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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Ukulele class to be offeredJournal Gazette and Times-Courier, February 9th
MATTOON -- A master class with members of the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra will be offered at 6 p.m. March 1 at the Lone Elm Room of the train depot. The workshop is sponsored by the Mattoon Arts Council, EIU Doudna Fine Arts Center and ...Read more
Ukulele featured at Columbia Board of Education meetingColumbia Daily Tribune (blog), February 9th
Catt Harvey, a junior at Battle High School, accompanied on ukulele by another Battle High School junior, Levi Hagar, on Monday told the Columbia Board of Education about the Darkroom Records CD release party on Feb. 18. Other students joined them for ...Read more
Ukulele lessons strike a chord with U3A groupOldham Chronicle, February 9th
“It's only in its second week but they all seemed to enjoy it and I'm happy to help out,” said Glen, who has also been drafting in students from the school's own ukulele group to help out. Members range in age from 55 to 70 and over: “I think it's...Read more
The DIY Musician: 1917 Film on 'The Making of a Ukulele,' Plus Free DIY Uke PlansGuitar World Magazine, February 8th
Build Your own Homemade Hawaiian Cigar Box Ukulele (Published 1917): In it, S.H. Samuels walks the reader through the basics of constructing a uke, which in 1917 “was made at a cost of 30 cents, by careful selection of materials from the shop scrap stock...Read more
Ukulele players gather in their hundredsOtago Daily Times, February 7th
Pic'n'Mix, of Invercargill, tunes up for its performance at the Lauder Ukulele Festival yesterday. The group comprises (from left) Des Collins (with a hand-made banjolele, a cross between a banjo and a ukulele), Bernadette Ford, Lawrence Livingstone...Read more
The Prettiots: Fun's Cool review – imagine Lena Dunham with a ukuleleThe Guardian, February 6th
“Lena Dunham with a ukulele” might run a crude sales pitch for the debut album of the Prettiots, the New York duo of Kay Kasparhauser and Lulu Prat who set the travails of early twentysomething life to naive folk-pop. Handclaps and harmonies share...Read more
Music festival celebrates the ukuleleKHON2, February 5th
Plans are strumming along for this year's 8th Annual Ukulele Picnic in Hawaii. The three-day event runs from February 12 – 14, with the grand finale taking place Sunday, February 14, at Kaka'ako Makai Gateway Park. The festivities, which celebrate...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