View Full Version : Bought a kook-a-la-le!

02-25-2015, 02:52 AM
I happened by my neighborhood string shop yesterday for a couple of uke repairs and they had this swingin' kook-a-la-le hanging on the wall. 76555 They were anxious to get rid of it and cut me a great deal!

These, along with their cousins the Treholipee and Surf-a-lay-le, were made by Swagerty in the 1960s--read more at http://ukulelehunt.com/buy-ukulele/brands/swagerty-ukulele/.

Surprisingly, this novelty instrument plays very well! It's strung and tuned to standard gCEA. It has a plastic fretboard (with integral molded frets) and action/intonation are good. Neck is very thick. It's an oddity in terms of scale length: at 18.25", it's longer that a tenor but shorter than a baritone.

No idea specifically what (nylon) strings are on there right now, but one thing I did notice is the tension seems high. I'm thinking that a baritone gCEA re-entrant set will be the way to go to lower the tension and relieve some of the pressure on the tie-offs below the bridge, which I can see is starting to lift from age and tension.

Patrick Madsen
02-25-2015, 06:53 AM
Swagerty was from San Clemente, Ca. His idea was you could serenade your wahine then use the tip to stick it in the sand and go surfing. The nice thing was you could see how far you drifted in the surf by looking for the upside down Treholipee. It was a crazy time then.

02-25-2015, 08:03 AM
Wow'sa that is one funky looking instrument. Kind of looks like it should be in the shamisen family.

02-25-2015, 10:33 AM
Hey, I'm old enough to actually remember when those were the latest thing. Great find, and enjoy the heck out of it!

02-25-2015, 10:48 AM
Very cool. Glad you found one!

02-25-2015, 10:52 AM
Enjoy! Looks very exotic.

02-26-2015, 03:01 AM
I tried it out at our monthly uke group meetup and it worked great. Plenty of volume, fairly bright sound--and the whole group enjoyed passing it around to try a strum.

I just ordered a set of Aquila AQ-23 baritone gCEA re-entrant strings to swap in; should be here on Monday. That should relieve tension on the tie-offs.

02-26-2015, 03:34 AM
That is so cool looking. It is like a mix of shamisen (as mentioned above) and googie design. What a great find!

02-28-2015, 05:50 PM
I used a set of Worth Brown strings. They come in double length 46". This gives you more than enough length to reach from the tuner to the anchor hole on the 2nd string.