11/05/2012

c.1920 Hawaiian-made Hamaki Koa Soprano Ukulele




This pretty little orange-red uke is made from Hawaiian koa wood and was probably itself made in Hawaii around 1915-1920. It's built in the Hawaiian fashion with rough bracing and Spanish heel as well as the typical two-piece neck (classical fashion) and wider (side to side) fretboard with thinner (front to back) profile.

My work included a bridge reglue and modification to pin-bridge, fret level/dress, hairline crack repair & cleating to the crack at the bass side of the bridge, cleaning, and setup. It plays nice with 1/16" to 3/32" action at the 12th and has a sweet, poppy, loud, and bell-like tonality which suits strumming and fingerpicking, both. It's Hawaiian-sounding all the way and has great authority for such a small box.


This has that classic "peanut" shape with a wider lower bout. The finish is original and (as typical for the non-major Hawaiian makes) is pretty bare-bones plain varnish, but serves to protect it well.


Fun "shield" headstock with original wood violin-style pegs. The neck may be mahogany... or just a different-colored selection of koa. Nut is original celluloid.


12 frets set right into the face of the neck in traditional fashion.


The simple rosette looks nice. Also note the tiny hairline crack (stable) at the top of the soundhole. This was glued-up in the instrument's past.


Because of the settled-in geometry of the uke, I had to cut down the original bridge before regluing it to get the action lower. This necessitated installing pins (these are ebony) to mount the strings instead of the usual back-loading fashion to get proper break-angle over the saddle.


Nice label inside.




I love seeing original wood pegs. These are well-fit, too.



The back is actually arched which looks real nice and I'm sure adds stiffness and helps projection.



Here you can see the Spanish heel construction (no neck block, since the neck and neck block are one piece).




The sides are all one piece of wood!

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