Ukulele Manufacturing News from 1916

The following report appeared in The Musical Trade Review in 1916.

At the end of August,  1915, manufacturers of ukuleles in the Hawaiian Islands were turning out 500 or 600 instruments per month. At the end of August, 1916, the output was extended to 1,600 per month, with demands from mainland music dealers which could not be met.

There are eight principal manufacturers of ukuleles in Honolulu, with a scattering of instruments coming from small makers in the other islands. Each manufacterer has turned his small workshop into a factory, adding new workers and increasing the plant as rapidly as possible. In the first week of September a company was organised in Honolulu with plans to manufacture from 1,000 to 2,000 ukuleles per month with improved machinery, the workers to be Hawiians and Portuguese. This company plans not only the manufacture of ukuleles, but also to purchase completed material from other makers.

The originator of the ukulele, a Portuguese, who is now head of a manufacturing company, is still an active worker in his own factory, and turns out about 700 instruments per month. Another Honolulu firm produces about 400 per month.

The Hawiians and Portuguese of Hawaii claim that the instruments made by them, principally of koa wood, are seasoned and properly prepared. The prevailing local prices for ukuleles range from $3.75 to $16 and $20.  The highest-priced products are heavily beaded. The tone is of the most important items in the construction of the ukulele, and the Hawaiians and Portuguese claim that this is obtained only with the use of properly seasoned koa wood and proper attention paid to shaving the wood and fitting it.  The plans of the new companies forming, and of old factories being enlarged, will give an output close to 3,000 per month.

Passage reproduced courtesy of The International Arcade Museum and the Musical Box Society International.

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Published in: on October 8, 2009 at 6:51 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] Effinger was not far wrong. There was a shortage of Hawaiian ukuleles in 1916. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. Published […]


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