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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CONCERT REVIEW: Who knew a ukulele orchestra even existed?The MIT Tech, January 26th
Performing everything from classical, disco, and contemporary to bluegrass and country, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain had its audience on Friday laughing, swaying, and applauding in sync to the unlikely, diverse sounds it produced. With...Read more
Butch Ross presents Chattanooga Ukulele WeekendNooga.com, January 26th
If you've ever wanted to learn the tiny nylon-stringed, Hawaiian-style guitar, now is your chance. Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Butch Ross will present a two-day clinic for ukulele enthusiasts Feb. 27–28. Chattanooga Ukulele Weekend will take...Read more
The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the UkuleleThe Atlantic, January 25th
With its chunk-a-chunk sound, whispery nylon strings, and diminutive body, the ukulele is having a moment. Or maybe even a decade. Zooey Deschanel strums one while crooning sweetly with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Tony Blair disrupts Labour Party ...Read more
Sunday music picks: Wellington International Ukulele Orchestraaustin360 (blog), January 24th
Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra at the Belmont. Never mind that Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords was one of this New Zealand ensemble's founding members. The magic is simply in their wall-of-ukuleles (plus one standup bass) ...Read more
Gretna Public Library patrons can now check out a ukuleleOmaha World-Herald, January 23rd
Those faraway island shores may seem a bit closer to home with the debut of the Gretna Public Library's ukulele collection. The collection features three brightly colored instruments that can be checked out, as well as songbooks, instructional books...Read more
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain Delights Campbell HallDaily Nexus, January 23rd
Back for a second performance, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain dazzled the Campbell Hall stage on Jan. 20 as part of the UCSB Arts & Lectures winter season. The origins of this orchestra are interesting. Tired of the conventions of the music...Read more
Interview & video: Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra making Oklahoma ...NewsOK.com, January 23rd
After touring its native New Zealand six times, the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra is playing its first United States trek, which includes a show Friday night at Oklahoma City Community College's Visual and Performing Arts Center. Photo...Read more
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain: A delightThe Desert Sun, January 22nd
“The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, it's just a delightful thing,” Gershenfeld said when he announced his five picks. “There's a lot of humor in what they do but, what's interesting is it was kind of the first one of these groups. So I guess this...Read more