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HippieDave
12-01-2011, 08:03 PM
Hello all. In other posts I've said I'm in the middle of building my first Ukuleles --two tenors. In the meantime, I've also rekindled a long dormant interest in ukes--my first instrument. I recently retrieved the family ukulele's I grew up with and am interested in learning what there may be to know about them:

(1) a simple soprano of unknown manufacture; this has a sort of crest on the headstock which just says "Aloha Hawaii" on it. I know this dates at least back to the late 50's, as I recall playing it as a kid up in Waimanalo Heights. I have had to put new tuners on this because only one of the old wooden pegs survived.
(2) Kamaka Tenor: This has the gold label, and dates by my memory to the early 1960's. We had it when we left Hawaii for the mainland in 1964. It is all one kind of relatively light wood (including the fingerboard) which I assume is koa.?
3) My personal Kamaka baritone uke that I was given as a graduation present in 1970. It is all koa, with a darker fretboard, and has the white Kamaka label.
I tried to upload pics like I've done in other fora, but this one doesn't seem to recognize the url.

I am just curious about these. I know almost nothing about the Kamaka ukes of this period. I know they were considered the cream of the crop back then, as there were no luthiers (at least that I knew of) making high quality instruments. But, did Kamaka have a line of different quality ukes ? I can't find a serial # on any of them. How do I find out about them?

arpie
12-01-2011, 08:24 PM
it would be great to see some pics of the ukes ....... the ones you are building as well! :)

Roberta

Hippie Dribble
12-01-2011, 08:28 PM
Hey dave

a few things you could do..no doubt you'll get heaps of responses from the knowledgable folks on this thread, (photos would sure help) but failing that, I'd suggest 2 things...

1. send a private message notification to member "mm stan" who is a Kamaka expert (for want of a better word) he is a lovely man and would be pleased to help if he can

2. send a message to Chuck Fayne on the Fleamarketmusic website on the 'Collector's Uke Yak' page

awesome to see you've rekindled your love for the uke mate. welcome to the UU.

HippieDave
12-01-2011, 08:30 PM
Can';t figure out how to upload pics. I usually just upload them to my google/picasa site and then copy the url of each photo into the "image" window. This site say's "its not a valid url". I don't know how to deal with that!

HippieDave
12-01-2011, 08:32 PM
Thanks. Its bringing back lots of memories. Now after paying guitar all these decades, I've got to remember how to play the ukes!

HippieDave
12-01-2011, 08:50 PM
ok--Here's the little soprano and its headstock shot

30567

30568

Our Old Kamaka Tenor. The bridge was off and there were several very minor cracks I repaired. My folks hadn't cared for it well. Sounds good though. There is a little sagging between the soundhole and the bridge due to string tension.
30569

And here's my baritone. Its essentially in new condition, as its rarely been out of its case in the forty years I've had it. Sounds very nice with some new strings.:o
30570

foxfair
12-01-2011, 10:29 PM
Your tenor has a sail type headstock, which is used in concert now. can't really tell if it is Koa or not from your pic.

arpie
12-02-2011, 12:00 AM
NICE!! Very nice ukes - I hope you enjoy playing them! Many thanks for the pics! :)

Roberta

hmgberg
12-02-2011, 01:31 AM
Measure the scale length of the "tenor." I think it may be a concert ukulele; if it's 15", it's a concert; if it's 17", it's a tenor.

The soprano bears the Hawaiian emblem on the headstock decal. That does not necessarily mean it's Hawaiian though, as mainland makers used them too. Is there a name on the top of the coat of arms. If there is, it is most likely the makers name. If there is a "TABU" hot stamp anywhere, most commonly on the back of the headstock, it's Hawaiian made. On every island-made ukulele I have seen, the back of the instrument extends over the heel cap, that is to say that the heel cap is part of the back.

hmgberg
12-02-2011, 01:36 AM
Measure the scale length of the "tenor." I think it may be a concert ukulele; if it's 15", it's a concert; if it's 17", it's a tenor.

The soprano bears the Hawaiian emblem on the headstock decal. That does not necessarily mean it's Hawaiian though, as mainland makers used them too. Is there a name on the top of the coat of arms. If there is, it is most likely the makers name. If there is a "TABU" hot stamp anywhere, most commonly on the back of the headstock, it's Hawaiian made. On every island-made ukulele I have seen, the back of the instrument extends over the heel cap, that is to say that the heel cap is part of the back.

Oh-and the tenor/concert, I believe, is koa. Kamaka did make some with koa fingerboards; they are considered rare, therefore more valuable.

mm stan
12-02-2011, 02:10 AM
Aloha Dave,
Nice collection there you have.....I have that Same gold label tenor Kamaka Sail head....They are rare because all of them were custom made no shelf ones... Mine is a 50's thin neck, a more rare
model...My friend has the same one as you and more common..the thicker headstock and wider neck.. yup they are gold and worth some money 800 and up now...Your white label baritone
was made sometime between 1976 and 1982... As for you Aloha Ukulele, sorry it's made in the east coast...Manhattan NY...I believe and it looks like early vintage...late 20's - 30's.. is there
a white or yellowed label with a man playing with a coconut tree....You hail from Waimanalo eh...cool...still the same...I used to play there in the mountains as a kid and played in a pine tree
treehouse....3 stories high..at the bottom of the mountain...it used to be windy and our treehouse used to sway..he he...yeah it was by the recreation center in the early 60's...old times..eh
hope it helped out...A Hui Ho.....Happy Strummings..Stan
Kamaka Are still cream of the crop...you can date them from their labels and their features...

HippieDave
12-02-2011, 11:46 AM
Thanks to all for the great input! And to Sam: you seem to know a bit about Kamaka's:agree: All of that is consistent with my vague memories, although I would have placed the baritone somewhat earlier, it is possible I was given it in 1978 as a BDay present rather than a grad. present. The tenor is in fact 17" scale. I,m still not certain about the wood though. I'm no expert on koa, but I'm pretty good at recognizing different woods, and it just doesn't 'feel' like koa to me. Is it possible Kamaka used what we used to call 'monkeypod" for ukes? Anyway, thanks for the help!

mm stan
12-02-2011, 11:59 AM
Thanks to all for the great input! And to Sam: you seem to know a bit about Kamaka's:agree: All of that is consistent with my vague memories, although I would have placed the baritone somewhat earlier, it is possible I was given it in 1978 as a BDay present rather than a grad. present. The tenor is in fact 17" scale. I,m still not certain about the wood though. I'm no expert on koa, but I'm pretty good at recognizing different woods, and it just doesn't 'feel' like koa to me. Is it possible Kamaka used what we used to call 'monkeypod" for ukes? Anyway, thanks for the help!
The tenor sure looks like and I'm positive it's Koa..

HippieDave
12-02-2011, 02:47 PM
Thanks Sam...good to know.