5/25/2013

c.1930 Kamaka Monkeypod Soprano Ukulele


This plain-as-heck monkeypod-wood uke is the 4th of 8 ukes I'm working on for a customer. It was made by Kamaka (and thus Hawaiian) and dates around the 1930s. This is a typical body shape for their sopranos and it's a little deeper, wider, and has a longer scale than most Hawaiian sopranos from the time. This makes it feel less dated in ways to most of the peanut-shaped littler Hawaiian sopranos one usually sees.


Because the top is so thin on this uke, string tension actually severely dipped-in the top below the soundhole. My customer actually wondered if this one was worth salvage. Well, of course it is, it's a Kamaka!

I shored up that part of the top with a cedar bridge plate/brace and that seems to have stabilized it. I'm sure it sucked a little volume as well but this uke still has that warm, sweet, wider-palette sound I associate with older Kamakas.

Other work included seam repairs, bridge adjustment and reglue, fret level/dress, cleaning, and setup. The finish on this looked like it was entirely missing on the face, but after cleaning the thing came right back to life. Sometimes old finishes just get a lot of crud in their surface layer and a bit of spit and polish gets back to that original finish gleam nicely.


Original wood pegs and a nice Kamaka pineapple decal.


The brass frets are in good shape and the scale is quite accurate.


There were also a few small hairline cracks around the soundhole that needed fixing.



You can see some finish deterioration at the shoulders. I'll bet that dark patch was caused by layers and layers of dust interacting with the finish.


I'm pretty sure the wood on this uke is monkeypod since it doesn't have the grain and coloration typical with koa and Kamaka is known to have used the stuff on many of their ukes.




I love the look and weight of wood pegs on a uke.


Nothing going on at the endstrip on this guy!

3 comments:

UKEonomics said...

Love the wooden tuning pegs. I honestly didn't know that Kamaka made ukes from monkeypod. Thanks for educating me!

Antebellum Instruments said...

NP! -- not only Kamaka, but Lyon & Healy made a number of monkeypod ukes as well. Most of the Camp Ukes had monkeypod on them. It's a curious sound -- like somewhere between mahogany and koa. Real sweet.

Anonymous said...

thanks for share........