How sturdy are Kamaka Ukuleles?


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Sep 11, 2022
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Curious if anyone knows how sturdy Kamakas are. Can you leave them out of the case hanging up? What about humidity and such? Anyone have anecdotes? For this thread let's say modern post 2000 Kamakas.
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I regularly see people playing (or selling) "gold label" Kamakas that are more than 60 years old. With basic care, Kamakas can last for many decades. Of course, if you run over your Kamaka with your car, it will probably get damaged. If the humidity in your home gets very dry for some part of the year, then humidity is an issue, just like with any solid wood musical instrument.
My 2017 HF-3 Tenor is pretty robust. It doesn't have a lightweight body like say, a Ko'olau T100 does. But it's not as heavy and strongly-made as the older Ponos were. The semigloss finish is a somewhat thin nitro that seals the surface well.

I sold mine and it was played pretty hard for a couple of years before I bought it back. It survived very well with only a few dings and scratches. It did have some fret sprout, yet almost any solid wood ukulele will get that if it hasn't had high enough humidification. So if you are going to hang your Kamaka on the wall, you'll need to have adequate room/whole-house humidification.

I don't baby mine. I don't have a problem leaving it out for a couple of days in the winter. I usually keep it in its case for protection as well as the humidity provided by Boveda/D'Addario Humidpacks.
If you want sturdy, buy something laminated or polycarbonate/plastic. Any solid wood instrument from any brand can be negatively affected by unreasonable humidity conditions
They are made of solid, thin wood, so they are not made to be abused. If used as a ukulele and properly humidified (and imo stored in a case), they should last generations.
Kamakas are legacy instruments and only become more collectible and increase in price every year. If you live in a place that requires humidifiers at any time or has salt in the air, keep it in a Kamaka hardshell with Oasis in the sound hole humidifier and a D’Addario/Boveda 2-way packet in the neck area for good measure. Get a composite to hang on the wall: Blackbird, Klos, Enya, Outdoor, Waterman…etc.
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