View Full Version : Days gone by

04-19-2016, 08:54 AM
For various reasons great ukes stop being made.

What are some of your favorites that are no longer available, that you think are probably still as good as, or maybe better than stuff being put out today?

Sometimes we have tunnel vision based on the latest listings on HMS, or what was shown at NAMM. But there's been alot of great people over a very long time that have done great things that are now mostly forgotten. Lets un-forget, and maybe learn what to be on the look out for.

hawaii 50
04-19-2016, 09:14 AM
just to be fair not all ukes sound good because they are old.....here in Hawaii all my Aunties and Uncles think that Martin ukes from their day are the best...and some are amazing...but they built so many..but Martin was the uke of choice in Hawaii...mostly Mahogany ones not Koa....

in general I think newer ukes built by custom builders are way better than custom ukes say from 1980 up....most of the good builders now learned from them when they started out....and from what I see the fit and finish of the new ukes today are way better.....

my 2 cents

04-19-2016, 10:39 AM
Doesn't even need to be vintage.

There was a sam kamaka tenor somewhere.. ebay? that made me think... I bet that sounds amazeballs but most people wouldnt even know to be looking out for it.

The marcy marxer in the market place was somewhat panned, like it was worse than the atp-ctg-ce, but it was probably as good if you like spruce, maybe better. The reviews for it were very positive in it's time. All solid construction, x-bracing, etc.

I know there's many many ukes, and we've come a long way. But sometimes.. things just stop getting made, not because it wasn't great but because times change, or they're trying to save cost to widen a margin, or.. someone died, or they ran out of unobtanium.

04-19-2016, 11:01 AM
I wish Brad Donaldson was still building instruments. I have one of his koa sopranos and it is truly a joy to play and sounds wonderful!

04-19-2016, 02:48 PM
If I had to broadly pick one, I'd go with Vintage Baritones. People seem to love, love, love them here (Favilla, Harmony, Giannini) and comparatively poo-poo the newer ones. I have a vintage Giannini and do like it, but it's basically a laminate. I wonder if mine is the 1970's equivalent of a modern-day Kala KA-B, for example. Will that Kala KA-B age gracefully and memorably 40 years from now?

04-19-2016, 05:20 PM
I started playing the uke about 6 months ago. I've had a Favilla soprano hanging around for decades without knowing what it was. I sounds terrific and plays easily. It has earned a place with Mya Moe, Charles Fukuba, to mention two. The Favilla family is is one of those old time builders, who found the groove. I took the back off one recently ( an eBay "project") and was surprised by its no-baloney simplicity.
Having said that, I'm finding that modern instruments are "advanced" over their predecessors. No need to elaborate but I think the internet has become a sort of luthier's telegraph and super brain. When I started building musical instruments 50 years ago, there really was nothing but guesswork, experiment, or apprenticeship. The high-wire world of mandolin is a great example of how far things have come compared to the Gibson's of the 20's.

04-19-2016, 07:19 PM
I have not seen GString production ukes that were around 8-10 years ago. Ukulele Friend has a few customs every now and then, but not the plain koa ukes with the radius fretboard. Wish I had picked up a concert back then as they were fairly affordable and played and sounded great.


mm stan
04-20-2016, 02:14 AM
Brad Donaldson, Kawika, William King, G string, Steve van Pelt, Keli'i ...to name a few

04-20-2016, 02:29 AM
The once hugely desireable Glyph ukuleles, by Dave Means.

And, for about one year, the faddishly popular Willie Wixsom.

04-20-2016, 04:07 PM
Of course, Breedlove now left the uke game, too.

04-20-2016, 05:25 PM
Like Stan mentioned, Two of my favorite builders who aren't building are Steve vanPelt and David Hurd.
Wish Sant Cruz Guitar Company would build more ukes, too.

But to name popular uke builder names from the past, Gibson, Harmony, and Regal.

04-21-2016, 01:30 AM
David Newton made some fine ukes and it appears he is only doing guitars now.

04-21-2016, 03:58 AM
Sideways 8 ukuleles, by a young man in Brooksville, FL. He built ukes out of easily obtainable and renewable native woods. They were high priced and beautiful, and sounded great. I didn't order one because he said he wouldn't build me a concert size. Both years he displayed at TBUG, the ukes were all tenor or soprano. His website has been removed, and for all I know maybe he is building cabinets. Sad.

04-21-2016, 08:19 PM
What in the hell happened to Leolani ukuleles?! I always liked the look of them and then they vanished.

04-23-2016, 04:20 AM
I really love those Harmonys with the plastic fretboards.

04-23-2016, 07:43 AM
I really love those Harmonys with the plastic fretboards.

Agreed, they are quite fetching...and easily refretted with a woodburning set and a steady hand.