SinceKamaka Hawaii, Inc. Like the ukuleles, the company itself continues to withstand the test of time. The company's longevity shows its commitment to both customer and employee alike, and reflects other important values as well. From Kamaka Hawaii, Inc. The producers of a documentary entitled "Heart Strings: The Story of the Kamaka 'Ukulele," describe the Kamaka history this way: "Theirs is a story of hard work, fortitude, honesty and creativity as seen through a distinctly Hawaiian point of view, rooted in such concepts as Aloha unconditional loveMalama to serve and care forand Pono doing what's right.

The Ukulele: A brief history

Kamaka Hawaii, Inc. When Sam Jr. His wife, Geraldine, was an ocupational therapist, and she suggested that the company consider employing disabled people. Sam Jr. The company found that the hearing-impaired craftsmen were conscientious, dedicated, and highly motivated toward perfection.

And with their heightened sense of touch, the craftsmen's "disability" turned out to be a tremendous asset. They drum their fingers on the wood and feel the vibrations. On August 31, Kamaka Hawaii held a special celebration to honor the retirement of two of those master craftsmen, Jose Hipolito Jr. Jose had been with the company for 44 years, and Kenneth for 40 years. Even more than the growth in the number of employees over the years, Kamaka Hawaii is most proud of the stability of its workforce, and believes they are the true reason for the company's enduring success.

The company also provides discounted ukuleles for school music programs and regularly donates ukuleles to charitable organizations for fundraising. They provide lectures and demonstrations to various civic groups, senior citizens and other interested organizations. Free factory tours are also given on a regular basis to elementary school students and the general public.

These community outreach efforts offer a valuable educational experience for all ages, while helping to stimulate and maintain interest in the ukulele, a beloved and integral part of Hawaiian culture. When Sam Sr. They understood their father's vision for bringing Hawaiian music to the world via the ukulele, and chose to continue his legacy.

The Kamaka family extends their aloha and gratitude to all who have supported them over the years, and they hope you like playing your Kamaka ukulele as much as they liked making it for you!Isn't there something missing?

When a Portuguese immigrant, Joao Fernandez, strummed away for the natives inhe introduced to the islands what was later to become Hawaii's first vehicle of musical expression. Called "braginho," the Portuguese name for the four-string instrument, the natives renamed it "ukulele," the Hawaiian reference to the flea suggested by the jumping motion of the hand in strumming. Since then the ukulele and the hula have been inseparable, and it has become the symbol of Hawaii to people all over the world.

Spurred by Mr. Fernandez, who was more of a happy-go-lucky musician, Manuel Nunes made the first commercial ukuleles somewhere on King St. InSamuel K. Kamaka, then a young man, who had returned from his travels on the mainland as a musician, joined with friends in making ukuleles for personal use. Kamaka, 'Uke' Maker, in Business for 35 Years".

Much has been written about the introduction of the ukulele into American culture via Hawaii. The ukulele has become such an essential part of Hawaiian culture that mere mention of the word conjures up images of the Islands.

Kamaka Ukulele has played an important role in reinforcing the strong link between the beloved instrument and Hawaii. The company weathered economic downturns the other original Hawaiian ukulele-makers could not survive, and therefore provided continuity in bringing high-quality Hawaiian ukuleles to the world, ensuring that interest in the instrument would not disappear when times were rough.

If you would like to learn more about the evolution of the "braginho" also called the "braguinha" into the modern ukulele we know and love today, check out "The Ukulele - A Visual History" by Jim Beloff. Uke aficionados and students of pop culture will enjoy the vibrant graphics, the fabulous photography, the interesting trivia and well-researched facts.

Most of the ukuleles featured in the book are from the world-class collection of Chuck Fayne, assembled over the years from Hawaii and the Mainland. See Flea Market Music for more information. The mission of the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum is "to document, preserve and promote the history of the ukulele, its players and makers as well as to inspire and engage people everywhere in the perpetuation of the ukulele and ukulele music through performances and exhibits.

Learn something new about ukulele history by visiting the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum. History Ukulele History. Kamaka, 'Uke' Maker, in Business for 35 Years" Much has been written about the introduction of the ukulele into American culture via Hawaii.Better late than never, just came across this article. Second-generation ukulele makers Fred Kamaka Sr.

The centennial of Kamaka Ukulele is monumental for at least two other reasons. For one, Kamaka is the first Hawaii-based manufacturer of musical instruments to reach the century mark.

It is also one of the few Hawaii-based businesses of any type that has remained a family-owned business for that long. The ukulele was a relatively new instrument in — the first recorded mention of the machete, the Portuguese instrument that evolved into the ukulele, was in The first mention of the ukulele as such was in the s, and it took some time after that to catch on.

However, by the ukulele was tremendously popular in Hawaii and across much of the mainland United States. In Kamaka moved the business out of his basement and into a factory at S.

Kamaka Ukulele Hawaii: A finely-strung family history

King Street. Sixty-three years after that, their sons — Fred Jr. Fred Jr. The concert is the first of the Hawaiian Springs Hawaiian Classics Concert Series that continues through next September, and as an entertainment milestone, it is the biggest. Sam Jr. Chris — who has a parallel career as professional musician and Hoku Awarding-winning recording artist — will be on stage making music with two groups during the evening. A musician brought an instrument for some repair work. Another came in to try out one of the limited edition Kamaka Centennial instruments; the music was beautiful.

Two fans from Japan stopped by to see the place where Kamaka instruments are made. By the time Sam Sr. Fred Sr. We ran the business for over 40 years, we sold everything we made, we were the most popular guys — and our sons are telling us they think they can improve? With that, Sam Jr. Now, years after Sam Sr.

Some of the others run more than twice that. There is a waiting list for everything. Hopefully we can find some place to move to that will work for us. The new designs are introduced in Japan in and worldwide in Wanted to take a moment to thank everyone that checks in on this site. Started a new job in January ofand then our daughter was born last year. Always shocked to see how many people visit everyday still. I still love Kamaka, and play mine as much as possible.

As for now though, the site is as complete as it will get. Jake Shimabukuro completes goal of repairing ukuleles for Hawaii public schools. Below is the headstock that will be on all models. Because of the popularity of the four-stringed instrument, a family-run island business has been around for 99 years.

Everyday, employees of the Kamaka factory shape, sand and meticulously craft more than a dozen ukuleles. But instead of being known for the quantity of instruments it produces, Kamaka is known for its quality.

The same could also be said of the business itself. It has been passed down between generations of Kamakas.Below is the headstock that will be on all models. What I loved most about it were the moments you could see the love and joy Fred has for the instruments, and the history of this fine company. This has shown up on YouTube, wanted to repost it here. A wonderful documentary on Kamaka Ukulele. George Harrison was a huge advocate for the ukulele.

kamaka ukulele history

He loved playing them, and even giving them away. Bonus materials included: Eddie provided a hand written note as well as personal guitar picks and stickers that will accompany the ukulele. YES, this is this same ukulele in the songbook photo that is up for auction here. I got to see and play this while at the NAMM show this year, and it is an amazing instrument! I hope it finds a good home!

Kamaka Ukulele Hawaii: A finely-strung family history

Create a free website or blog at WordPress. Or download it here. Fred Kamaka Sr. George Harrison Posted in History on March 10, by unofficialkamakaukulele George Harrison was a huge advocate for the ukulele. Search for:. Unofficial Kamaka Ukulele Blog. Post to Cancel. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: Cookie Policy.Aug 11, UkuleleUkulele HistoryukulelesUncategorized 2 comments.

The ukulele is most associated with the Hawaiian islands, but do you know its roots can be traced back to another island? Three Portuguese luthiers set up shops to create the instrument. Of the three luthiers, only one, Manuel Nunes, trained apprentices.

kamaka ukulele history

If you get the chance to visit Hawaii, be sure to take a moment to visit one of the many ukulele shops. I learned so much simply by visiting shops and talking to the owners about the ukulele. I learned that Samuel Kamaka is credited with creating the pineapple shaped ukulele and that it has a much more mellow sound than the traditional ukulele. All four have distinct features that make them unique, but they are all hand made here on the islands.

The materials used the make the ukulele can vary from spruce, koa, and mahogany. The instruments are heavier than the typical commercial instrument we might purchase on the mainland.

The Polynesian Cultural Center on the island of Oahu has a beautiful display about the ukulele and how its made called the Ukulele Experience. There you can see the process undertaken to make a ukulele and play many varieties of ukulele. A history of the ukulele would not be complete without mentioning King David Kalakaua, and his role in bringing prominence to the instrument. King Kalakaua ka-LA-ko-ahwas a patron of the arts and had a special affinity for the ukulele.

He often had musicians perform the ukulele at royal events. He encouraged Hawaiians to take up the instrument and played it himself. King David Kalakaua. Want to learn more about the ukulele? Check out these resources:. The Birth of the Ukulele. The Ukulele: A History. Love the Ukulele Started playing 3 years ago. Lohanu is a Canadian ukulele company.

I started a Christian Ukulele Circle at my church. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam.Fred once dreamed of a glittering career, of hitting the big time and striking out a path of his own for him and his family. But fate had other plans. We park up and open the door to the factory shop, which makes a somewhat non-descript impression. A small bell tinkles as the door shuts. Our interlocutor is a young woman, no older than And so we are introduced to Fred, who comes in and stands behind the glass cabinet.

His hands are freckled with liver spots, his hair is a startling white. He wears a short-sleeved, light blue shirt decorated with a floral motif, revealing deeply tanned and slender arms. Well of course he is wearing a Hawaiian shirt — what else could he wear?

The cabinet on which he rests his hands contains his entire family history — carved from wood and carefully strung. The small room offers just a taste of the various shapes and colours of the ukuleles available, and as a stage. Every word is carefully chosen.

Kamaka Ukulele

His eyes gleam with pride through the rims of his spectacles as he recounts his fondest memories and childhood anecdotes. Chinese workers came, along with many Vietnamese and Filipinos. Each embarked upon their own fraught journey across the Pacific to this remote group of islands, bringing their languages, habits and local cuisines with them.

In the beginning, they struggled to communicate with one another so music became a sort of common language, Fred explained.

He plucked thoughtfully at the strings of a Ukulele whilst he spoke, and the instrument itself seemed to have many more stories to tell. Among the early arrivals to the islands were a number of Portuguese farm workers, who brought various traditional instruments with them: violins, mandolins, guitars. Whilst such instruments were well known in Europe, they were unheard-of in far-flung Hawaii. The room grew a little cosier as he spoke.

For a brief moment, we almost felt as though we were part of the family ourselves, such was the intimacy and detail of the narrative. He explained how, over time, the various traditional instruments of the Portuguese were gradually evolved into the smaller form of the ukulele.

These were carefully developed through trial and error: the early shape was a little different, but the sound is largely unchanged. With time, this distinctive sound became synonymous with the islands, instantly evoking the grass skirts and the leis, the sunshine, aquamarine seas and sandy beaches beneath your toes. Disillusionment followed. At first, he encountered little enthusiasm in the US for his island-inspired instruments: the ukulele was mostly dismissed, or treated as a toy. It took some time until interest in the unusual little instrument grew, and then suddenly — in the roaring twenties — this grew into a craze.

Almost overnight, the ukulele became a status symbol for students at the most prestigious colleges. The distinctive sound of the ukulele wove its way into the very fabric of American culture.Entry level?

Kamaka Hawaii ukuleles & Jake Shimabukuro, MUSIC episode

I think for the average person it would be more like 'Holy Grail. Yes to all. I have 3 Kamakas, 2 s models and one modern. It took me awhile to warm up to the new one.

The finish seems a little like an orange peel at first but after about a year it seemed to settle in nicely. Especially on the neck I find you don't get that sticky feeling when moving up and down the fret board like you do with other gloss finishes. It is a super concert so maybe a little different than the soprano, but I found after trying a dozen or so strings that I really prefer the Aquila Lava strings on it.

kamaka ukulele history

They give a more percussive sound, maybe what you mention as Island Tone, I call "Troy Fernandez sound". Spot on review. I recently purchased a very badly damaged Kamaka soprano that's probably from the s.

Then I took it to a trusted luthier and left it there for weeks. They worked miracles and were very excited to work on the beautiful little instrument. Until you hold and play a Kamaka you have no idea what a fine instrument can do.

It feels alive. And the tone is amazing. Uke playing friends are now searching for Kamakas of their own. I even managed to pick up a 70's era Kamaka pineapple that only needed a little bridge repair.

A friend of mine has a recent vintage Kamaka Tenor. I am jealous beyond words. The thing simply sings. Great review - I don't think you can overplay how great these instruments are and completely worth the money.

My first ukulele was a Kamaka. Six-string "Lili'u" model tenor, brand new and direct from the hands of Sam Kamaka. This was inwhen I was at the U. Good grief, my friends said. Are you nuts? Drove it home to Lanikai back then, that was only a beach town, not a ukulele brand in the front basket of my motorbike.