Lovely little soprano C.F.Martin & Co. uke before and after.
Wonderful old German Upright Bass before...
After restoration work completed.
Making a brazilian Rosewood bridge with added string compensation.
Unthinkable nowadays, but at the time adding a pickup through the side of a 1937 D-28 Martin Dreadnought was an upgrade.
Haoles patched, cleated and touched up ready for finish...
A local neighborhood lutherie hero of mine, Les Reitfors. Wonderfully personal, handmade instruments with island pride.
Ready to return to the collection!
A pleasure to meet this old fella! Perhaps the only all Koa, Kamaka tear drop mandolin.
I consider it an honor to be one of the Kamaka families preferred restoration experts.
Several restorateurs had turned this job down, but the emotional appeal of the owner won me over to the cause. The uke had belonged to his father, and he had attempted the repair work as a young boy.
Often clients will have done their best to stabilize damage to keep the instruments functional, here he had glued in balsa wood over the damage...
Aha! Not much left under that balsa wood.
Side cracks are tricky as it is difficult to get clamps in through the sound hole to apply cleats. I often use rare earth magnets to accomplish this task.
Back to good as new!
A replaced back, with the original binding saved and tinted for the warm glow of vintage nitro cellulose.
Another Martin style "0" with some missing top wood.
This is why I never throw anything away, and old top from the right period is an exact match for the stain and patina, a nice cleat inside and its ready to go.
One of the more rare ukes to come in for restoration, a "Radio Tenor" Leonardo Nunes.
Unmistakable charm of a vintage legend.
The back of this uke was badly cracked and missing pieces, my client asked that I replace the entire back. I found a good match of Koa, and made a custom varnish to match the aged patina.
One aspect of my work I enjoy quite a bit is the attempt to make the new, look old. Here is a crackled finish with some typical wear you might find on an old timer like this.
Historic Nunes Soprano Ukulele.
This little guy was in rough shape, but the potential was stunning!
Multiple cracks throughout the top. Non original bridge removed, revealing more damage.
Father and son together again.
The process of cleaning many years of debris begins.
There was early speculation that this might have been the first Hawaiian uke to use a superficial fingerboard.
An inquiry to the side of the neck offered up some curious details. Clearly a second piece of Koa beneath the top fingerboard.
Then I noticed these two very small indentations below the second layer of Koa. Could they be old fret slots?
The real restoration begins. The person that added the fingerboard, likely in the 30s or 40s had scored the top when preparing for glue, this would be a challenge to make disappear.
Overview of the damage.
Lining up the plates in preparation for glueing.
Top cracks repaired with hot hide glue, ready for some french polishing.
These early ukes often had light finish over the fingerboard, These little chipouts are going to disappear.
An antiqued finish to match the rest of the ukulele, which is in surprisingly good condition.
Not quite there, still to new looking. There are many abrasives and tricks to age a new finish, one of the best: Brown paper bags from the grocery store!
Another thing Im happy I saved, an old set of bar frets.
A more correct patina for an old fella like this.
Hand made Ohia replacement keys.
My take on what an original style Nunes bridge would look like at this point.
Strung up in the Hawaiian sun!
These old decals really cant be beat!
With the Ko'olau mountains again!