View Full Version : A uke not inherited...

11-06-2010, 09:12 AM
I was talking to my father today...he's rather baffled by my whole interest in the uke, but he told me something that I have to share.

He told me that while doing some genealogy research, he had run into a letter that mentioned his great-grandfather making a ukulele for his daughter (my great-great aunt, I guess?) right around 1910-15.

Sadly of course, the ukulele itself is long gone...but I do love just knowing the fact that my great-great grandfather built a uke. :)


mm stan
11-06-2010, 03:27 PM
Aloha Chap,
Nice story, glad to hear the ukulele runs way back in your family....have you tried to follow it down the family tree???might get lucky and be in one of the family members attic or closet...
thanks for sharing...be darn worth checking into...Good Luck!! MM Stan..

Hippie Dribble
11-07-2010, 02:25 AM
There you go Chap...your destiny was already written for you in the genes!!! They always say "Like father like son" don't they...amazing that you happened upon the beautiful ukulele before you even knew that about your great-great grandad...family histories are lovely in the way they weave generations together like a rich tapestry eh? Thanks for passing that story down to another generation of uke nuts!!!

11-07-2010, 03:07 AM
Sad that the uke is gone, but I understand the pride of knowing he built one...my parents don't understand my "obsession with that Uke thing" but being that we've always lived in the UK - at least our families have, I doubt there'd be someone in my back ground who played or made or something. Must be great knowing it was in the genes, so to speak!

11-10-2010, 05:51 PM
Great story. Too bad the ukulele is presumably gone. But you really should try to find it if it's possibly still in the family. I hope you don't mind my sharing a similar story some of which is almost embarrassing to tell.

Back in the mid 60s when I was about ten years old, I wanted to play guitar but my folks didn't have a lot of money and they weren't sure I'd stay with it. My grandfather said that he had his mother's old guitar and that I could have it. Obviously, no one gave a thought to what a ten year old could do to a guitar that was already at least forty years old. About the only thing I can recall about my great grandmother is that she was very frail, didn't say much, was blind and perpetually in her 90s. I never made the connection that this old woman bought this guitar new 40 or 50 years before. It didn't matter to me at the time.

Every week, my mother took me on the city bus to the music store for my lessons. The guitar had no case, so I just carried it and banged it on everything within ten feet of my path, I'm sure. I remember my teachers saying that it was a very nice old Sovereign guitar (what a dumb name for a guitar anyway, I thought) but all I heard at the time was "old" and I had to agree with that. After a couple of years, I was ready to move up from this stupid little acoustic guitar and get a real electric guitar. My parents still didn't think I was ready. My 12 year old brain figured that if I broke the little beast they'd have to get me something better like that Fender Mustang. I kept the acoustic under the bed and took several opportunities to "accidentally" kick it from time to time. It eventually worked. I put a crack in the lower bout and they bought me another stupid acoustic! Long story short, that eventually morphed into a series of electrics which I played until my early 20s at which time I got married, moved out and gradually got away from music altogether for a long time. I still didn't care much about that old acoustic and left it behind.

Fortunately, my folks held onto that broken little Sovereign and somewhere it found its way into a chipboard case I guess my dad found for it. I reacquired it about 8 years ago. It was beat up to say the least and the crack was still there but the side had warped and it just wasn't something I could fix. By then, though, I appreciated that my great grandmother had actually picked out and played that guitar and the mandolin which I now also have. (One of my cousins got her violin which I still need to seek out if it hasn't been lost or sold by now.)

I've put a little money into repairing the guitar. The crack is invisible and many of the dings have been steamed out and filled. I now know that it was made by Oscar Schmidt around the 1920s before Harmony bought the name. I rarely play it anymore; it's more an inspirational heirloom to me now. There are deep divots on the fingerboard and the frets are worn so it's not really playable. But I've no interest in restoring out all that character, so it will remain the little guitar that's been in the family for almost 100 years now. For all of the newer better instruments I've since bought, this is the last one I'd part with. I hope that one day one of my grandchildren appreciates it and it never finds its way into a landfill or pawn shop.

Thanks for letting me share that. Sorry about the thread-jack.