Our Craft

Fred Sr.

Since 1916, Kamaka Hawaii, Inc. has prided itself on producing only ukuleles of the finest quality -- durable, exquisite instruments that improve with age. 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.

GOOD THINGS are made to be used and cherished. GOOD THINGS speak for themselves and increase in value with time. GOOD THINGS reflect the personality and talents of their owner.

At KAMAKA HAWAII, we believe in this philosophy and through manufacturing skill we produce the musical instruments used to create HAWAII'S BEST MUSIC.

From Kamaka Hawaii, Inc. ad in the Honolulu Advertiser, February 19, 1980)

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 love), Malama (to serve and care for), and Pono (doing what's right)."

Kamaka Hawaii, Inc. especially exemplified these values when they first hired disabled employees in 1955, a time when physically-challenged individuals were virtually unemployable because they were viewed as liabilities. When Sam Jr. took over the business after the death of Sam Sr., he learned that good employees were hard to find. His wife, Geraldine, was an ocupational therapist, and she suggested that the company consider employing disabled people. Sam Jr. took her advice and hired two hearing-impaired individuals, paving the way for other disabled workers. 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. In a Honolulu Magazine interview (November 1992), Sam Jr. said: "…we discovered that deaf people can measure the thickness of sound boxes with complete accuracy. They drum their fingers on the wood and feel the vibrations."

On August 31,1999, Kamaka Hawaii held a special celebration to honor the retirement of two of those master craftsmen, Jose Hipolito Jr. and Kenneth McFeeley, both hearing-impaired since birth. 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.

Kamaka Hawaii, Inc.'s malama extends into the community in many ways. For the last 30 years, the company has been a major sponsor of (Roy Sakuma's) Ukulele Festival Hawaii. 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. passed away, Sam Jr. and Fred Sr. felt it was pono for them to continue the family business. 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!