View Full Version : Vintage Ukuleles

Coconut Willie
01-18-2012, 01:10 PM
I am curious and hope others in the know can shed some light on what makes a vintage ukulele a vintage ukulele?:confused: Is it the age and if so how many years, or the style of the uke, type of wood...etc. Also, what makes a particular vintage uke desireable?

01-18-2012, 03:30 PM
Vintage is a term that, when properly used, includes a time frame, e.g. a 1920s vintage ukulele or a 1990s vintage ukulele. The word is often misused. When folks use the term however, they usually mean "old" and that is relative. So, your question is hard to answer with definity.

01-18-2012, 04:01 PM
Well, it's all subjective.

For me, vintage usually means pre-1970. As to what makes a particular vintage ukes desirable (to me), would be quality, quirkiness, and whether it's got puppy-dog eyes that make me want to save it. :P

01-18-2012, 04:12 PM
Age alone denotes vintage in the world of musical instruments. An example from eBay can be found in the category "Vintage (Pre-1980)"! By THAT definition, there are quite a few of our fellow UU'ers who are "vintage"! When it comes to ukulele's, the desirability of a particular vintage instrument will be a combination of the maker (Martin, Nunes, Dias, Santo, KUMALAE, Kamaka, etc.), the year that the instrument was made, the quantity originally manufactured & that survive today (thus the relative scarcity), and of course, current condition.

Like any collectible, a vintage ukulele may bring drastically fluctuating prices & in general, they are enjoying the current upswing in the ukulele's popularity - so for those of us who are vintage & find vintage ukes impossible to resist, the price we might have to pay for a particular make/model/year/condition is rising quickly!

Hope this helps! Mahalo!

01-18-2012, 04:17 PM
Also, the ukes someone else desires may be very different from the ones you may want to collect. I love old plastic ukes. And painted ukes from the 20s. But that's me- I love the music and instruments of a bygone era. Someone else may want to collect ukes made in the 60s and 70s. I agree with WhenDogsSing- "vintage" is often misused.
My Makala dolphin is the only uke I own that isn't more than 50 years old.

01-18-2012, 04:39 PM
Pretty much echoing what others have said, but my take on "vintage" is that it's a meaningless marketing buzzword.

As someone who has a lot of "vintage" in my life (clothing, furniture, at one time a few cars) I've gone from seeing it mean "old but not old enough to be antique" to meaning absolutely nothing. "Vintage" clothing now means 1980s, and I'm sorry but that's impossible - it has to be a lot older than me to be vintage IMO :) Likewise, with ukuleles, I've seen plenty of 1980s stuff listed as "vintage" when to me it's just "not all that new."

As a buyer, I want to know the decade something is from. In casual conversation, I may use the term vintage - e.g. "Vintage ukuleles have too many issues, I prefer to buy brand spankin' new" - but I would never describe something I was looking to buy or sell as "vintage." I would specify the era.

mm stan
01-18-2012, 09:44 PM
Vintage is me...he he lol.....nah I usually reguard if as period of origin...in that aspect, it can mean anything...to different people... but for me, anything before 1930 in ukuleles..

01-18-2012, 10:17 PM
As I have been an antiques and collectibles dealer since the mid 1980's I'm glad to have the opportunity to inform you that in that area vintage is 50 years old or older, antique is 100 years old or older. 1980 is therefore not vintage. A lot of people use it to define an era in place of "circa" which is more correct, means "approximately" and is from the Latin for "around". So you could say "vintage 1980 uke" but "circa" would be more accurate and correct. When I use vintage I specifically mean 50 years of age or older. I am "vintage". :p

Vintage as a word actually comes from Wine, in referring to a specific year or harvest or location, and is derived from Vintner, or wine maker. You could use it a number of ways correctly in the wine world, "That's a good vintage" would more relate to a specific year and vineyard. "The 2002 Seavey Cab is an especially wonderful vintage."

"My circa 1920's Harmony soprano currently up for auction on eBay is an especially nice vintage ukulele. If it doesn't sell and I keep it another 20 years it will be an antique ukulele."

01-18-2012, 10:22 PM
I forgot to say I like them vintage ukes a lot! They have character and flair. They may also have issues, but I've found they can be very tough too. They can take a lot of bangs and still sing. I am selling off some of my sopranos because I don't play that size much, I prefer concert and tenors. But I get a big kick out of them, they all have a story to tell, and I think sometime they are grateful to be found deep in closets and attics and shops, and then rescued and used, and like a dog you rescue they are greatful, but that's just me.