Just about every major guitar maker has produced a ukulele (often misspelled ukelele) at one time or another. Martin offered three ukulele models to its customers in 1918. The diminutive 12- and 17-fret instruments were followed in the 1920s by concert and tenor models, while the Martin 5-K from 1922, with its koa wood body and abalone inlay, is much in demand among collectors.
Gibson introduced its first ukulele in 1926. The highly collectible Uke-2 and Uke-3 styles from that year had mahogany bodies and rosewood fingerboards. Gibson also made tenor ukuleles (1927) and a baritone model (1961).
Today, ukuleles are experiencing a revival, thanks in no small part to the sustained popularity of the late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole’s ukulele medley of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World,” which has provided the soundtrack for everything from films to TV commercials. Aspiring musicians, with perhaps more good intentions than natural talent, also love them, probably because they are just so darned easy to play.
Not surprisingly, a host of guitar makers have jumped on the uke bandwagon. National makes an entire line of resonator ukuleles, from steel-body models to maple and mahogany ones. Martin and Gibson continue to make ukuleles, as does a well-regarded boutique ukulele maker named Barking Dog.
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Recent News: Ukuleles
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Music festival celebrates the ukuleleKHON2, February 5th
Wade Cambern, Ukulele Picnic in Hawaii spokesperson, says, “The three-day celebration kicks off Friday, February 12, with the 4th Annual Ukulele Museum Benefit Concert at the Hawaii Prince Hotel's Mauna Kea Ballroom. The highlight of the evening ...Read more
The Ely band rocking out on the ukuleleITV News, February 5th
It has long been associated with George Formby, Hawaiian dancers and Vaudeville, but the ukulele is back with a new image. A band called the Rocking Ukuleles of Ely perform rock and pop hits from the 1950s onwards. Band leader John Bassett says it's...Read more
Huge turnout for Morrinsville ukulele groupWaikato Times, February 4th
Ukulele playing is the latest craze in Morrinsville, with more than 50 people turning up for the first meeting of the newly-formed Morrinsville Ukulele group. Group co-ordinator John Howlett said he wasn't expecting so many people to be interested in...Read more
The ukulele "addiction"Longford Leader, February 4th
Though Longford is a small county, it boasts a multitude of talented musicians, not least the members of Longford Ukulele Group, which was founded in October 2014. About five years ago, Sean Mulroy, co-founder of the group, got interested in the ukulele...Read more
Ukulele star Jake Shimabukuro returns to Anchorage after releasing new albumAlaska Dispatch News, February 3rd
As a child, he was exposed to the ukulele at home as well as at school, where classes were required for elementary students. Since then, Shimabukuro has taken the underdog of the strings section to new levels throughout his musical career, creating...Read more
Ukulele classes setZanesville Times Recorder, February 3rd
NEW CONCORD - The New Concord Area Arts and Recreation District will have ukulele classes from 11 a.m. to noon Feb. 13 and 20 in the district's music classroom, 4 Comin St., New Concord. Classes for beginners of all ages to learn the basics of the ...Read more
Music Beat: Memphis Ukulele Band embraces distinctive soundMemphis Commercial Appeal, February 3rd
The Memphis Ukulele Band — a collective of local musicians, including acclaimed singer-songwriters Jason Freeman and Mark Edgar Stuart, Mason Jar Fireflies vocalist Kyndle McMahan, and Grammy-nominated recording engineer Matt Ross-Spang ...Read more
Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra Performs In Escondido TuesdayKPBS, February 2nd
It is tempting to hope that they tiptoed through the tulips to get here. But alas, no. The New Zealand band, the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra is in San Diego Tuesday as part of a 40-city tour across the U.S. The eight-member band will...Read more