View Full Version : Please Help Me Identify this Ukulele

02-18-2011, 09:30 PM
Something interesting happened to me at the Open Mic/Jam Night at the Lynnwood Alano Club. I was sitting there, enjoying the music, awating my turn on stage when one of the organizers came up to me and said…


What is this? A ukulele? For free? Just giving it to me? Well, the guy explained he's had it in his car for ages, intending on giving it to the Goodwill. He was cleaning up his Grandma’s place and she told him to get rid of it. He explained that since I was the only uke player he knows, why not?

Oh. Cool. I surmised pretty quickly that this was a “tourist special”… mass produced for the millions of tourists who come to the Islands. I mean, look at what it says right on the body.


I wasn’t going to look a gift uke in the mouth! It was cute, but then I found something else in the box with it. This book:


The book has a copyright of 1927! It feels really old, has tuning instructions for the older “D” tuning instead of the modern “C” tuning and includes no songs newer the 1920’s. Could this ukulele be from 1927?!? I doubt it. The book might be, but it may just be a re-print of an old publication included with the tourist uke as a means to fool them. I don’t know. Hopefully, in the video below, I provide enough views and information about the instrument for the experts here at Ukulele Underground to help me figure out exactly what was given to me tonight, but if you have any questions about it or need better pictures, please ask.


So, uke historians, please helper a fellow ukester out. How old do you guess this uke to be? What’s up with the book?

Thank you much in advance! - Joko

02-19-2011, 02:16 AM
The copyright on the book doesn't mean it was printed that date. It could be a much later reprint but with the reprint date omitted. The look of the box and uke suggests a much later production. Geared tuners with plastic heads suggest at least the 1950s, probably later.

I've seen "5-Minute" booklets before - I have one on learning Spanish. Might be a popular line of publications or just a popular name. Would love to get a PDF scan of it.

02-19-2011, 04:57 AM
I have that booklet and mine is indeed from the 1920s. I've never seen a reprint, though - doesn't mean they don't exist, but I'd guess it's probably original. The uke, on the other hand, is a contemporary tourist uke.

02-19-2011, 05:19 AM
I think I should get myself one of those plastic comic-book holder thingies for the book in case it is original. I figured the uke itself looked too new to match the date on the book... Thanks for the expertise!

02-19-2011, 11:23 AM
Well, the book isn't so special either. I found the same thing on sale at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Illustrated-5-Minute-Guaranteed-Ukulele-Hawaiian/dp/B000LZ19WM) for $4.95.