my2cents....

here the word TAPU means "sacred"

i guess the same significance should have in that other corner of the polynesian triangle (hawai'i)

mm stan
07-27-2011, 03:20 PM
Go for it Chuck...start the trend...I am sure many other builders will jump on the bandwagon.....Wonder who really started it... Tabu...Taboo or Chuck, Maybe your own..Kapu means the same sacred, taboo, or prohibition...

Harold O.
07-27-2011, 07:35 PM
Go for it Chuck...start the trend...I am sure many other builders will jump on the bandwagon.....Wonder who really started it... Tabu...Taboo or Chuck, Maybe your own..Kapu means the same sacred, taboo, or prohibition...


Wow. If this gains any traction from here, I can then say that I was the one behind the scenes who finally pushed TABU back into existence. And 35 years from now, only a very careful reader of the UU archives will ever know the real story. coooooool. heh heh

PoiDog
07-28-2011, 04:50 AM
Wow. If this gains any traction from here, I can then say that I was the one behind the scenes who finally pushed TABU back into existence. And 35 years from now, only a very careful reader of the UU archives will ever know the real story. coooooool. heh heh

Now you've got something to put on your headstone!

Noobie
07-29-2011, 03:47 AM
If you're serious about this, the thing to do is create your own trademark so it has protection, otherwise anybody will be able to put "TABU" on their ukes. sort of a "look for the Union label" kind of thing.

Tigershark
11-09-2012, 12:40 PM
A terrific instrument. Phil restrung it for her, but suggested she practice and play with something else, bringing out the Tabu for special occasions. Had it been played continuously over the years, this would not be an issue.

Why not play it? Might as well enjoy it, right :)

Patrick Madsen
11-09-2012, 01:23 PM
With the advent of all the Asian ukes coming to the market; this would be an excellent Idea Chuck. I wonder how many newbies buy a uke thinking a uke is Hawaiian because of the name used or the "supposed" wood used. Just locally here in small Whatcom County, I've had conversations with new people looking for ukes thinking the one they were looking at was a genuine Hawwiian made Koa when in actuality it was a So. Asian repro. made from their local Acacia wood.

SamZ3
07-08-2018, 09:32 AM
Looking at the Headstock Label/Photo, as well as the Tabu Mark, It looks like this was a Sam Chang Ukulele 1920-30's (Hawaii). He used the same Royal Crest H/S Label as well this Tabu Mark. (There are a few different designs of Tabu marks.)