The Story of the Kamaka 'Ukulele

Kamaka 'Ukulele (Part 1)

Being a store that carries a variety of ‘ukulele, it seems only fitting to have a short series on some of the top and most notable ‘ukulele companies in the world. It also seems fitting to begin this short series with the oldest and most prestigious ‘ukulele company, Kamaka.

The Story of Kamaka

Kamaka was founded by Sam Kaiali’ili’i Kamaka in 1916. Kamaka began as a guitar and ‘ukulele company, but became more specialized in the ‘ukulele as the instrument grew in popularity during the 1920’s and 30s. In 1953, Sam Kamaka’s son, Samuel Jr. took over the business and today, the company is run by Fred Kamaka Jr. and Chris Kamaka. The Kamaka ‘ukulele is considered one of the best ‘ukulele in the world, being used by several famous performers including George Harrison, Jake Shimabukuro, and Taimane Gardner. 

Kamaka as a company is responsible for many innovations to the instrument and how the instrument has been constructed over time. In 1955 for example, Kamaka broke new ground by hiring disabled employees during a time when this was not a general practice. They hired hearing-impaired craftsmen who were able to determine the quality of an ‘ukulele just by feeling the wood, a skill that became increasingly important as the factory noise made it difficult to determine quality by sound. Kamaka is also responsible for inventing popular ‘ukulele shapes such as the cigar box ‘ukulele and the pineapple ‘ukulele, shapes that have since become mainstay variations to the traditional figure-eight shape. Today, Kamaka continues to produce high quality classic ‘ukulele as well as intricate deluxe models. 

If you are looking for an ‘ukulele that speaks directly to the lineage of the instrument and provides the most authentic sound, look no further than Kamaka. If you have any questions about Kamaka ‘ukulele (or any ‘ukulele for that matter), let us know!

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