View Full Version : Kamaka Gold Label made in Japan

10-07-2013, 05:54 PM
Dear UUers,

I tried to search information of the japanese Kamaka production, and how to differentiate these from Hawaiian made ones.
Most sources cite Kamaka Keiki ukes made in Japan in the 60's, clearly identified by their distinctive headstock inscription "k keiki" instead of "k k".

However, one recent ebay sale confused me, a uke with a hawaiian looking headstock but with a "japan" sticker at the back of the headstock, and a gold label inside the body. The wood and binding don't look like hawaiian made Kamaka, but still make me wondering...
If it was a fake Kamaka, the label "japan" would certainly not be.
Do you know other examples of japanese Kamaka with this kk headstock and potentially looking like their hawaiian siblings?

I will upload the pics later today.


mm stan
10-07-2013, 07:41 PM
To my knowledge only Kamaka keikis were fabicated in Japan.....they were made there because kamakas were being copied so much...

10-07-2013, 09:30 PM
Thanks Stan,

Yes that is what is said on the Kamaka website:
"From 1963 to 1970, to compete against unscrupulous ukulele manufacturers who tried to sell fake "Kamaka" ukuleles in Japan, Kamaka & Sons Enterprises collaborated with Tokyo Stringed Manufacturing Co., Ltd. to produce ukuleles for sale in Japan. Called "Keiki Kamaka," the ukuleles were made of mahogany, and were only available in the standard (soprano) size. "Keiki" means "child" in Hawaiian, a fitting name for the lowest-priced, beginner's model."

I've just find out there http://database.ukulelecorner.org.uk/i-j-k/kamaka that "Some had a Keiki added to the lower K of the logo and some had the ordinary double K logo" !!

Here are the pics from the ebay sale

10-07-2013, 09:37 PM
Sorry for the pics files I have not renamed from ebay !

What is still strange is that it looks more like koa to me, when Kamaka say that the japanese Kamaka ukes were made of mahogany...

Whatcha think ?!

Skinny Money McGee
10-08-2013, 03:54 PM
That peghead looks awful fat to me. Here's a 1961 gold label soprano.

10-12-2013, 05:56 PM
No more thougts?!

The wood on the pics looks more like Koa, right?

That would mean that some Kamaka made in Koa with kk decal and gold label were made in Japan.

02-14-2015, 01:23 PM
I've just purchased a Kamaka Gold Label on Ebay with the Japan sticker on the back the the Kk logo on the front. I'm guessing it's mahogany. Paid maybe too much for it $299. I haven't received it yet, but good to know that some have just the Kk on the front without the Keiki.

02-14-2015, 01:48 PM
No more thougts?!

The wood on the pics looks more like Koa, right?

That would mean that some Kamaka made in Koa with kk decal and gold label were made in Japan.

It does look like koa to me as well. I seem to recall past threads here that have addressed made-in-Japan Kamakas, and while the vast majority were mahogany, did not have binding, and had the K + Keiki on the headstock, I'm almost certain that there were exceptions. I'm pretty sure someone here has a koa one, with binding, and with just the KK and no Keiki, but can't recall who it was.

That said - based on the photos, something about the proportions - the headstock, the body shape - doesn't seem very Kamaka-esque to me. It looks more in keeping with the 1960s Japanese manufacturers that I've seen. Also, I don't think I've ever seen a vintage Kamaka with a rosette of any kind.

Full disclaimer: I'm not claiming to be an expert at all; I've just seen a lot of Kamakas over the years and am going with that :)

02-14-2015, 05:20 PM
For the price I think it would be cool to have a knock-off from that era. I agree it doesn't look like a gold label... I'm holding mine in my hand and looking at the pics. The headstock, body, and heel look different. Pretty cool instrument though. Here's my gold label for comparison. It looks like the fretboard is pretty close, but that is about it.

09-11-2015, 05:21 AM
This is the Kamaka for sale on Phoenix Craigslist, made in Japan, finished in Hawaii? Anyone know the story behind this? Are the values equivalent to all Hawaiian?
83322 83323 83324 83325

09-12-2015, 07:20 AM
I guess no one cares much for Japanese made Kamakas, anyway, here's what kamaka had to say:

"The Kamaka ukuleles with the “Fabricated by Kamaka, Japan Ltd.” label
were manufactured in Japan between the mid-1960s to 1971. During that time, the
demand for affordable ukuleles for beginners in Hawaii and overseas, especially
in Japan, was impossible for Sam Kamaka, Jr. to meet. With the help of the
Hiroshi Endo family, he was able to meet the demand.

Most of the ukuleles made in Japan were made of Philippine mahagony wood, but a few were made with
koa. Yours is koa. The ukuleles that have the label “Hand Finished by Kamaka
Hawaii,” were finished (sprayed and polished) here at the factory in

09-12-2015, 12:31 PM
As UkerDanno knows, I was quite interested in the particular ukulele however was disappointed to learn that it was actually built in Japan, contracted out by Kamaka, not Hawaiian made. :-(

11-08-2015, 02:24 PM
One of these has surfaced in Ontario. The seller is looking for $650 CDA for it which I think is kind of high for it.

Interesting back story on it. Gotta love this forum.

11-08-2015, 03:25 PM
It would seem to me based on some of the info linked in the above posts that getting a Koa MIJ Kamaka would be more appealing in the collecting realm for the MIJ produced Ukes. So that under $300 price for a decent condition and playable Uke may become a bargain years down the road???