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Thread: 20s or 30s Kamaka Style 3 - Looking for Info

  1. #1
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    Default 20s or 30s Kamaka Style 3 - Looking for Info

    Here are photos of what I take to be a 20s or 30s Kamaka Style 3 soprano koa ukulele. A friend inherited it, and I am advising her regarding value and identification and repairs.

    I seem to see more of the pineapple shape sopranos than the 'traditional' shape, when it comes to Kamaka's of this earlier vintage. Does that reflect the production of the time?

    I wonder if the friction pegs are original, and whether they should be replaced with ebony pegs for optimum tuning.

    Also, I'd be grateful for any approximate values, once the top cracks are stabilized. And recommended luthiers in the Seattle area.

    Even string suggestions are welcome. Aquila Nylgut seems a good place to start.

    Thanks, Brad

    IMG_4835.jpg IMG_4833.jpg IMG_4834.jpg
    Last edited by BradKlein; 11-28-2017 at 01:00 PM.

  2. #2
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    Pictures up. Here's one more of the top. The angle minimizes the cracks, but they are there.

    IMG_4830.jpg
    BradKlein
    Senior Producer, Twangbox®
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  3. #3
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    Cool uke! I don't have any info to offer on it, but there's a great shop called Dusty Strings in Seattle (Fremont area) that does repairs and is very uke-friendly, so I'd start there if you don't get more specific luthier recommendations.

  4. #4
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    Thanks Jane, if that is your name! (I come from Mandolin Cafe where we use our names for the most part). Dusty Strings was my only thought. Never used them before, but good to hear they are a uke friendly repair shop.

    I should add that this was my first encounter with Hawaiian ukes. I've owned vintage Martin and Washburn - the mainland prewar instruments are really a different world in terms of craftsmanship, but I can see falling in love with the early Hawaiian makers. They must have been aiming at a much lower price point than even the Martin 0, but there is a lot of spirit in this Kamaka, that's for sure and it sounds very good even with the top cracks.

    Brad
    Last edited by BradKlein; 11-29-2017 at 05:04 AM.
    BradKlein
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BradKlein View Post
    Thanks Jane, if that is your name! (I come from Mandolin Cafe where we use our names for the most part).
    Ha - it's my Internet name.

    Quote Originally Posted by BradKlein View Post
    I should add that this was my first encounter with Hawaiian ukes. I've owned vintage Martin and Washburn - the mainland prewar instruments are really a different world in terms of craftsmanship, but I can see falling in love with the early Hawaiian makers.
    When I first started playing, I thought it was the vintage Martin sound I wanted. My first up-close encounter with a Kamaka was a 1950s pineapple, and it was love at first sight and sound. I ended up going the modern route but still love vintage - mainland or Hawaiian, either way.

  6. #6
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    A basic guide is provided by Kamaka themselves: http://www.kamakahawaii.com/ukedating.html, and a more extensive one by the Unofficial Kamaka Blog: https://unofficialkamakaukulele.word...amaka-ukulele/. A third source is the extensive article on Kamaka history in the Fretboard Journal #10 (2008).

    Kamaka started out in 1916, which doesn't make it an 'early Hawaiian maker' by the definitions of the late John King, but it is the oldest still surviving ukulele maker. The pineapple shape was patented in 1928. Rough dating is done by decals and the interior label, but your pictures don't show the latter. It certainly predates 1954, when the headstock decal went from a shield shape to the 'double k' logo. Since it has a blue background (which appeared around 1920) and features the Hawaiian coat of arms in the shield (replaced in the mid-1930s by a pineapple) that narrows it down to 1 1/2 decade. We really need the interior label to go further.

    The friction pegs seem to be original. Dusty Strings can probably recommend a good ukulele luthier, and you could compare them to Drew's Guitar shop which specialises in repairs (of guitars, but also much lighter instruments).

    The Guitar Price Guide gives ballpark figures for the value of these instruments, but a problem is they don't pop up very often. Hope this helps.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the FB Journal idea (sadly I only have them going back to 2010, but I'll find a copy). No label inside - at least not under the sound hole. So I was just dating by the decal and design. The pegs look original to me, too. I wonder what they made them out of in the period? Not ebony, or Koa.

    Anyone have the Kamaka price list for the period? I imagine that most (all?) were sold on island, but maybe there were mainland dealers for Kamaka? The Martins of the period ranged from $10 for Style 0 mahogany to $55 for a 5-K - case is extra, and as much as $12. (figures from the 1931 Martin list) I'm guessing that a Kamaka Style 3 sold for about $10 in the 20s-30s??

    I don't find many comparable sales, but the style #3 pineapples with the blue Hawaii decal seem to go for the $400-$800 range and that's what I'd GUESS for this once repaired.
    Last edited by BradKlein; 11-29-2017 at 06:25 AM.
    BradKlein
    Senior Producer, Twangbox®
    Twangbox® Videos

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by BradKlein View Post
    Here are photos of what I take to be a 20s or 30s Kamaka Style 3 soprano koa ukulele. A friend inherited it, and I am advising her regarding value and identification and repairs.

    I seem to see more of the pineapple shape sopranos than the 'traditional' shape, when it comes to Kamaka's of this earlier vintage. Does that reflect the production of the time?

    I wonder if the friction pegs are original, and whether they should be replaced with ebony pegs for optimum tuning.

    Also, I'd be grateful for any approximate values, once the top cracks are stabilized. And recommended luthiers in the Seattle area.

    Even string suggestions are welcome. Aquila Nylgut seems a good place to start.

    Thanks, Brad

    IMG_4835.jpg IMG_4833.jpg IMG_4834.jpg
    It's a kamaka 20s blue decal , 20s.. blue labels meant they were special builds, this is called a custom deluxe model
    Making music is a gift in itself, and when you can share it ....it is your gift to others

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mm stan View Post
    It's a kamaka 20s blue decal , 20s.. blue labels meant they were special builds, this is called a custom deluxe model
    Hmm... anyone want to expand on this post? Perhaps it's based on 'inside' info, published or unpublished materials I haven't seen?
    I had thought the blue decal was used into the 1930s? Were the Style 1,2,3 designations a later development? What constitutes "custom deluxe"?
    Last edited by BradKlein; 11-30-2017 at 02:40 AM.
    BradKlein
    Senior Producer, Twangbox®
    Twangbox® Videos

  10. #10
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    For a Kamaka of this type, I’d strongly consider sending it to the source and have Kamaka do the repairs themselves.

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