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Roy Smeck Concert Ukulele

Original Post By: L'uke Date: 2/16/2018 9:43:22 PM
Hello everyone, I am new here and this is my first time posting a question, so I hope that I am posting in the right place.

I have bought a vintage ukulele that I would like to find out more about.
It is a soprano with wooden tuning pegs.
The decal on the head stock has an Hawaiian crest with the words "Aloha Hawaii".
I am certain it is all Koa including the bridge and the nut.
It came with a Geib case with "A.E.H Hawaii" embossed in small lettering on the top of the case.
on the back of the head stock there is some faded printing, it is hard to read - seems to say "Genuine Koa" and then on a diagonal beneath that "Hawiian Hardwood

if someone can help me to work out how to post a few photo's I would be grateful.

Any information would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
Posted By: L'uke Date: 2/16/2018 9:44:19 PM
Posted By: karl Date: 2/17/2018 9:31:26 AM   (Updated: 2/17/2018 9:32:22 AM)
Congratulations, it sounds like a good one!

There's lots of info on Aloha (manufacturor and brand) on Lardy's database: http://database.ukulelecorner.co.uk/abc/aloha-mfct

He also warns not to confuse them with several other modern builds that use the rather generic name as a brand.

"This was one of the big original Hawaiian makers of mass produced Ukuleles. They were in business from 1918 to 1935. They were the first ones who put the Aloha with the Hawaiian royal crest on the headstock of Ukuleles. They sometimes put a K' in front to make K'Aloha and a lot of them had the Akai embossed in the sound hole too, (Tai Chong Goo who was the head luthier and worked under the pseudonym Akai). When the company folded, Tai continued making Ukuleles on his own under the name Akai Ukulele & Curio Company; he died in Honolulu in 1968."

Australian actress and singer Stella Lamond used Aloha ukuleles on stage to great effect, and one of her instruments is now on display in Sydney's Powerhouse Museum: https://reyalpeleluku.wordpress.com/tag/aloha-hawaii-akai/
Posted By: L'uke Date: 2/17/2018 6:11:42 PM
Thanks Karl, great info and links, I will go and do some reading. really wrapped to get such a quick and helpful reply.
Posted By: L'uke Date: 2/17/2018 6:33:17 PM
Thanks again Karl, The uke you linked to on Lardy's database is very similar to the ukulele I am asking about.
It has same headstock shape and single ring around the sound hole, same body shape, even the Koa colour looks quite similar. the only striking differences that I can see are that my uke has a smaller decal on head stock with a slightly different design. And also the uke I have has wooden peg tuners.
Other than that, when I look at that picture on Lardy's database along side my recent purchase, I can say that they look very similar, almost identical aside from slight differences in the head stock.

Really appreciate the help and info
Posted By: L'uke Date: 2/17/2018 9:19:37 PM
I have been searching google images for any vintage uke with a headstock decal that matches exactly the decal on the one I have, and I found this one (see link).
It says that the uke on that webpage was made in japan in the 30s. I am not convinced that mine was and I still feel this was made in Hawaii.
On the case there are some initials and the word Hawaii and I just feel that the case has always been with the uke. The person I bought it off said its been in a climate controlled warehouse for the past 30 plus years.

It looks so similar to the uke on Lardy's database, but the decal makes me wonder.

Posted By: karl Date: 2/19/2018 2:05:23 AM   (Updated: 2/19/2018 8:51:45 AM)
That Japanese Aloha looks very different to me, and I would probably date that to the 1950s or 1960s: mahogany instead of koa, a more voluminous soundbox, a very different heel, very different rosette, raised fretboard... In fact, only the headstock decal and the 'Aloha' name are similar.

Which makes it one of the 'other' more modern Alohas, mentioned above...
Posted By: L'uke Date: 2/19/2018 5:23:06 AM
Yes Karl, I see what you are saying and I totally agree. As my newly purchased vintage ukulele appears almost identical to the one that you linked me to on Lardy's database I start to get the feeling that the identical headstock decal/sticker may have been sold to different companies at some stage!?
but still feel that the uke I have here is of Hawian make and origin. its definatley Hawaiian Koa (in my opinion and it say so on the back of the headstock ) and it light as a feather.
I am hoping and feeling that your original Akai suggestion is closer to the mark.

Posted By: L'uke Date: 2/19/2018 5:46:24 AM
It's not as perfectly centre balanced like my Kumalae is and has a slightly longer scale length too. wider and flatter neck than the Kumalae also
Posted By: J Boy Shyne Date: 2/19/2018 5:31:06 PM
L'uke, to post pics you need to setup a photo account. I use photobucket. http://photobucket.com/ Then you upload the pics and supply us with the link. You could also use one of the free storage sites, like Onedrive, Google Drive, etc. Upload the pics as .jpg files and supply the link.

Perhaps just email them to karl. Click his name to get his email. Or email them to me and I'll put them on my photobucket acct.

Not sure how the uke world works, but in the guitar world, in the 1960s and 1970s, lots of guitars with USA names (Gibson, Fender, Rickenbacker, etc.) were showing up of rather inferior quality. Despite having all the labels they were actually fake bootlegged axes made in Japan. So, that can be the story with your uke and case. Incidentally, these Japanese axes have no value. As such, no one would pay $495 for that Japanese uke on that Picker's supply site. Jeez, that's what Gibsons go for.
Posted By: L'uke Date: 2/20/2018 3:05:43 AM
Posted By: L'uke Date: 2/20/2018 3:55:37 AM
I got a bit frustrated with photobucket so I ended up emailing pics to Karl.

Thanks all.
Posted By: J Boy Shyne Date: 2/20/2018 7:59:29 AM   (Updated: 2/20/2018 8:16:01 AM)
Here's the pic you posted on photobucket.

If the link doesn't work, I uploaded it to http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f6/jboyshyne/20180217_130357_zpsosm9r1es.jpg
Posted By: J Boy Shyne Date: 2/20/2018 8:40:03 AM   (Updated: 2/20/2018 8:45:49 AM)
Googling around a bit, I found the following pics of a koa uke made by Aloha Ukulele Manufacturing Company. http://hmi.homewood.net/ukulele/index.html

The site contains 6 detailed pics. L'uke, from the poor quality pic you supplied, your uke doesn't look like the one on the Homewood site. Oh, note how it's only going for $199 and not that ridiculous amount Picker's Supply is seeking for that Japanese uke.
Posted By: J Boy Shyne Date: 2/20/2018 9:17:59 AM
Another uke by Aloha Uke Mfg Co. https://reyalpeleluku.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/a-ukulele-by-aloha-ukulele-manufacturing-co/

The label looks painted on. Again googling around a bit, I read a discussion on UU how stick on Aloha Uke decals were sold in stores in the 1960s. L'uke, is your label painted or stuck on?
Posted By: L'uke Date: 2/20/2018 4:36:42 PM

It looks to be a sticker.

I am still not operating photobucket correctly. sorry about that.
Posted By: L'uke Date: 2/20/2018 8:57:55 PM

Trying to use photobucket on my lunch break. Soo many adds and pop ups makes it unbearable.
I will have a other go later when I am at my desktop.
Posted By: L'uke Date: 2/21/2018 1:25:22 AM
I still don't know if this will work....

This is the back of the headstock

Posted By: L'uke Date: 2/21/2018 2:59:21 AM
Many thanks go to Karl for replying to the email I sent him with photo's
it's an 'Aloha' and not a knock off.
I am very pleased. And thanks J Boy also.

Any other info anybody has on this brand is interesting to me, but I guess that info I can do some research of my own. That being said I appreciate any info and input.

I don't interact in forums very often at all, so thanks for helping make it positive.
Posted By: J Boy Shyne Date: 2/21/2018 9:45:32 AM
Here's a link to the pics L'ukes uploaded: http://s58.photobucket.com/user/barryblaablaa/library/
Posted By: L'uke Date: 2/21/2018 5:26:42 PM
Thanks for putting th photo's up J_Boy.
Posted By: L'uke Date: 2/22/2018 6:15:15 AM
New thought. Well not new but new question....
Any thoughts on the insignia on the case ?
is it an 'A' or a 'Q', could they be the initials of a person, hotel, cruse liner ? the person I bought it from said the following...

"I am thrilled you are pleased with the Ukulele. I bought 2 mini storage units packed with collectibles from an Air Force friend of mine in Phoenix, AZ about 12 years ago. Thousands of books and hundreds of collectible items. It took me 3 years to get it all back here in Louisiana, and this Ukulele was in the last load. He travelled and collected items mostly at estate and garage sales for 40 years. His memory is that he bought it at a garage sale in Mesa, AZ, just outside of Phoenix. It has always been stored in a climate control warehouse. I wish I had more to tell you but that is the story I have."

So that's all I have to go on. but I am intrigued by provenance and the insignia on the case may yet hold some clues.

It is almost staying in tune for me and I am enjoying the playing and the having and holding of a beautiful piece of history.
Posted By: Ukulele Rob Date: 3/22/2018 12:05:48 AM
Anyone here (thinking maybe JBoy) know the time period when Hawaiian-made ukes featured the "Tabu Made in Hawaii" trademark stamp? I know that the Honolulu Advertising Club registered it in 1916 to distinguish Hawaiian-made instruments and that makers like M. Nunes stamped it in or on their instruments (see Tranquada and King, "Ukulele: A History," University of Hawai'i Press 2012), but I've never seen a reference to when it may have been discontinued. If this Aloha has that stamp anywhere (with the crescent and crossed kapu sticks) it may be the genuine article. But I know others here have far more expertise.
Posted By: karl Date: 3/22/2018 3:38:36 AM
Lardy says its use died out around 1925, but not abruptly, simply because the copying itself had stopped - mainland manufacturers had found their own styles, and didn't need to pass off their products as these hour-glass shaped, exotically named, full koa island built instruments with decals of the hawaiian royal crest. I would have to ask Lardy about the source for that, though.

Oddly enough, not all Hawaii-based builders used that 'appellation d'origine controlée' trademark (in wine speak), and I also heard that Kumalae used it on some of his California built ukuleles with the argument that he was an orginal Hawaiian no matter where he went!

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Flea Market Music offers an on-line community for ukulele players, informative books on the ukulele, ukulele CDs,songbooks, videos and information on our instrument manufacturing of the FLUKE ukulele. Brought to you by "Jumpin" Jim Beloff. -