View Full Version : Kamaka Tiki Repaired!

10-02-2012, 10:02 AM
Background: I was a military brat, in the late ’60 my family was stationed on Oahu. We lived in military housing in Aiea on the north shore of Pearl Harbor. I spent 3-5th grade at Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary where shoes were optional. Like most elementary schools in those days there was the mandatory music class. At Pearl Harbor Kai it consisted of a local gentleman and a room full of kids with ‘ukuleles playing a three chord version of the Hukilau Song and King of the Road over and over. My mom thought it would be nice to have a uke at home for me to play and as a remembrance of our time there. She bought a pretty one with a tiki on it. After that, Dad retired and we moved to Northern Minnesota and then Northern Wisconsin. In the ’70 in the northern Midwest teens were playing guitar not ukes so the poor tiki was off to the closet.

A year and a half ago my wife and I went to Oahu to do a midwinter thaw. After we got back she bought me a uke for my birthday and I was once again hooked. I joined UU and quickly found out just what that tiki represented. Neither my folks nor my brother claimed to know the whereabouts of the uke. Last December my brother found it while digging in his basement. It had some major cracks from 45 years of neglect.

With two big cracks by the bridge I was afraid that I might rip a big piece of the soundboard off if I tuned it up. There were other cracks in the top, soundboard, fretboard, back and side. The tiki had lost his legs somewhere along the way.

MMStan (MM = much mahaloz in this case!) advised me to call Tekla at Kamaka and get the factory to do the repairs. Back to Honolulu it goes. They were able to save the top, of which I am grateful. It would be a shame to have a 1 year old soundboard on a 45 year old uke.

It arrived today and I hope the finish is drool resistant. The Kamaka factory did a super job. It won’t win any beauty prizes. It has had a rough live between a young me and then my brother's kids toting it around like a toy but I am just very grateful that they could turn what could have been a wall hanging into a wonderfully playing instrument.

I would post a vid or sound bite but my Apple miniMac is too old for any current devices to work and my iPad is first generation. Besides, I couldn’t do it justice.

A big thank you to everyone that helped, I’m taking the rest of the day off!

The Bridge before/after
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Soundhole before/after
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10-02-2012, 10:05 AM
More Pre pics

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10-02-2012, 10:07 AM
Congratulations on saving the life of that tiki ukulele! It looks great! Please post more photos when you have a chance.

10-02-2012, 10:07 AM
More post pics
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The Tiki never did get his legs fixed!

10-02-2012, 10:09 AM
They did a great job on a great uke!

10-02-2012, 11:56 AM
Very cool! I was impressed w/the job they did on my Kamaka Pineapple w/similar damage - except in my case, some previous owner had used WOOD SCREWS to tack down the bridge!

Nothing like their quality repair work to bring an old uke back to life. Enjoy for another 45 years now!

10-02-2012, 12:01 PM
Congratulations! Great ukulele. They did some nice work. Hope you enjoy playing it. From what I understand, those Tikis sound wonderful.

mm stan
10-02-2012, 12:41 PM
Aloha Jimmy,
Woo Hoo Amazing Job Kamaka did...it took long but they brought it back bruddah...wasn't the wait well worth it....so happy for you..
I am shua I Know what you are doing now in front of the computer....Happy Strummings....wonder if you can ask Kamaka who made those
Tikis for them....always nice to get his legs back...let me know

10-02-2012, 03:40 PM
That's a great story -- well done for taking the time, energy, (and expense) to have it restored.

10-02-2012, 04:04 PM
The restoration work is amazing. It must be like having a new instrument with the vintage feel and sound. :cool: I hope you get many more years of enjoyment out of your Kamaka.

10-03-2012, 03:41 AM
Good morning all. Thanks for all the kind comments. I fixed the after pics. My point and shoot camera doesn't do it justice.

The Kamaka crew did a super job. It sound wonderful. The hunt is now on for the perfect string for this uke. I played with the Kamaka string for a while then put on some lightly used Worth Medium Browns. Neither are "the one". I'm thinking of trying Living Waters and then Southcoast next.

The search is half the fun!

mm stan
10-03-2012, 04:35 AM
Yes I do not recommend worth browns...my gold label that came from across the pond had Pyramid strings and it sounds okay but not as nice as my white label with Aquilas dropped tuned..
I'd give freemont a try too...let me know how living waters or southcoast works on them..I have not used them on my tiki's as of yet....I am sure they will be great too..Happy Strummings MM

10-03-2012, 04:39 AM
Congrats, it looks great!

10-03-2012, 04:47 AM
A happy ending to a chapter at the beginning of the story!