View Full Version : FS: Gold Label Kamaka Soprano (1950ish)

03-16-2013, 04:33 AM
Aloha, UU.

I purchased this gold label Kamaka via an estate sale on eBay in the hopes it would fill a gap between my two main players, a mahogany Timms 0 and a spruce/walnut Bruko. Unfortunately, this Kamaka doesn't quite have the sound I'm after. I can return the uke, but before I do I thought I'd post it in case anyone is looking for something similar.

Here's the specs:

Solid koa top, back sides
Koa neck
Koa fretboard (in the Ka Lai style)
Koa headstock
Rosewood bridge (koa saddle)
Rosewood nut
Vintage friction tuners
Strung with Southcoast mediums
Chipboard/faux leather case


Here's all the bad news:

1. There's a repaired crack running from the bridge (below the first string) down towards the bottom of the lower bout. It seems stable, but some dirt/grime makes it stand out (perhaps more than it should).

2. The back separated slightly from the sides at the seam. This too has been repaired, but it's not as nice a job. (To my mind, it's worth having done again.)

3. There's a bit of glue on the bass side of the bridge. If I had to guess, the bridge was re-glued at some point.

4. The whole uke needs a bath. (Seriously -- and it's kind of a shame, because it could look really, really good. There aren't really any nicks, rash, or strum marks to speak of, although maybe they're hiding under there somewhere!)

5. The tuners are functional and hold well, but there's some tarnish of the bushings.

6. The case is functional, but it's dirty and its buckles are tarnished.

And here's the good news:

1. It plays well -- exactly as I'd expect an old Kamaka to: it's mellow, has decent note separation, and definitely has that Hawaiian sound.

2. The playability is better than I expected for a fifty-odd year old instrument -- the action is nice and low, the frets are even, the intonation is clean up the board.

3. It sounds good in C tuning, but mmstan put me on to Bb tuning, which I was admittedly skeptical about for a soprano. It sounds awesome! I don't understand why, but there's no booming quality to the bass notes, and the trebles still ring out, even with less tension. (I'd probably try different strings if I were going to keep it in Bb, just to get a bit more tension.)

More pics to follow, and perhaps a sound sample if I can steal a few minutes this evening, but for now:

$340 gets this shipped to your door, CONUS. I've allotted for $20 shipping; if it's less I'll reimburse you. International buyers: shoot me a PM and we'll figure something out.


03-16-2013, 04:35 AM
More pics:


50363 A quick note about the fretboard: this is the first uke I've purchased that has wear to the first few frets. I was a bit apprehensive, but it was all for naught -- it makes no difference in intonation, and I can't feel the marks when playing.

03-16-2013, 04:36 AM
And more pics:
50364 It's difficult to photograph, but one thing I love about this uke is the neck shape. It's a thin, fast neck, but what's cool about it is that, from the nut to about the fifth fret, the middle section of the neck is almost flat. I was totally surprised by how comfortable this makes barre chords. To put it another way, imagine the shape of a Flea or Fluke, and then breed it with the speed and delicacy of a Loprinzi.



50367 In these pics, I was trying to capture how well the neck is set. Those dovetail joints last forever! I hope you can see the action as well.

03-16-2013, 04:38 AM
And, more pics (these are the nasty ones!):
50368 The repaired crack

50369 The (perhaps) re-glued bridge

50370 The seam separation (And not to make light of it, but I worked hard to show this in the worst possible light. It's not nearly so garish in person.)

03-16-2013, 04:40 AM
And finally, pics with the case:

03-18-2013, 01:14 PM
As promised, here's a brief sound sample in Bb: http://soundcloud.com/user92796094/sounds-from-monday-evening/s-praco

It's recorded using the crap external speaker on the iPad. Backup vocals provided by my daughter, who turned one today!

Sample in C coming as soon as the strings settle...

03-18-2013, 01:26 PM
And, here's a sample in C: http://soundcloud.com/user92796094/kamaka-in-c/s-mqSXY

I don't know if it comes through, but to my ear C is OK, while Bb is fantastic.

The more I play this uke, the more I like it... And I have to make the decision of whether or not to return it by the end of the week. UAS is a fickle mistress, for sure.

If there are any potential buyers out there, feel free to post any questions.

Cheers, everyone.

03-20-2013, 12:20 PM
The uke's going back tomorrow, ladies and gents, so this is the last call.

I'm closing the thread, but if anyone's interested you can PM me.