A visit to Kamaka and an original from Kalei Gamiao

In the past few years I have gotten to know Fred Jr, Casey, and Chris Kamaka, at least a bit, from the few occasions I have gotten to talk with them. I have seen Chris play upright bass and sing a few times and was really impressed with his musicality. Chris quality controls every ukulele that goes out from Kamaka. He is there every day making sure Kamaka’s look and sound just right. Casey I had met over 10 years ago at a Guild of American Luthiers convention (guitar building seminar and workshop). Casey does the custom shop work for Kamaka, and is truly a master luthier. His work can be seen and heard in this video. Fred Jr. runs the business side of Kamaka. He is who I deal with for the store, so luckily he is a fun and friendly guy. In fact all three brothers truly have aloha and it shows in the quality of their product.
Kamaka is the original Hawaiian ukulele company, and their legacy is no accident. They have been putting out professional instruments for nearly a century and I have no doubt that they will continue to do so for many generations to come. Kamaka is so popular we sometimes need to remind people to consider other local makers. But each maker in the top-level of ukulele making has their own sound and feel. A Kamaka is a sound people will always love. Personally, I really like their concert. That is my favorite size from them, but each player will say something different. If you have a vintage Kamaka or a gold label one you should try the new Kamaka. Sure the wood is not aged and finish worn off, but the feel of the neck and the consistency in tone has never been better.

Enjoy Kalei, he will be giving more lessons for you soon. This is an original composition of his called “running with the wind”. You can almost envision yourself running with the wind when you hear the joy and energy in this tune. Kalei is my favorite. Aloha, and thanks for watching and reading.

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