Posted 4 years ago
I purchased this vintage Kamaka "Special Concert Size" ukulele in Jan 2010. It had two hairline cracks on the top and two hairline cracks on the back. I had no experience whatsoever in reparing uke's or guitars but have done my own setup work with saddles on my collection of vintage Martin and Gibson guitars. Wanting to do the best possible restoration, I began working very meticously and slowly. It was very tedious work. I would sit and sand a little at a time. I found some quality wood products to fill the cracks in the Stew-Mac catalog. I had to apply several applications to build up the surface where the cracks would seal and not be visible. After I was satisfyed with the repairing the cracks I gave it an overall sanding, every nook and cranny. It was scary working around the original headstock decal but again by taking my time and being extra careful the decal survived in super shape. I then hand rubbed the new finish using several light coats. I treated my Kamaka like a precious baby! After I finished my Kamaka looked like the rare jewel it was originally. Maybe even better! I then took my Kamaka ukulele to a luither who installed a set of PEGHEAD tuners which I purchased from Elderly Instruments.
These are the best tuners on the market; planetary geared that will not slip which keeps the ukulele tuned in "perfect" fashion. They are made of lightweight poly-carbon. Retail they cost $80 a set. The luither also dressed the frets and put a new set of Aquila ukulele strings on my uke. The luither asked me, "Hey man... BTW, who did the awesome restoration job on your Kamaka?" He could not believe me when I told him that I did it myself. He took me around his shop to show me several guitar, mandolin and banjo kits prompting me saying that I would have no trouble putting one together if I could restore and refinish a ukulele that well. I took photos of my ukulele and sent them to the Kamaka factory in Honolulu. I received this email from Kamaka Company which read:
Re: Vintage Kamaka
Sales Team <email@example.com>
Fri, Sep 17, 2010 4:07 pm
Aloha Mr. Sizemore,
Today I was able to show Fred Kamaka Sr. the pictures that you emailed us and he said, "This ukulele was built in the early 193o's by my father, Sam Kamaka Sr ". He said he knew this because of the unique shape. As you know the blue seal was used during 1916 to 1953. Fred also mentioned that a great deal of of work went in to the making of the rope binding on your ukulele and that this binding was used only on the fancier models of that era.
When you visit Honolulu again come visit us at the factory, and if you have the time we have a free tour Tuesday thru Friday at 10:30
I know you will take great care of your ukulele, and thank you for spreading the Aloha!
KAMAKA HAWAII, INC.
550 SOUTH ST
HONOLULU, HI 96813-5010
My Kamaka is a real jewel and sounds like a dream. Look at the photos!!
Not sure if I will sell it, but might trade it for a old Martin D-18. Would enjoy hearing from Kamaka collectors and players.
If I still have my Kamaka this coming November ...I plan to take it with me on my third trip to Honolulu so I can show it to the Kamaka family/factory. I wish I knew how to play it....I'm a guitar picker!! firstname.lastname@example.org