My Treasure; The Saga of my Ukulele

dtikim1

New member
Joined
Sep 12, 2010
Messages
153
Points
0
My interest in playing a 4 string ukulele has been recently rekindled by my son Nick, who is also a member on this forum. For the past few years I have concentrated only on strumming while playing with Auntie Maelani Wilcox with her ukulele class at the Hui here in San Diego. I play on 2 Kamaka's; a custom tenor 6 and custom tenor 8 string. Well, since my rekindled interest, i have become infected with UAS and placed an order for a custom Tenor by Mya Moe (Brazilian Rosewood/Bisquit Fire Cedar) soon to start production, as well a pre 1940 or so 12 fret Martin Tenor in perfect condition from whendogsings.

I remembered that back in 1972 after my graduation from St. Louis High School in Honolulu, I had bought a concert sized ukulele off the shelf from Uncle Sam Kamaka at the Kamaka Factory. I played it as a hobby never becoming a picking wizard. Well 17 years ago, we moved from Hawaii to San Diego and my ukulele was shipped along with all of our other stuff and then put away in the closet, only to be forgotten. Needless to say, after 17 years of not being touched or thought of, I decided to get it out of the closet. To my dismay, I couldn't find it. I searched everywhere!!! Everywhere where I thought it would have been placed, but auwe it was not to be found Well since there was nothing I could do, I finally accepted the fact that it was probaby lost or accidently thrown away. My wife continued the search, and low and behold she found it!!!

With great anticipation, I rushed home from work. It was in its original chipboard box. When I opened the case to my amazement, I realized that I had a treasure. The ukulele is an Ohta San model (Bell Shaped body); in fact it is a custom Ohta San in Koa with I believe maple binding. I remember that I had a Hawaiian Tiki put on the headstock as well as a nameplate with my name and year of purhase. You will agree that this was indeed a FIND. But it wasn't until i looked into the "puka" at the label, which eaten off and enjoyed by the Hawaii Cockroaches who somehow got into the case, that I nearly lost my pants and fainted. (just the edges were chewed) It read: August 11, 1972; No. 1;Custom made Ohta San. Realizing that I had such a treasure all of this time, i felt regret that I did not take better care of this instrument. This baby is in very good shape; no nicks, but a small crack on the back of the ukulele (because I did not have a humdifier in the case). This crack looks like it did not go all the way through to the other side and in no ways affects the sound and intonation. I will have it checked by the luthier at the Blue Guitar here in San Diego and will have it checked out at the Kamaka factory on my next trip to Hawaii. I have restrung it with Aquila concert strings in high G and have fallen love with this baby again and will treat it with "tender loving care". It now resides in its original case with a humidifier. I will try to attach a few pictures; if I dont succeed I will post it in another post.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_0453.jpg
    IMG_0453.jpg
    40.5 KB · Views: 91
  • IMG_0452.jpg
    IMG_0452.jpg
    37.5 KB · Views: 83
  • IMG_0451.jpg
    IMG_0451.jpg
    40.1 KB · Views: 93
  • IMG_0450.jpg
    IMG_0450.jpg
    27.5 KB · Views: 80

Kanaka916

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
7,833
Points
48
Eh, brah! 72 St. Louis grad. I grad from FHS. I left in 75 wen I went in the AF. My family still ova dea and always goin be home. Your Ohta-san look good. Keep dat buggah cause dey no make um li'dat anymo. I would call Kamaka fo see if da crack can be repaired or replaced and how much goin cost. Eh, goin be mo cheaper den getting one made.
 

808boy

New member
Joined
Oct 30, 2010
Messages
1,532
Points
0
Aloha Dtikim1,
What an awesome story,good for your Brah, even if you're a St. Louis guy (Farrington here) ha,ha. I bet when you realized what you had in your hands, you must have started shaking from excitement, I had chicken skin reading you story. Wishing you and your uke a happy journey together............SHAKA BRAH..............BO..........
 

mm stan

Mystery Man
UU VIP
Joined
Feb 5, 2010
Messages
28,207
Points
38
Aloha DtiKim1,
I have seen a few Kamaka Ohta sans and My friends owns two of them.....I have a kamaka Tiki Concert....but I have never seen a Ohta san Tiki...it must be really rare and few made..I believe tikis were
made between 1969-1974 approx...I would'nt let that thing go for anything, pass dat bugga on in the family....They no make those no more...and yours seems to be the 1st made...model 1
I would only have it fixed at kamaka, plus their prices are the best....thanks for sharing, wouldn't mind hearing that bugga pound sum soundz..I wonder if it's a Proto type?? Happy Strummings!! MM Stan..
 
Last edited:

mwaller

New member
Joined
Mar 5, 2009
Messages
134
Points
0
What a great story and awesome uke! Congratulations, and thanks for sharing. That is truly a unique instrument!
Mika
 
R

RyanMFT

Guest
Wow, amazing...thanks for sharing the story. One question....where did your wife find it?

Well, one more....is that an inlay at the bottom of the soundboard, maybe an ebony inlay? I haven't seen anything like that on a Kamaka before (not that I know much about Kamaka).
 

GX9901

New member
Joined
Jan 14, 2008
Messages
1,276
Points
0
Whoa! That's a killer find indeed! Ukulelefriend.com have a couple of custom Ohta-sans for sale for 5 figures!
 

DAPuke

New member
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
1,525
Points
0
Thanks for sharing your story. I'll be waiting for sound samples:)
DAP
 

misterpk

New member
Joined
Mar 22, 2010
Messages
3,806
Points
0
Ha! It's really funny how your memory can deceive you. I don't remember it being any different than any other ukulele I saw growing up as a kid. I even argued with him that his memory was funny and that there was no way his lost uke was an Ohta-san. The headstock is exactly as I remember, with his name plate and tiki on it, but the body is totally different. I guess things look different when you're a kid.

Life is very funny. I was telling my dad that I was bummed because the only Kamaka I would consider buying was an Ohta-san model and I heard Kamaka is no longer making them. He was laughing because he said it's too bad that he lost his old one. A few weeks later Mom finds it!

RyanMFT, my Mom found the uke in a closet in the family room. Strange place for an instrument as all the other instruments are in the closet in my old bedroom. My dad waited all of a month or so after I told them I wasn't moving back home after college to claim it for his second office!

My dad called me immediately after Mom called him to tell him he found it. He was super excited. It's pretty cute to hear your dad giddy like a school kid. He was in Hawaii at the time and he had his Martin AND his old Kamaka waiting for him when he returned. Not a bad thing to return to if you ask me!
 

dtikim1

New member
Joined
Sep 12, 2010
Messages
153
Points
0
Eh brah...you are old enough to remember the old ILH football league when St. Louis and Farrington were rivals along with Damien and Punahou ad all of the other high schools in Honolulu. As well as playing in the old stadium, the termite palace....haha. Where are you located now if not in Hawaii?

I don't plan to sell this baby, just make some minor adjustments like changing the tuners and fixing the crack if can be done. Well take are and Aloha.

dtikim1
 
Last edited:

dtikim1

New member
Joined
Sep 12, 2010
Messages
153
Points
0
Aloha Dtikim1,
What an awesome story,good for your Brah, even if you're a St. Louis guy (Farrington here) ha,ha. I bet when you realized what you had in your hands, you must have started shaking from excitement, I had chicken skin reading you story. Wishing you and your uke a happy journey together............SHAKA BRAH..............BO..........

Another Farrington guy...aloha

Yep i did have chicken skin when i opened up the case an many mahalo for the good wishes. aloha
 

TCK

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 11, 2010
Messages
5,292
Points
83
Time to buy the wife a diamond- what a find. When I got my first Uke (Martin type 3M, 1940's), I was kinda bummed because I quickly realized I would never be a rock star...My fingers are too short for a standard guitar. My dad asked me if I wanted to play the accordion and I said sure.
He went on a mad search of the house and did not find his old accordion.
Then he got a phone call, all within the same week..."Doug, I have an accordion you probably left here in the fifties-if you want it, come and get it"
My Grandma used to sit local kids and my dad had left the accordion at one of their houses, in 1958, and here they were calling in 1993 and telling him to get it.
In any event and long story short- I still have that Martin (thanks to dad), 18 accordions and 10 Ukuleles. Seems I was meant to play the little guitars, but it took 20 years to realize it (I have played Uke for 3 months now).
Funny how life deals you cards and then plays them so far in the future.
 

dtikim1

New member
Joined
Sep 12, 2010
Messages
153
Points
0
Ha! It's really funny how your memory can deceive you. I don't remember it being any different than any other ukulele I saw growing up as a kid. I even argued with him that his memory was funny and that there was no way his lost uke was an Ohta-san. The headstock is exactly as I remember, with his name plate and tiki on it, but the body is totally different. I guess things look different when you're a kid.

Life is very funny. I was telling my dad that I was bummed because the only Kamaka I would consider buying was an Ohta-san model and I heard Kamaka is no longer making them. He was laughing because he said it's too bad that he lost his old one. A few weeks later Mom finds it!

RyanMFT, my Mom found the uke in a closet in the family room. Strange place for an instrument as all the other instruments are in the closet in my old bedroom. My dad waited all of a month or so after I told them I wasn't moving back home after college to claim it for his second office!

My dad called me immediately after Mom called him to tell him he found it. He was super excited. It's pretty cute to hear your dad giddy like a school kid. He was in Hawaii at the time and he had his Martin AND his old Kamaka waiting for him when he returned. Not a bad thing to return to if you ask me!

Aloha son
you've said it all...it was exactly like you described. And I am still giddy with excitement and thankfulness that it wasn't lost.
 

Kanaka916

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
7,833
Points
48
Eh brah...you are old enough to remember the old ILH football league when St. Louis and Farrington were rivals along with Damien and Punahou ad all of the other high schools in Honolulu. As well as playing in the old stadium, the termite palace....haha. Where are you located now if not in Hawaii?

I don't plan to sell this baby, just make some minor adjustments like changing the tuners and fixing the crack if can be done. Well take are and Aloha.

dtikim1
Location wise - I stay up hea in Sac afta I got out, mo fo personal reasons vs trying to relocate. Everything wen work out, so not bad. Besides up hea get plenne local guys.
Those were da days, ILH and OIA . . . speaking of termite palace. You no what Brah, gotta keep fond memories cause everything was so simple, easy and laid back.

Honolulu+Stadium3.bmp
 

dtikim1

New member
Joined
Sep 12, 2010
Messages
153
Points
0
Wow, amazing...thanks for sharing the story. One question....where did your wife find it?

Well, one more....is that an inlay at the bottom of the soundboard, maybe an ebony inlay? I haven't seen anything like that on a Kamaka before (not that I know much about Kamaka).

Yes...it seems that it is ebony...i will need to confirm that with the Kamaka's when I take it back to Hawaii
 

dtikim1

New member
Joined
Sep 12, 2010
Messages
153
Points
0
Location wise - I stay up hea in Sac afta I got out, mo fo personal reasons vs trying to relocate. Everything wen work out, so not bad. Besides up hea get plenne local guys.
Those were da days, ILH and OIA . . . speaking of termite palace. You no what Brah, gotta keep fond memories cause everything was so simple, easy and laid back.

Honolulu+Stadium3.bmp

Eh Brah...thanks for the response and by da way...whea did you find the pic of the old stadium in moilili. Jus seems like yesterday that it was there.
 

Kanaka916

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
7,833
Points
48
I wen just google Honolulu Stadium . . .
 

dtikim1

New member
Joined
Sep 12, 2010
Messages
153
Points
0
Time to buy the wife a diamond- what a find. When I got my first Uke (Martin type 3M, 1940's), I was kinda bummed because I quickly realized I would never be a rock star...My fingers are too short for a standard guitar. My dad asked me if I wanted to play the accordion and I said sure.
He went on a mad search of the house and did not find his old accordion.
Then he got a phone call, all within the same week..."Doug, I have an accordion you probably left here in the fifties-if you want it, come and get it"
My Grandma used to sit local kids and my dad had left the accordion at one of their houses, in 1958, and here they were calling in 1993 and telling him to get it.
In any event and long story short- I still have that Martin (thanks to dad), 18 accordions and 10 Ukuleles. Seems I was meant to play the little guitars, but it took 20 years to realize it (I have played Uke for 3 months now).
Funny how life deals you cards and then plays them so far in the future.

Agreed...funny how life deals you cards. Like you I discovered that I will never be a rock star playing the guitar because my fingers are too short to do some of those complicated chord inversions. This was after purchasing 2 martin guitars: a dreadnaught Martin Marquis and Martin Marquis OM...oh well what can I say. Don't play them much anymore, they're collecting dust but being carefully taken cared of. haha

I also got into playing the Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer and also have a few custom made ones from builders like, Jerry Rockwell, and Bonnie Carrol.

My Ukuleles presently are; Kamaka Soprano, Kamaka Tenor 6 string, Kamaka 8 string, Kamaka custom Ohta San, Martin pre 1940 (?) 12 fret Tenor T-1, and a concert Fluke. By the way take nothing away from the Fluke it sound pretty darn good. Aloha!!!
 

Ronnie Aloha

Mahalo Sen. Dan, R.I.P.
UU VIP
Joined
Aug 6, 2009
Messages
2,004
Points
38
That's a great rediscovery of your Ohta-san. Like Stan, I think you should ONLY have Kamaka fix it. I'm sure it is not big deal for them since my ukes were in way worse shape when I took them in for repair. If the bottom were really bad they would just replace the whole back. The top board would be an issue since the fret board makes that almost impossible.

Man, you St. Louis guys had some kala for buy one gem like dat right out of high school. Us Castle guys was happy for a case of Primo or Baby Milla's!

The Termite Palace brought back so many memories of my dad and going to Islander baseball games (Chuck Warehouse, Winston Llenas, Rocket Rod Gaspar) The $1,000 puka in right center, boiled peanuts, that vendor who would walk though the stands yelling, "Hot dogs, peanuts, chips, Coke!" throughout the game, watching Mosi Tatupu, RIP, running roughshod like a man amongst boys while playing for Punahou...
 

Kanaka916

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
7,833
Points
48
No staht wit da boiled peanuts! Dem tings was so ono, auwe! Next ting you know, goin get beef in da pahking lawt.