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Doc_J
07-04-2015, 05:41 AM
On this rainy American Independence Day, I was wondering if the tenor uke could be considered as an American evolution of the standard Hawaiian uke? This led to the more basic question of who made the first tenor ukulele?

From the references at my disposal (Tranquada & King, Walsh & King) there are some documented tenor uke firsts. The earliest reference states Lyon & Healy introduced a tenor uke in 1923. Leonardo Nunes is listed as introducing his Radio Tenor in 1925. Martin and Harmony introduced their first tenor ukes in 1928. Also, at that time there was a different standard for concert and tenor scale sizes. Concerts were listed as 13.75 to 15.5 inches, tenors were listed as 14.5 to 15.75 inches by the Standards a Committee of the National Association of Musical Instrument and Accessories Manufacturers. (As a sidenote, Sopranos were listed as 13 to 13.75 inches. ). Not everyone followed the standards but those that did would receive the Association's "seal of approval" .

Since these citations are all from larger production builders, I wonder if there are earlier smaller builders of tenor ukes. Anyone know of any?

Kevdog
07-04-2015, 05:56 AM
[QUOTE=Doc_J;1718141]On this rainy American Independence Day, I was wondering if the tenor uke could be considered as an American evolution of the standard Hawaiian uke? This led to the more basic question of who made the first tenor ukulele?

I believe it was Samuel Tenor in 1776. He had a music shop next to Paul Revere's jewelry store in Boston.....

Happy 4th of July Doc!

sonomajazz
07-04-2015, 12:01 PM
Rainy...? What's a rainy??

(Tough to get a straight answer out of this crowd, Doc...)

Hope your havin' a great 4th...

k0k0peli
07-04-2015, 12:05 PM
I believe it was Samuel Tenor in 1776. He had a music shop next to Paul Revere's jewelry store in Boston..... And just down the road from Benjamin & Jeremiah's frozen confection stand. But I digress.

Martin introduced their Tiple (TIH-pul, adapted from the Latino TEE-play) in 1919. My 10-string Tiple is quite the same size as my Three Tenors: Alvarez 4-string, Kala 6-string, and O.Schmidt 8-string. All are tuned GCEA (in various unison and octave variants). I *suspect* that the first tenor was somebody stripping-down a Tiple to just 4 strings.

Doc_J
07-04-2015, 01:57 PM
The ukulele was definitely around before Hawaii became US territory. Tranquada and King point out references in 1893 Honolulu newspaper clippings that describe differences between the 4-string "ukalele" and the 5-string, little larger, "taro patch" fiddle. The taro patch was most likely the rajao (tuned re-entrant DGCEA). So one might postulate the first tenor/concert uke could have been a rajao with the first string left out. But, I'm not sure that was sequence of events that led to the tenor uke. The uke did later " borrow " the re-entrant GCEA from the rajao. The original Nunes ukulele tuning was from the machete, DGBD.

An 1885 J.J. Williams photograph shows a guitar, a ukulele, and a taro patch together being used to play Hawaiian music.
http://archives1.dags.hawaii.gov/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=509
81256

ukulelekarcsi
07-05-2015, 08:41 PM
It's a double answer.

- Martin was probably the first to have a four-string tenor-sized ukulele (so not a taropatch or tiple) on offer (although there could have been earlier hawaiian makers) - that's 1916 for you.
- But Lyon and healy was indeed the first to apply 'orchestra voicing' names to their ukulele sizes, with the tenor in 1923. Martin tried to resist with a 'dedicated venue' terminology with the concert ukulele in 1925, but then caved in and went along with tenor, soprano, and baritone designations. No alto ukuleles however, and no parlour or auditorium ukuleles either.

kypfer
07-05-2015, 09:28 PM
Doc_J wrote :
An 1885 J.J. Williams photograph shows a guitar, a ukulele, and a taro patch together being used to play Hawaiian music.
http://archives1.dags.hawaii.gov/gal...?g2_itemId=509


Ha !! The guitar still has the price-tag on the headstock !!

Tigershark
07-07-2015, 08:52 AM
This is a tough question, because it depends how you define "tenor ukulele". The Washburn tenors are much closer to what we consider concert size today.

Martin also made 4 string taropatch ukuleles (essentially concert ukes) for Ditson as early as 1916.

Griffis
06-15-2016, 04:35 AM
And just down the road from Benjamin & Jeremiah's frozen confection stand. But I digress.

LOL!


I *suspect* that the first tenor was somebody stripping-down a Tiple to just 4 strings.

Interesting theory. I could definitely see this being the case.


- Martin was probably the first to have a four-string tenor-sized ukulele (so not a taropatch or tiple) on offer (although there could have been earlier hawaiian makers) - that's 1916 for you.
- But Lyon and healy was indeed the first to apply 'orchestra voicing' names to their ukulele sizes, with the tenor in 1923. Martin tried to resist with a 'dedicated venue' terminology with the concert ukulele in 1925, but then caved in and went along with tenor, soprano, and baritone designations.

Good stuff! Good info.


No alto ukuleles however, and no parlour or auditorium ukuleles either.

Helloooo small business idea!

I know I am resurrecting an older thread, but I was poking around trying to find info on the origins of the tenor uke and the search brought me here.

(People whose opinions I respect keep telling me I *need* a tenor...)

As far as I can tell (to go off on a tangent) and according to someone else's research efforts, the first mention of the baritone uke found so far dates it back to 1948. I wonder if there were similar instruments around before then?

I've seen a clip of The Cats & The Fiddle, sort of a precursor group to later doo wop. Cool swing group with strings...remind me of the Mills Bros. Anyway, this clip is from 1937 I believe. Haven't studied it closely, but one cat is clearly playing a tiple, another is on string bass, one fella is obviously playing a tenor guitar, but the last member is playing what, to me, looks to be the size of a baritone uke. However, it may just be a tenor guitar. As I say, I haven't really watched it closely.

What the heck, here's the clip. Killer song too, IMO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEQ9Sz0UCl8

It probably is a tenor guitar; it's just so much smaller than the more "jazz guitar" size of the other tenor player...

ukulelekarcsi
06-15-2016, 06:44 AM
I wonder if there were similar instruments around before then?

Tiki King, Humble Uker and others have delved into baritone history a lot. There was a method for 'guitar-uke' and 'uke-i-tar' published in 1923, but nobody really knows what those instruments actually were (six strings and uke-sized? or four strings and guitar-sized? or a rebranding of a common parlour guitar or tenor guitar?). Herk Favilla published a 'Baritone ukulele method' in 1949, but sold instruments by that name probably a year earlier. It is claimed he got the idea of his father, who built unnamed custom models of that size in the late 1940s. Eddie Connors is claimed to be 'the original designer of the baritone ukulele' in a 1950 Vega advert. And Arthur Godfrey introduced the model in his 1960 show, although both camps (Vega and Favilla) he actually played their baritone model.