View Full Version : You'll think me weak... (new ukes day)

08-06-2011, 06:01 AM
And you'll be right, I have no willpower at all. :o

But I do have two new additions to my instrument collection :D

I'm still a newbie when it comes to uke, but since I play guitar and mandolin, I know how it goes and I knew I would want to move up from my first uke sooner rather than later.

So when I saw two Kamakas - a soprano and a pineapple - advertised, I knew I wanted one. Based on discussions here, I felt the pineapple might suit me better, but to be honest I prefer the figure 8 bodyshape, and anyway, I wasn't going to buy both, but you can see what's coming...

http://img593.imageshack.us/img593/6294/p1090325.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/593/p1090325.jpg/)

http://img814.imageshack.us/img814/3408/p1090326.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/814/p1090326.jpg/)

I must say a big thanks to John Croft, aka the Ukulele Man, who kindly drove up from Shropshire to meet up and give me the opportunity to try both, and was a pleasure to deal with. He had described these as "plain, but great sounding" - I said great, that's exactly what I want!

John said he thinks these are both from around 1980 or thereabouts. They are both in really good condition; the soprano has some finish checking and the tuners are a bit stiff, and it could do with a bit of a clean up, but no issues as far as I can see.

My initial impressions are that I love the tone of both; the soprano seems brighter and the pineapple louder and warmer, perhaps better for singing along with. The koa on the pineapple is prettier, but both are very nice. The more I look, the more I find little differences, for example the fretboard on the pineapple is very thin, like on an old Neapolitan mandolin, whereas the soprano is much thicker. The heel shape is different, and there is a slight difference in the neck profile. The body of the soprano is slightly deeper.

I'm curious about the date, history etc so if anyone has any comments I'm keen to learn, so please feel free to offer any information.

I'm looking forward to having some fun with these babies, and they will certainly give me plenty of motivation to practice and improve my uke skills!!!

Meanwhile, I'll post a couple more pics...

08-06-2011, 06:10 AM
Congrats! I think you've stepped up uke ho'ing to a whole new level by buying two at any one time. lol

08-06-2011, 06:15 AM
Here are a couple of pics of the pineapple.

http://img215.imageshack.us/img215/2596/p1090318j.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/215/p1090318j.jpg/)

http://img600.imageshack.us/img600/2299/p1090322o.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/600/p1090322o.jpg/)

One of my concerns about the pineapple was that some people seem to find the shape less comfortable to play, but thankfully that doesn't seem to be a problem for me! I really like both these instruments, but I think this one will establish itself as my favourite, maybe :)

08-06-2011, 06:16 AM
Congrats on the Kamaka ukuleles! I am sure they will bring you a lot of great music. As for dates, look inside at the neck block for a stamped date, mine has a date in there. On Kamaka's website they do say when they used the different labels. Looks like the both have white labels. White labels were used from 1978 - 2000. However, that angled fretboard end does date it. Others will know more but I think your friend is right....late 70's to 80's.

Either way, enjoy! Also, those black strings might be originals from Kamaka. I am not a fan of their strings, and my Kamaka's sound improved greatly when I changed from the original strings! Enjoy!

08-06-2011, 06:19 AM
Congratulations! Those ukuleles are both very elegant. Check out PedalFreak's Unofficial Kamaka Ukulele Blog (http://unofficialkamakaukulele.wordpress.com/). If you look through it, you'll find some information on how to estimate the date of your ukes using the inside label and the headstock logo design.

08-06-2011, 06:25 AM
Thanks chaps! Yes, I know two at once is bad, but I felt that whichever I passed up, I would regret letting it go.

I have checked PedalFreak's excellent blog, and based on the white label and the headstock transfer, that makes John's estimate of the date certainly possible, but the date range is quite broad. Thanks for the tip about the neck block, I'll take a look.

John thought they might be the original strings but seemed to think that changing them might not be such a great idea. If I do change them, do you have any recommendations for what I should try?

Here are a couple of pics of the soprano:

http://img21.imageshack.us/img21/694/p1090315a.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/21/p1090315a.jpg/)

http://img52.imageshack.us/img52/6775/p1090317f.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/52/p1090317f.jpg/)

08-06-2011, 06:43 AM
Weak? I so get it. I have a tendency to get things in pairs myself because I just can't decide between the two and I want all the options available. Congratulations on two fine ukuleles.

08-06-2011, 06:48 AM
Congratulations! I think you did the right thing in bringing both home. They were meant to be together :)

I love Martin M600 fluorocarbons on my Kamakas, so I'd recommend giving those a try - they're inexpensive and easily available.

Curious as to why one would recommend *not* changing the strings??

08-06-2011, 07:24 AM
I love Martin M600 fluorocarbons on my Kamakas, so I'd recommend giving those a try - they're inexpensive and easily available.

Curious as to why one would recommend *not* changing the strings??

Couldn't agree more with Janeray....I love Martin fluorocarbons on most of my ukes, and I can't figure out why your friend would think it isn't a good idea to change the strings.....if not for string changes and discussions about it, what would we have to discuss on UU!

Those uke's are beautiful, I'm glad you got them both!

08-06-2011, 11:31 AM
That's not weakness, it's kindness. It would be cruel to separate such fine siblings... :)

08-06-2011, 11:35 AM
Such a nice pair! Excellent show of the power of persUASion...

I would recommend either Worth browns or the Martin 600's as well. Love the Martins on my older Kamaka's.

08-06-2011, 12:01 PM
Being a former addictions counselor, I'd say you were in the "late stage" of UAS!:drool:

08-06-2011, 12:05 PM
That's a fine pair! Congratulations on the Two-fer!

08-06-2011, 12:05 PM
Worth browns for sure! They look good, feel good, and sound great!

Congrats Fliss, will you be bringing them to HB2? (I recently got a new Uke too)

08-06-2011, 10:06 PM
Thanks very much for all the encouragement, everyone.

Worth browns for sure! They look good, feel good, and sound great!

Congrats Fliss, will you be bringing them to HB2? (I recently got a new Uke too)

I recognise that avatar :) I'll try the Worth browns, thanks - do you have a suggestion for a good place to get them in the UK?

I will be bringing one of them to HB2 - I'm planning to travel by train, so will have to limit myself! I assume you will be bringing your lovely new uke?

I'd better explain HB2 - it's a UK meeting organised through a UK acoustic forum, taking place next month in Yorkshire. Should be lots of fun!