Tiki King's Ukulele Database:


Jonah Kumalae was an ivory carver turned Ukulele Maker. He won an award at the Panama Pacific Exposition of l915 for design. He went on to become the most prolific builders of Ukuleles in the Islands. He built until about l930-40. He was most famous for making Ukes for other manufacturers and dealers. His Ukes are well built and he used very good wood. He made a quality instrument for a reasonable price. It is said that at the height of his business, he was making 300 Ukuleles a month. The Kumalae company went out of business around 1940 when Johna Kumalae died.

Kumalae ukulele styles and dates:

style "0": plain, no inlays except one thin ring around soundhole.
style 1 (or A): plain, no inlays except three thin rings around soundhole, penciled serial# inside with the letter "a"
style 2 (or B): rope inlay around soundhole, serial# with the letter "b"
style 3 (or C): rope inlay around soundhole and rope binding on the body, serial# with the letter "c"
style 4 (or D): rope inlay around soundhole and rope binding on the body and center of fretboard, serial# with a "d"
style 5 (or E): binding around soundhole, body, up center and edges of fretboard, serial# with the letter "e"

Establishing the date can be dificult, but here are some guides.
It is uncertain when Jonah made his first Ukulele, but it is accepted that he started the ukulele company in 1911
"PPIE gold award" means it was made after 1915.
If the sound hole label lists the address as "1719 Liliha st" then it can be assumed to be made before 1922, as that was when the factory there was destroyed by a fire, after which he moved the business to his home at the corner of Isenberg and South King Street.

Around 2011, The Kumalae name was purchased by the Welkin Sound Co. who introduced a line of Chinese built ukuleles bearing the Kumalae name and crest. These new Kumalae Ukuleles have no relationship to the original Kumalae Co. other than the name.

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