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Oldest Ukulele Factory Offers Free Tour

June 30, 2009 By: Meagan Drillinger


Hawaii's oldest ukulele factory, the Kamaka Hawaii, is offering free tours to those who want to see these handmade instruments, which sell for at least $650 each, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The 5,000-square-foot factory, built in 1916 by Sam Kamaka, Sr., is operated by his sons, brothers Fred Kamaka, Sr. and Sam Kamaka, Jr. The tour takes guests through the back to see the drying stacks of famous Hawaiian koa wood, then brings them upstairs where the wood is shaped.

Every year the company's 30 employees produce 3,500 to 4,000 instruments. "Everything we're making has already been sold," Fred Kamaka Jr. told the Los Angeles Times. "We're normally back-ordered about a month-and-a-half."

The brothers intend to keep the business in the family and will pass it on to three of their sons. There are 12 grandchildren as well, one of whom is already working for them. At the moment, the Kamakas are keeping their eyes out for a larger space. "We're still looking," says Fred Kamaka Jr. 'We're not sure, the way the economy is, whether we want to be involved in a big move right now. But we do want a larger place, and we do want to have tours."

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