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View Full Version : Polkalele info anyone?



lisaxy424
03-30-2013, 06:27 PM
Hey all! A friend of mine acquired a Polkalele from a relative, and immediately asked if I wanted to buy it (news of my uke addiction may be further spread than I thought...)

He said from his online research, that he's thinking $200. I have NO idea if that is a good offer or not - are these things rare, are they just decoration...help! :)

I did get to look at it and strum it a little, and it seemed to be in pretty good condition. It's a weird freaking thing to look at, but that makes it all the more appealing to me.

Anyone have any advice to whether this is a good investment? Thanks so much! :)

ukeofcarl
03-30-2013, 10:54 PM
Offer 120.

mm stan
03-30-2013, 11:06 PM
Aloha Lisa,
Looks quite unusal to say the least, and not really great sound.....it's a gimmick here watch this...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQEgZrE-of4

Leigh Coates
03-31-2013, 06:59 AM
Wow, that's a wild-looking uke! Might be hard to find a case for it :D

dkcrown
03-31-2013, 10:17 AM
Hey Lisa. $200 is way to high for a polkalaylee. I bought one for $80 a few years back and it's yours for $50 plus shipping if you want it. The Singing Treholipees built by Swagerty are more valuable and better players IMO. I have one of those with original tags too.

TG&Y
03-31-2013, 11:31 AM
Dang. Who wouldn't want one of those? Just to scare dogs and small children with if nothing else!
I must say, I was expecting an attached accordion of some sort, though...

OldePhart
03-31-2013, 01:14 PM
Aloha Lisa,
Looks quite unusal to say the least, and not really great sound.....it's a gimmick here watch this...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQEgZrE-of4

Doesn't help that the one in that video isn't even close to in tune. Of course, it might not be possible to bring one in tune, either!

The whole design was pretty obviously more about looking different than sounding or playing well. I have no idea what possessed someone to think that an extra few feet of useless wood stuck off the end of a headstock would make an instrument balance better... Considering that many people begrudge the weight of geared tuners on a uke that monstrosity is certainly a solution looking for a problem...and probably not finding it.

John

dkcrown
03-31-2013, 01:30 PM
Doesn't help that the one in that video isn't even close to in tune. Of course, it might not be possible to bring one in tune, either!

The whole design was pretty obviously more about looking different than sounding or playing well. I have no idea what possessed someone to think that an extra few feet of useless wood stuck off the end of a headstock would make an instrument balance better... Considering that many people begrudge the weight of geared tuners on a uke that monstrosity is certainly a solution looking for a problem...and probably not finding it.

John

The design was inspired by the surf craze in the 60's. The idea was that a surfer could stick the neck in the sand and run out and catch a wave on a moments notice after playing his uke.

mm stan
03-31-2013, 02:44 PM
[QUOTE=OldePhart;1229807]Doesn't help that the one in that video isn't even close to in tune. Of course, it might not be possible to bring one in tune, either!

The whole design was pretty obviously more about looking different than sounding or playing well. I have no idea what possessed someone to think that an extra few feet of useless wood stuck off the end of a headstock would make an instrument balance better... Considering that many people begrudge the weight of geared tuners on a uke that monstrosity is certainly a solution looking for a problem...and probably not finding it.

Aloha John,
Who sells strings that long...ha ha he must be using fishing line....LOL
Made by the Peterson Co, located in Ohio. Circa 1960. These Peterson built instruments are very much like Swaggerty's "Kooky Uke" line. These (the Peterson instruments) included the Polk-A-Lay-Lee and the Wander-le-le. The Polk-A-Lay-Lee was reportedly built as part of a failed advertising scheme for Polk brothers. Polk Bros. was the dominating electronics/appliance retailer in the Chicago market from about 1935 through the 1980s. However, the box and accompanying booklet make no mention of the Polk Brothers store. The box does however state that they are "Hand Made of Solid wood" but on all the Polk-A-Lay-Lee's I have seen it is fairly obvious that at least the top and back are plywood. The Polk-A-Lay-Lee was offered in brown, natural, red, or black.

bnolsen
03-31-2013, 02:50 PM
not for spearing fish or warding off sharks?

That's a wall hanger if ever I've seen one!

sukie
03-31-2013, 03:08 PM
Hey all! A friend of mine acquired a Polkalele from a relative, and immediately asked if I wanted to buy it (news of my uke addiction may be further spread than I thought...)

He said from his online research, that he's thinking $200. I have NO idea if that is a good offer or not - are these things rare, are they just decoration...help! :)

I did get to look at it and strum it a little, and it seemed to be in pretty good condition. It's a weird freaking thing to look at, but that makes it all the more appealing to me.

Anyone have any advice to whether this is a good investment? Thanks so much! :)
I bought for $40. Not in the best of shape. I like it as a wall hanger. But I did make my first video (Elephant Town) with it. Last I checked the plastic pegs were worth $25 each.

sukie
03-31-2013, 03:10 PM
Oh! And tenor strings work.

Stackabones
04-01-2013, 04:36 AM
It's the Gibson Moderne of ukes!

lisaxy424
04-02-2013, 04:50 PM
Awesome, thanks for all the responses! I feel way more confident asking for less than $200 now (plus I'd rather get a Mainland with that kind of money!) :)

Hootch
07-29-2013, 09:31 AM
I'm interested in buying your polkalaylee! Does it still play?

Hootch
07-29-2013, 09:33 AM
Hey Lisa. $200 is way to high for a polkalaylee. I bought one for $80 a few years back and it's yours for $50 plus shipping if you want it. The Singing Treholipees built by Swagerty are more valuable and better players IMO. I have one of those with original tags too.

I'll buy it! Does it still play?

Mango Mike
11-07-2013, 06:46 AM
I just picked up a Polkalaylee at an estate sale this morning. It is in pristine condition and came in the original box. $65

hoosierhiver
11-07-2013, 06:57 AM
Polkalele's were made by the Polk furniture company back years ago.
Buy a piece of furniture and you'd get a free Polkalele. The one I have is impossible to keep in tune.

mds725
11-07-2013, 07:56 AM
Aloha Lisa,
Looks quite unusal to say the least, and not really great sound.....it's a gimmick here watch this...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQEgZrE-of4

For those who, like me, got a YouTube page saying this video was private, here's another one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpxqh_3vU1w

Radio Flyer
11-07-2013, 08:18 AM
thanks mds725.

iamesperambient
11-07-2013, 08:18 AM
For those who, like me, got a YouTube page saying this video was private, here's another one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpxqh_3vU1w

that thing is huge I'm guessing it's a soprano scale so from a practical point of view it seems pointless being so long... I always liked the small siZe of ukes because I'm a small guy and their portable seems more like a wall decoration than a playable instrument.

Grimula
11-06-2014, 11:18 PM
My Grandmother just found me a Kookalaaaleee from Ansil swaggerty in perfect never before used condition and it sounds Amazing.....so I don't know what you mean haha

I LOVE THIS INSTRUMENT I would pay more then 200 for another...if it was in Perfect condition.

sorry never played a Polkalele Only played the Kookalaalee and I love it soo much

Grimula
11-07-2014, 12:45 AM
72610

72611

ukulelekarcsi
11-07-2014, 02:04 AM
Yes, you can tune them and they can stay in tune. Having said that (and owning one) it's really hard to do. Soundwise the Peterson ones are not great (but better than the cardboard sound of some modern ukuleles), but their value lies in their size and shape. Part musical instrument, part psychedelic scythe. If ever a snobby guitarist tells you a ukulele isn't a proper 'axe', pull this one out.

I'm not sure about the surfing. Swagerty advertised his line certainly for use on the beach, but Peterson in Ohio was far away from surfable waters with sandy beaches. I also haven't figured out who was first in making a truely outrageous 1960s ukulele with excentric headstocks, Swagerty or Peterson, and whether one of them took inspiration from the other.

200$ seems a lot. And be sure to check if the tuners aren't broken - if you don't grab them at their firmest part, they easily crack and break.

Note that they were never exact copies: the Polk-a-lay-lee has an S-shape in the headstock, a full contact bridge, an oval and oblique soundhole, a five-point kite-like body and much more square corners.

Grimula
11-07-2014, 03:08 AM
My brand new (OLD) kookalalee Never goes out of tune....Stays in tune for days =)
I have never had a problem keeping my kookalalee in tune

one of my favourite instruments ....this instrument found me !! and im soo happy to own such a sweet sounding one



Pokalaylee is the S shaped one ? Kookalayleee is the Straight Neck one.....I really want to collect ALLL the instruments Ansil Swaggerty made

What a very fun collection of instruments that would be

UkerDanno
11-07-2014, 03:24 AM
Kook-a-la-lee and the Treholipee look very similar, except maybe the Kook' has a straight neck and the Tre' is curved?

Treholipee
72616

Kook-a-la-lee
72617

personally, I like the Polkalele the best...
72618

bnolsen
11-07-2014, 09:03 AM
gugug has one in a couple of their vids....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjY1mnGb9iA

does anyone really need an excuse to post a link to a gugug vid??

Grimula
11-07-2014, 02:19 PM
They must have Made a few Variations on the instruments ?

mine is just a Brown colour Kookalaalee without the Varnish on it...and there is No Musical notes painted on it

wonder if mine is Older then the ones with Musical Notation painted on the front ?? Interesting

tonelar
01-22-2016, 06:49 PM
Kook-a-la-lee and the Treholipee look very similar, except maybe the Kook' has a straight neck and the Tre' is curved?
personally, I like the Polkalele the best...

Actually, the Kook' has a single heart shaped sound hole and came without the braided cord found on the other two kooky ukes.


They must have Made a few Variations on the instruments ?
mine is just a Brown colour Kookalaalee without the Varnish on it...and there is No Musical notes painted on it
wonder if mine is Older then the ones with Musical Notation painted on the front ?? Interesting

Hey Grimula,
Swagerty Kooky Ukes without painted on musical notes might be prototypes... then again, they are pretty old now and I wouldn't doubt that maybe a few have been sanded and refinished.

Sorry for resurrecting an old thread,

I've heard people distinguish between Wander-Lay-Lees and Polka-Lay-Lees by the color of their plastic. Anyone see any black pegs available lately?

coolkayaker1
01-23-2016, 03:14 AM
Could you chuck some PegHeds in there?

Tenore76
01-23-2016, 02:20 PM
Have been looking for one for some time now, and was just given one out of the blue!

I was surprised by the square neck, and the fact that the fingerboard is wider than the neck near the body. Action is really high, and the plywood is in rough shape. Was there originally some sort of finish on the body? I'm tempted to refinish the body just to save the wood. I can't imagine there's that much monetary value that would be ruined by that...it's already been fun...I had my sixth grade choirs convinced that it was made for military bands that might need to use their instruments as weapons!

87691

What's the difference between the black and red plastic?

tonelar
01-24-2016, 10:03 AM
Have been looking for one for some time now, and was just given one out of the blue!

I was surprised by the square neck, and the fact that the fingerboard is wider than the neck near the body. Action is really high, and the plywood is in rough shape. Was there originally some sort of finish on the body? I'm tempted to refinish the body just to save the wood. I can't imagine there's that much monetary value that would be ruined by that...it's already been fun...I had my sixth grade choirs convinced that it was made for military bands that might need to use their instruments as weapons!

87691

What's the difference between the black and red plastic?

Some have maintained the WanderLayLe is the model with black plastic, while the red plastic tuners and fretboard makes the instrument a PolkALayLe. However, I recently came into a PolkALayLee that is appointed in black, so there goes that "rule".
87718

Tenore76
01-24-2016, 10:09 AM
Considering this one has "Polk-A-Lay-Lee" on the headstock (bayonet?), this would also seem to refute this, though I had never heard of a Wanderlele before this thread, so I may be misunderstanding. Is the square neck a standard thing on these?

tonelar
01-24-2016, 02:16 PM
Could you chuck some PegHeds in there?

I've had success shaving cello pegs down to fit before. I've seen Ukulele tuning pegs (like the Grover brand) used as well.


Considering this one has "Polk-A-Lay-Lee" on the headstock (bayonet?), this would also seem to refute this, though I had never heard of a Wanderlele before this thread, so I may be misunderstanding. Is the square neck a standard thing on these?

"(the Peterson instruments) included the Polk-A-Lay-Lee and the Wander-le-le. The Polk-A-Lay-Lee was reportedly built as part of a failed advertising scheme for Polk brothers. Polk Bros. was the dominating electronics/appliance retailer in the Chicago market from about 1935 through the 1980s."
http://www.tikiking.com/uke_db/Polk_A_Lay_Leedb.html

Yepp the necks are very square.