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UkuleleAdventure
02-06-2012, 10:36 AM
I'm considering buying a vintage Kamaka from 1918-1920, and it has a lot of cosmetic wear and a big crack/hole in the lower bout. I'm not sure if I should have Kamaka restore this uke, or leave it the way it is. If I was to restore it, would it hurt the value, or improve it? Comment with answers.
Thanks,
Kyle

itsscottwilder
02-06-2012, 10:40 AM
I'm considering buying a vintage Kamaka from 1918-1920, and it has a lot of cosmetic wear and a big crack/hole in the lower bout. I'm not sure if I should have Kamaka restore this uke, or leave it the way it is. If I was to restore it, would it hurt the value, or improve it? Comment with answers.
Thanks,
Kyle

I'm not an expert. But restoration typically is the way to go UNLESS restoring it takes away the thing that made it special.

For instance if you had vintage Kamaka that Don Ho himself had scratched his name into. You may not want to remove his name. His name and the story of how it got there is part of what makes that particular uke remarkable.


But if restoration takes an unplayable instrument and makes it playable. I think that's generally a good thing.

UkuleleAdventure
02-06-2012, 10:42 AM
I would definitely instruct Kamaka to keep everything as original as possible. As far as I know of, there is no historical value to it.

hmgberg
02-06-2012, 10:50 AM
Generally, refinishing or even over spraying devalue a vintage ukulele to collectors. You probably don't want to do that unless it is absolutely necessary, i.e., the finish is cracking off or is worn through to the extent that the wood is unprotected. You do want to repair cracks and holes. That will probably increase the value over its present condition if for no other reason that someone buying will have to pay to make the repairs. I agree that having Kamaka do the work is likely to both ensure that it is kept as original as possible and that it remains a "Kamaka," i.e., save the receipt.

Good luck with your ukulele.

RyanMFT
02-06-2012, 10:57 AM
I think Scott is right. Kamaka has produced A LOT of ukuleles. A 1918 - 1920 Kamaka is early, but I don't think I would consider it "historic".

I think there is every reason to restore it if you can. I got a 20's/30's Kamaka pineapple which needed work. I spent a bit to bring it back to life, and it is such a pleasure to know that what was once an unplayable, cracked mess when I got it, is now a wonderful, beautiful, playable instrument. If you can get it at a good price, and then spend a bit to bring it back to playable condition, than you have a great, early Kamaka! I believe vintage ukuleles should be played and I play all of mine.

My only beef with Kamaka doing a restoration on something that early is that they do not deal with wood peg tuners. My pineapple had tapered holes but not the original tuners. Kamaka told me they just install modern tuners because they can't find anyone who makes wood pegs and said that wood pegs don't work anyway!! That ruled out Kamaka for me because I wanted it to look as it once did.....my luthier had no problem installing wood pegs.....which, by the way hold tuning beautifully!

So, if you get it, restore it and make music on it!

UkuleleAdventure
02-06-2012, 11:07 AM
The wood pegs are completely intact. I'm not sure if the guy is asking for a reasonable price. He wants $1k, but considering all of the damage I don't really know if it's worth it. The only bad thing is that the nut doesn't seem to be original.
Here are some pics:
3324733248332493325033251

UkuleleAdventure
02-06-2012, 11:09 AM
Sorry for this extra post, my comp was lagging, and I wasn't sure if the first one posted.

mm stan
02-06-2012, 11:21 AM
For me on vintage ukes....you have to decide if it's a player or collectable...since you mention yours is
cosmetically challenged, it is not deemed a collectable...unless it is a very rare model.. most collectors
would want to keep it as original as possible..no refinishing or refurbished.. it would hurt the value and
intrest..sanding thins the body and changes the tone to me ..and you would like to keep the original finish.
since you probally want to fix the crack and stablize it, you could think of refinishing...as your uke is not
perfect anyways..and to me not collectable..go for it.. the best place to have it done and probally the cheapest
is kamaka..give them a call..if the uke you are looking at is a pineapple and has that decal some would be
wary of losing that decal, as it cannot be replaced and devalues it. Like mentioned if bare wood in not seen
on the uke and you don't mind a few scratches, leave it be..it would give the next owner the option to fixed
it if he wants..would to me easier to sell....Good Luck if you buy it....

Paul December
02-06-2012, 11:28 AM
I'm sorry for my ignorance, but...
...would you get your $1k (plus the original price of the uke) out of it if you'd sell it?
Wouldn't it be better/easier to hang that one on the wall as art, and use the $1k on a playable vintage uke in nicer condition?

mm stan
02-06-2012, 11:41 AM
Just saw the picture...I'd pass on it...major structure damage...it would cost alot and may not be worth what
you will put in to fix it...wait for a better offer..

efiscella
02-06-2012, 12:15 PM
I have a white label 8 string lili'u tenor that I purchased at the Kamaka factory in 1979. I have kept it in pristine condition and it lived in my basement for over 30 years. Last year, my daughter and her family moved into my basement and I moved the Kamaka upstairs. I did humidify it but after last winter I discovered about 1/4 inch hairline crack from the top of the sound hole to the base of the fret board. I was not sure if I should get it repaired or not and who should do it. I have no plans to sell it- I consider it my heirloom piece, not only because of what it is, but also because of the wonderful memories I have of the 1970's in the world of Hawaiian music and culture-- so it is a keeper. Also, my kids have all made claim to inheriting it. I decided to send it to Kamaka for repair. On their website it says "a year to 18 months" for repair. I figured that I had so many other ukuleles that I was willing to wait that long to get it done right. The Kamaka folks repaired it wonderfully and had it shipped back to me and the entire process took a month. The price, too was way excellent. To give you an idea, it cost me more to ship and insure it both ways from the east coast than it did to repair it. The repair is so good that unless I told you where to look you would not even know it was repaired. I am glad that I went to Kamaka for the repair. I could not be happier.

UkuleleAdventure
02-06-2012, 12:25 PM
I have a white label 8 string lili'u tenor that I purchased at the Kamaka factory in 1979. I have kept it in pristine condition and it lived in my basement for over 30 years. Last year, my daughter and her family moved into my basement and I moved the Kamaka upstairs. I did humidify it but after last winter I discovered about 1/4 inch hairline crack from the top of the sound hole to the base of the fret board. I was not sure if I should get it repaired or not and who should do it. I have no plans to sell it- I consider it my heirloom piece, not only because of what it is, but also because of the wonderful memories I have of the 1970's in the world of Hawaiian music and culture-- so it is a keeper. Also, my kids have all made claim to inheriting it. I decided to send it to Kamaka for repair. On their website it says "a year to 18 months" for repair. I figured that I had so many other ukuleles that I was willing to wait that long to get it done right. The Kamaka folks repaired it wonderfully and had it shipped back to me and the entire process took a month. The price, too was way excellent. To give you an idea, it cost me more to ship and insure it both ways from the east coast than it did to repair it. The repair is so good that unless I told you where to look you would not even know it was repaired. I am glad that I went to Kamaka for the repair. I could not be happier.

Thank you for that. If I do choose to purchase this uke, I would definitely have it repaired by Kamaka.

RyanMFT
02-06-2012, 02:25 PM
1K....wow! It looks to be an old one but I don't think it is worth anything near one thousand dollars! I'm not sure I would offer more than about 250 - 300 given that it needs some significant work. I bet Kamaka could make it look really beautiful but 1K is a lot of scratch!

You are right, not the original nut by any stretch of the imagination!

UkuleleAdventure
02-06-2012, 02:53 PM
He mentioned having Chuck from flea market music date it, and I found the article. I also found the picture that the seller included in the article. Chuck apparently appraised it at 750-1000 viewing the uke from the top. He did not see any of the damage on the uke. Chuck would have probably quoted it at 250 with the current damage. Here is the picture provided by the seller in the appraisal:
33265

YooperUker
02-06-2012, 03:30 PM
A few points here:
"Restoration" and "repair" are not necessarily the same thing.

If it's a currently nonfunctional uke of some historical significance such as a documented Manuel Nunes uke or (borrowing from an earlier poster's example) a signed ukulele once used by Don Ho but has major cracks, flood/rodent/fire damage, or anything else that would require even a minor rebuild, then anything you do to "restore" it is just going to take it farther from vintage condition in the eyes of collectors. Put it on the wall or in a showcase.

On the other hand, if it's a '20s-vintage Kamaka in poor, but reparable condition, consider that many already exist in near-mint condition; you're not depriving the world of an important specimen for study just by making it playable. Indeed, some might even consider it a shame to have a reparable vintage Kamaka and then just treat it as an unplayable wallhanger.

And even though the practice always makes me a little sad, if it's not reparable, it might serve as a donor of valuable parts to other vintage Kamakas going through restoration.

Of course, on the other other hand, does the uke in question (er, I don't necessarily mean the one the OP was looking at, but a hypothetical vintage uke) actually need restoration? If it can be stabilized and made playable with only minimal repair, then why not just go minimal? Patina is not a defect. If you want a uke that looks like new, well. . .there are many vendors of those these days.

Teek
02-06-2012, 07:44 PM
I have looked at and watched the closings and final prices on hundreds of Kamakas (and a LOT of them vintage pineapples) go off on eBay, and also regularly browsed the better retailers selections online (Elderly a lot) and $1K in that condition is way high in my opinion. If they go for a grand they are in pretty good shape and with no big crunches like the one in the pics (and usually have a mostly intact pineapple decal).

There's a white label on right now that is very flamey (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Kamaka-Koa-Pineapple-Soprano-Ukulele-w-Case-/280821841218?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4162493d42), has a little chunk off the back edge, the pics aren't great so I don't know that I would trust there is full disclosure in the listing, but I'd sure rather have something like that. The older ones don't necessarily sound all that great either.

I would look around at completed auctions (http://www.ebay.com/csc/i.html?rt=nc&LH_Complete=1&_nkw=kamaka%20pineapple%20ukulele&_fln=1&_trksid=p3286.c0.m283) and also at what Elderly is offering (they run high) to get an idea on prices according to condition. If I had a grand to spend on a Kamaka and had a love of pineapples (which I don't and I do) I'd buy one made in the last 20 years or so.

But that is just my personal take. I own a Kamaka pineapple and think every pineapple lover should. I had four pineapples and just sold one so now down to three.

mm stan
02-06-2012, 08:01 PM
Put it this way, you spend all that money and it sounds shitty, it's only will be a wall hanger and you got burned.
Sure they can do a patch on the side, how much will you have invested in it without even knowing how it sounds..
I rather play the lottery or go to Vegas on that odds..even fixed and it sounds good, it still isnt a good deal..wait
for a better uke to come along...one usually does if one has patience..never buy the first thing you see unless you
know it is a great deal...hey if you're rich, go for it..

dakamaainahaole
03-05-2013, 11:55 AM
how could the painting on the headstock be restored... find a large picture of one and a painter to copy it? i also will be acquiring a pineapple soon from early 30s, and i'd like to have the whole pineapple design painted on the entire body... not sure how to go about it though.