‘Ukulele Chord Shapes eBook
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Kumalae Soprano ‘Ukulele

One of my Grandma’s friends who knows how much I love the ‘ukulele, gave me a Kumalae soprano a few weeks ago. It used to be her mother-in-law’s, and was purchased in the 30s. For being at least 70-80 years old, it is in wonderful shape – and it sounds awesome. I did what little research I could on The Kumalae brand. I couldn’t find much more than that Jonah Kumalae took some of his ‘ukuleles to the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco. While there, his instruments won a “Gold Award”. The ‘ukuleles he made after that bore “Kumalae Gold Award PPIE 1915, Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka ‘Aina I Ka Pono, Hawaii” on the headstock.

Kumalae Soprano 'Ukulele

Kumalae Soprano 'Ukulele Back View

Kumalae Gold Award Headstock

The Soundboard is in good shape!

I was amazed that the bridge hadn’t pulled the soundboard in more. Usually after time the soundboard starts to sag – not here.

There are only minor issues

There are only a few little “issues”

Kumalae Inlayed Rosette

There is some pencil writing on the inside, but it could be one of five different things.

Kumalae and Kamaka

It’s weird to hold two instruments that span 70+ years.

Meet The Author:

Brad Bordessa

Brad plays 'ukulele on the Big Island of Hawai'i. He writes original music, performs, and hunts unicorns - all with only an 'ukulele.

6 comments… add one
  • dnewton2 Jun 13, 2009, 10:19 am

    What a score. Looks very nice for its age. I would love to get my hands on something like that one day.

  • Hippie Guy Jun 13, 2009, 10:50 am

    Something will turn up for you. I am always amazed to hear how many people have grandpa’s ‘ukulele sitting in the attic. It was so nice of her to give it to me. To everyone else it’s just kind of “one of those things”, but for us it’s something to drool over…

    Did you get the CD?

    ~Hippie Guy

  • dnewton2 Jun 13, 2009, 5:35 pm

    Yeah I got the CD about a week ago. Thanks agian. I never really lisented to that much Jake until his Live album came out. I saw him the other night and just seeing him play is quite an experience. Love the CD of covers. I am trying to grt my hands on some of that Pure Heart I have heard so much about.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Cathy Jun 21, 2009, 6:01 pm

    I was given a ukelele back in 1970 by an old neighbor of my grandmother’s. I was just a kid, but I have kept that thing all these years. There is a Jonah Kumalae label inside with a phone # and 1719 Lilihana address, but there is no award symbol on the headstock. It is pretty small (looks smaller than the one you have pictured). It is in mint condition…no cracks, no sagging. Not sure if it really is a Kumalae but I just love it…wish I knew how to play better! Thanks for sharing yours!

  • Jim Fawcett Mar 19, 2014, 9:35 pm

    I recently acquired a Kumalae from the 20’s. It looks completely original, Koa made. It does not show the headstamp reflecting his 1915 Gold Award, however. It just has the Hawaiian stamp. Could this one be older than 1915? I am curious.

    • Brad Bordessa Mar 20, 2014, 7:48 am

      I’m not too sure about Kumalae ‘ukuleles. But you will find a bunch of people over at Ukuleleunderground.com who could probably tell you more than you need to know.

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