In the early 1910s Samuel Kaiali’ili’i Kamaka began building ‘ukuleles as an apprentice to Manuel Nunes. In 1916 he started his own ‘ukulele building business. His workshop was in his basement, where he would turn out a dozen ‘ukuleles a week and sell them for $5 a piece. In 1921 he moved to a bigger workshop where he created the first pineapple ‘ukulele.
Kamaka continued making his fine instruments and introduced his two sons Samuel Jr. and Frederick to the art while they were still in elementary school. In 1952 Samuel Sr. became ill, going into semi-retirement. He died a year later. Sam Jr. and Frederick then took over the business and five years later moved to Kamaka Hawaii’s current location. Now into their 80s Sam Jr. and Fred have passed the company on to their sons who are still making fine Kamaka ‘ukuleles.