View Full Version : 'Howard' branded Uke... anyone know anything?!

08-30-2015, 08:38 AM
hi everyone.

first things first.. new member, first time post so thanks for having me!

I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on this?

I'm primarily keyboards so no idea at all on this. It seems 'old', has a plastic fingerboard, is branded 'Howard' and has 'JAPAN' carved in the back of the headstock.

What I'd really like to know is roughly the age, who 'Howard' were and if its worth anything (my three year old daughter has been eying it up so thought I aught to check!). If its a 'toy' she can have it, if its a reasonable instrument.. ahem.. its mine. :) It certainly sounds okay to me giving it a quick strum.

Have tried google but could only get so far. Seems the brand may may start with a guitar maker named Eugene Howard, thereafter becoming a Wurlitzer sub-brand, and there seems to be evidence that at least some of these were made in Japan. But I could well have joined all the wrong dots.

Any one have one/seen one? Anyone know anything about it/ Howard ukes they could share with me?

thanks all!

08-30-2015, 09:33 AM
Do the tuners look like these?


If so, it was made by Harmony in Chicago, 1950's or earliest 1960's. Harmony produced loads of ukes of this type under their own name and as contract jobs under a variety of brand names (including Silvertone for Sears and Airline for Monkey Wards). Beginning in the mid-1960's Harmony production started shifting to Japan, but I think this is US-made. The body is likely made from solid birch. I'm not familiar with the name Howard, but I don't think it adds any value in rarity category. Yours looks to be in good condition; on a good day you might get $50 or $75 for it.

08-30-2015, 09:59 AM
That's excellent - thanks so much for the response! the tuners are oval so not a great deal like the ones you posted, could it still be a Harmony? I had seen that Harmony had gone down the plastic fretboard route but was thrown by the whole 'howard' thing..

08-30-2015, 10:07 AM
It's possible the tuners were replaced at some point; the Harmony "sharktooth" tuners were very effective for a simple design, but the plastic tended to get brittle and break.

I'd be VERY surprised if this wasn't a Harmony Chicago build. The molded plastic fretboards invariably point to Harmony, and they made SO many ukes under SO many names. And any later, MIJ Harmonys I've ever seen have the bridge attached with screws, rather than glued on.

So - are you going to let your little girl play it?

08-30-2015, 10:15 AM
ha its a good question! I actually quite enjoyed giving it a strum earlier and so I might try and incorporate it into my songs (I'm a songwriter of sorts).. in which case, I may keep it out of her way for now - to ensure it stays in one piece! If she's still interested by Christmas, maybe Santa will be kind. :)

08-30-2015, 10:26 AM
Growing up in a house with music, I'm sure she'll take to it. I always let my son play my less-valuable instruments. He's 13 now, is a heck of a good trumpet player, fair-to-middling uke picker, and can find his way around on banjo and guitar. He's the only kid in his middle school that likes pre-WW2 jazz!

08-30-2015, 02:02 PM

I just re-read the original post and caught the part about 'Japan' being stamped on the headstock. Is my face red or what!

Based on that, I'd have to say it's mid-60's, among the first MIJ Harmony Co. production. Probably still a $50 uke on a good day though.

08-30-2015, 10:05 PM
I'm hoping so.. i'm doing what i can to sow the seeds! She's the only one in her nursery (including the adults) who knew who Harry Nilsson is (my favourite songwriter).. so I must be doing something right. She can't move for instruments in this house so with a bit of luck it will rub off!

08-30-2015, 10:10 PM
It's okay - I figured the 'Japan' thing might just shift the dates a little. :)

While you're on - if I intended to play Uke a bit more, would this be a respectable enough thing to start out on? Any advantage to getting a modern one? Or a different older one?

08-31-2015, 03:18 AM
You can do a lot worse than these old plastic fretboard ukes...because the frets are molded, they're spaced correctly so the intonation is usually pretty good (as long as the neck has remained straight). So it's good enough for starters!

When my 70 y.o. mother said she was thinking of learning to play an instrument, I gave her a plastic fretboard Harmony (she still hasn't done anything with it, but I play it when I go to visit!).

08-31-2015, 09:08 AM
Here ya' go. Scroll down to the different "brands" than manufactured and you'll see Howard: https://sites.google.com/site/ukulelemakers/h/ibanez

08-31-2015, 09:30 AM
Howard is referenced here:
Under Matsumoko.

08-31-2015, 09:33 AM
Both sites above reference it.