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View Full Version : Mystery Kamaka: anyone know this one?



Compulsor
03-05-2014, 03:48 PM
I recently bought this beauty, but it didn't come with any info, and I've only found one pic of a similar one in all my searching! It's all mahogany, has a gold lable and appears to possibly be from the 50s. I've emailed Kamaka, and I'll update if they can clear it up. Here's some pics: (and the only one I've found that's similar)

janeray1940
03-05-2014, 04:13 PM
The only mahogany Kamakas I've seen are Keiki sopranos from the 1960s. From the Kamaka site: 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 don't know that that is what you have, the ones that I've seen actually had a decal on the headstock that actually says Keiki, like this one (http://img88.imageshack.us/img88/4893/eb7d1jr2.jpg). The gold label was discontinued in 1969, so yours could be from the 60s.

Compulsor
03-05-2014, 04:55 PM
I tried to post 6 pics, that's all that showed up- can't clear the out or get others in; prob need to login to PC not my phone to correct.

Compulsor
03-05-2014, 04:57 PM
It has the vertical double k logo

Compulsor
03-05-2014, 05:02 PM
Looks like got it to upload...

janeray1940
03-05-2014, 05:21 PM
Just found an old UU post about a uke that looks just like yours (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?73452-Kamaka-Gold-Soprano-opinions-welcomed). And here's someone on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnw_1qOxVpg) playing a similar looking model.

It will be interesting to hear what Kamaka has to say. If you don't get a response, do give them a call - my experience is that their email can be hit or miss.

RyanMFT
03-05-2014, 07:11 PM
Janeray, Kamaka did use mahogany from time to time. I have a pineapple from the late 20's/early 30's, a style four, made of mahogany. Casey Kamaka told me that his grandfather used mahogany from time to time.

janeray1940
03-05-2014, 07:21 PM
Janeray, Kamaka did use mahogany from time to time. I have a pineapple from the late 20's/early 30's, a style four, made of mahogany. Casey Kamaka told me that his grandfather used mahogany from time to time.

I had a feeling you'd know something about this (and probably Stan, and a couple others). Thanks for the clarification.

Recently there was one of these mahogany sopranos like the OP's for sale on Los Angeles Craigslist... listed as "extremely rare" and if I remember correctly, the seller was asking $900 for it. I figured it was either a Japanese fake or a Keiki (with no headstock decal) worth $300-$400 tops, and that the seller was dreaming, but now I wonder if these really are that rare. I've certainly never encountered one in all my years of Kamaka fan-girlishness!

RyanMFT
03-05-2014, 08:30 PM
They do pop up on eBay from time to time. They clearly made vastly fewer mahogany ukuleles as compared to koa but even though "rarer" than koa Ukes I don't think it in any way makes them more valuable. In general, Kamaka owners want and expect a koa uke so the mahogany ones are more like the oddballs....like me!

Compulsor
03-06-2014, 03:54 PM
Excited to report back- I received a reply from Kamaka today:
"Hi Jim,
Thank you for all the pictures. Your ukulele was built sometime in the 60's. We changed the fingerboard in the early 60's and the label was changed in 1969. It was not unusual during that time to build an ukulele with Mahogany wood. It was really what they had available."

Also asked if I was interested in having it restored, I'm hoping they may be able to do that there, be pretty cool to have it return home to get well:)

Skinny Money McGee
03-07-2014, 02:07 AM
Aside from reading about them, this is only the 3rd one I've seen surface. (these are not the Kieki models made in Japan) I'd say they are very rare indeed and worth having Kamaka do a restoration on it. I think it was more like a series they did, rather than "what wood they had available". Seems like Koa would have been more available, than mahogany. They even inlaid dots on the bridge for this one.

Anyway, nice piece. Wish I had one, it would go well sitting right next to my same model year Koa Kamaka.

Compulsor
03-07-2014, 03:05 AM
worth having Kamaka do a restoration on it....They even inlaid dots on the bridge.

Thanks for the feedback, Skinny, The dots are definitely what caught my eye too!
Hope to hear back re: having them do the resto.

Skinny Money McGee
03-07-2014, 03:33 AM
They are putting the dots on the new HF-1D's (deluxe soprano) too.

janeray1940
03-07-2014, 06:35 AM
Excited to report back- I received a reply from Kamaka today:
"Hi Jim,
Thank you for all the pictures. Your ukulele was built sometime in the 60's. We changed the fingerboard in the early 60's and the label was changed in 1969. It was not unusual during that time to build an ukulele with Mahogany wood. It was really what they had available."

Also asked if I was interested in having it restored, I'm hoping they may be able to do that there, be pretty cool to have it return home to get well:)

Letting them restore it will well be worth the wait :)

How interesting that they refer to them as "not unusual" considering that several of us here with Kamakas on our radar have seen few or none of these before. What a lucky find!

RyanMFT
03-07-2014, 06:44 AM
I bet it will sound/play well if you do have it restored by Kamaka. Be aware that there is often a year wait as they have so much repair/restoration work. However, they do a great job and prices for the repairs (not including shipping) is usually very reasonable.

Compulsor
03-07-2014, 09:31 AM
Just heard back from Kamaka, I'll be shipping it off for estimate/repair, and he did say the wait time is 12-18 mo. because of the volume of repairs they do.
I'm in no hurry, if waiting means it'll be done right; just worried about shipping it thousands of miles, and NO idea how much to insure the package for.

Skinny Money McGee
03-07-2014, 09:44 AM
Just heard back from Kamaka, I'll be shipping it off for estimate/repair, and he did say the wait time is 12-18 mo. because of the volume of repairs they do.
I'm in no hurry, if waiting means it'll be done right; just worried about shipping it thousands of miles, and NO idea how much to insure the package for.


I don't think the mileage matters. Once it gets on a plane from the west coast, it's there in 6 or 7 hours. I would get a hard shell case, then pack that in a sturdy box and let er fly. If your shipping from a big city, it may end up on a plane and fly direct from there. I know Kamaka will say "don't send a case", but I would anyway. You can buy cheap 30 dollar hard cases from a number of places, then if Kamaka loses it, it's no big deal.

Compulsor
03-07-2014, 11:54 AM
You can buy cheap 30 dollar hard cases from a number of places, then if Kamaka loses it, it's no big deal.

Good tip! Was thinking of all kinds of crazy packing contraptions- case, duh! Should be pretty cool process, 18 mo would put it about Aug. of next yr, around my b-day, little longer, Christmas; either way, it'd be a nice present!