1/17/2013

c.1915 Hawaiian-made Kumalae Koa Ukulele


This rather plain-Jane Kumalae uke was a trade-in from a customer who picked up a different uke from me. It's been "well-worn" but, after the work I did on it, now plays and sounds great! It has that chirpy, light and bright and sweet, projecting Hawaiian sound that one hears on all the old records. The wider fretboard also makes it a lot nicer to play chords up and down the neck on.

The whole thing is made from relatively plain koa wood, it has a Spanish heel construction, and is all-original except for the friction pegs (1920s) that I installed from my parts bin.


Brass frets in a wide, thin (front to back) neck. They sit right on the face of the neck itself (rather than in a fretboard).

Repairs included a fret level/dress, replacement tuners, cleating and filling of cracks on the top and back, cleaning, and setup. The strings on it right now are Martin fluorocarbons which have a nice, sweet, bell-like tonality.


Cool Kumalae decal on the headstock.



Here you can see the two hairline/top cracks. I added cleats for stability, drop-filled them, then added a coat of finish to keep them protected. All stable, now.


Simple 3-ring rosette. I'm pretty sure these were made by simply scrawling out lines and then inlaying either thin bands of wood or clay/filler.



The whole uke is a very pretty golden-orange color and hte sides have some stripey figure.



These big cracks on the rear were sloppily "repaired" beforehand. I cleated where I could and then drop-filled and finished them to spruce them up.


1920s pegs are from my parts bin and work just fine.


Spanish heel joint (very sturdy) and also some scratched-in initials on the back of the neck.


Nice endstrip.

I forgot to also mention that I did some seam repairs to the top and back edges, as well, and a main brace re-glue, too.


Pretty stuff!

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