11/10/2013

c.1925 Aloha (Akai?) Koa Soprano Ukulele


Update: Received this from a member on Uke Underground: "I believe the Aloha was built by tai Chong Goo, better known as Akai." Thanks for that!

The Aloha Manufacturing Company must've been pretty busy judging by the numerous examples of their work I've handled myself. I'm guessing these were mostly intended as tourist ukes as they're not built to the same standards as fancier brands (action-wise, anyway) but they have that remarkable, off-kilter, island-built charm and this example tends towards a sweeter tone vs. many bright, lively island-made ukes. This has the TABU label also stamped inside the uke.

Work included a bridge reglue (no, the glue mess around the bridge was not by my hand), fret level/dress, seam repairs, addition of a small bridge plate, crack repairs, cleaning, and setup. It plays well (action is a hair below 3/32" at the 12th but a 1/16" at the 10th, which is "spot on" as far as it goes, but like many Hawaiian ukes the last two frets "dip down" vs. the rest at the joint).




The whole thing is made of gorgeous, semi-curly, and stripey-as-heck koa and the outsized "rope" binding and trim all over looks pretty nice. It has a good, pumpkin-orange color to it that's pretty striking in the sun.



I love the "zipper" inlay down the neck.


Don't you love that rosette?


Guh, I'll tell you -- there was some ugly "repair" to this bridge in the past. I actually removed a ton of gobbled-up glue and muck when I cut-down and then reglued the bridge, but it's still quite obvious. Oh well! This is why it's best to let someone in the know do your repair work lest it haunt you down the years...






The original pegs work just fine. Isn't the streaky wood in the neck fun? Someone must've been having "cool grain fever" in the workshop when they put this one together.





I don't know of a Worester, Mass... but Worcester, Mass -- maybe! This is just the retailer's label.

No comments: