View Full Version : Gorgeous, scarce Sam Chang vintage Hawaiian tenor

Tommy B
10-16-2013, 09:42 AM
Hi everyone. I am selling all my nice tenor ukuleles, because for the last year I have played concert uke almost exclusively. I was planning on keeping the tenors because I figured I would eventually get back to them, but I just got hit with a massive veterinary bill, and I can't afford the luxury of keeping unplayed instruments around.

First up is one of my all-time favorite vintage tenors. Sam Chang was one of the old Hawaiian builders. He started out building for Sam Kamaka and eventually opened his own shop. He built many of the ukes sold under the Summers brothers name. He is known for his sopranos, but his concert and tenor ukes are pretty hard to find.


This uke is probably 1940s or '50s vintage. It does not have a Tabu stamp. It features flamey koa, cream binding (like a Martin style 2), low action, and a deep soundbox with a beautifully curved back. It also has a modern-ish 1.5-inch nut width, with string spacing from G to A at about 1.25 inches. Action is wonderful up the neck: please see the photo album. It is all original except for a strap pin installed in the butt end. The voice is lovely, responsive and resonant. I'll try to record some sound samples.

The original alligator chipboard case is included. It's in beat-up but functional condition, and it's certainly done its job of protecting the uke. At the buyer's request, I will replace it at no charge with a zippered UkeCrazy foam hard case. (Or you can have both for $20 more, plus whatever additional shipping results from the larger box.)

This uke has three old repaired cracks. Two of them -- one on the soundboard below the bridge and the other on the back -- are sealed up and nearly invisible. The third, longer one, is on the back and was sealed, cleated and filled with what I'm guessing is tinted lacquer or whatever a luthier might have used (not sure). That longer crack also extended through the binding and about 3/4 inch down the side. It has been repaired and is no longer an issue, although it is visible. See the photos.

This is a beautiful and pretty scarce ukulele that's also a great-sounding and -playing instrument. Serious mana! I'm asking $600 plus actual shipping.

Here's an album of additional photos:

Please PM me or email me directly at eightpaws-at-sbcglobal-dot-net.

Thank you.


Tommy B
10-31-2013, 06:27 PM
Bump with price reduction. This is a great price for a scarce, vintage Hawaiian tenor.

11-01-2013, 05:19 AM
Hey Tommy

Bring it to the Sleeping Lady in Fairfax Saturday 2-4. Meet 30-40 ukesters and maybe sell your tenor.

11-01-2013, 06:14 AM
Beautiful uke, Tom!
Great price too.

Tommy B
11-01-2013, 03:50 PM
Thanks, Ernie.

And Sonomajazz, are you a regular at the Sleeping Lady? I'm an old UFO member, but have dropped out.

11-01-2013, 09:18 PM
I'll be there Sat. I'll be up front with a DaSilva koa concert.
Stop on by.

11-03-2013, 02:24 PM
Tom, Is the finish original? Also, what is the Tabu stamp you refer to?

Thanks, Tim

PS Hope your critter is doing ok.

Tommy B
11-03-2013, 02:55 PM
Hi Tim. Thanks for asking, and thanks for the well wishes for my cat (he's recovering from surgery, but time will tell).

Yes, the finish is original. The Tabu stamp was a brand that many of the early Hawaiian builders put on their ukes in the early part of the century to distinguish their instruments from mainland-built instruments that were being sold as "Hawaiian." You can see a photo of a Tabu stamp on an identical tenor uke to mine here (on the back of the headstock):


This uke was labeled under the Summers name, but it's clearly a Chang-built tenor. The fact that mine has no Tabu stamp suggests it was built later. (I believe Sam Chang built ukes until the 1950s.)

BTW, you can see a listing for another Chang-built tenor (sold) here:


Also, the late MusicGuyMike playing an equally scarce Sam Chang concert here:


11-04-2013, 02:22 PM
Tom, A few more questions if I may. I love the uke by the way.

I'm a little confused - you say this uke is labeled under the Summers name - is there a stamp or label inside or outside to this effect because I didn't recall seeing one in your photos.

As well, after your comment about the Summers name, you say it is clearly a Chang built uke. It obviously has a label on the back of the headstock that says Sam Chang, which made me assume right off the bat it was in fact built by Mr Chang - are you saying that some ukes built by the Summers brothers carried his name but weren't necessarily built by him, or something else altogther.

Appreciate the time and trouble.


Tommy B
11-04-2013, 02:37 PM
Hi Tim. Sorry for the confusion. I was referring not to my ukulele, but to the one that I linked to on the Gryphon Strings site (in my last post). That uke, not mine, is labeled under the Summers name. Mine, as you correctly point out, is labeled Sam Chang. I was just pointing out the one at Gryphon so you could see what a Tabu stamp looked like, and also see that some Sam Chang-built tenors featured the Tabu stamp.

Does this help? :rolleyes:

Tommy B
11-06-2013, 05:11 AM
The uke is no longer available. Thanks to everyone who inquired.