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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MUSIC: Vancouver ukulele showman Ralph Shaw at Mount Baker Theatre's ...Bellingham Herald, April 23rd
Shaw performs at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 25, at Mount Baker Theatre's Encore Room, 104 N. Commercial St., hosted by Bellingham Ukulele Group. Whether he's singing about a village vicar or a brothel handyman, or embodying an evil cat, his hilarious and ...Read more
OU student becomes famous on campus for ukuleleOklahoma Daily, April 22nd
John Milligan hugged his ukulele to him, hiding the signatures of the band members of 'Walk Off the Earth' scrawled on the back. Stepping onto his longboard, he began strumming a chord and humming. “When it's sunny I like to just ride around playing...Read more
Ukulele, pahu now official state musical instrumentsKITV Honolulu, April 20th
It's thanks to the Portuguese and Manuel Nunes whose gravestone gives him credit for bringing the ukulele to the islands. But now it's the official “modern” instrument for the state. When lawmakers first proposed the idea of an official instrument last...Read more
Big Ukulele Gathering in Los Angeles Fails to Break RecordTIME, April 19th
More than 1,100 ukulele players gathered in Los Angeles to play in what they hoped would be the world's largest ever ukulele ensemble. But despite the fun atmosphere as they strummed along to the Ukulele standard “Pua i Ka Ua,” the Los Angeles Times ...Read more
Better pluck next time: Ukulele ensemble in LA again falls short of recordLos Angeles Times, April 18th
Displaying screamingly loud Hawaiian shirts, the occasional neon-hued lei and inspiring pluck, more than 1,000 ukulele players on Saturday swarmed the plaza in front of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in downtown Los Angeles...Read more
Speaking truth to power is the way to go. Using a ukulele to do it isn'tThe Guardian, April 17th
Ukuleles are one of the external signifiers of The New Twee, a cosy fashion cult that's forgotten whether it's being ironic or not. Ukes are lightweight four-stringed bantam guitars that are easy to play, colourful to look at and small enough to slip...Read more
Ukulele lovers seek world record in LaLa landLos Angeles Times, April 16th
The first Los Angeles attempt, last year, fell well-shy of breaking the 2013 record of 2,135 ukulele players held by Yokohama, Japan. The 2014 record-holder, with 2,370 musicians, is Hampshire, England. "We're hoping to bring [the record] to L.A. and...Read more
Ukulele Orchestra Tries To Break RecordNPR, April 14th
Over the weekend, 4,750 ukulele players traveled from all over French Polynesia to Tahiti to play "Bora Bora E." The attempt is being verified to see if the record was broken. RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. And what we're ...Read more