Vintage Ukulele

The ukulele, as we know it today, originated in Hawaii in the 1880s and rapidly gained popularity - mostly thanks to the enthusiastic support of King Kalakaua, Hawaii's last reigning monarch.

The instrument's basic design was derived from a small guitar called the machete, and first crafted in Hawaii by immigrant Portuguese cabinet makers.

Ukuleles now generally come in one of four sizes - each size with its own name:
* Soprano: Total Length = 21" (Playable fretboard = 13")
* Concert: Total Length = 23" (Playable fretboard = 15")
* Tenor: Total Length = 26" (Playable fretboard = 17")
* Baritone: Total Length = 30" (Playable fretboard = 19")

The original Hawaiian ukulele was the smallest of the four - the soprano - so that size is often referred to as the "standard".

The next size up - the concert - came onto the scene in the 1920s and was soon followed by an even larger size - the tenor. The baritone, the largest of the group, was developed in the 1940's.  With each size increase came deeper tone and more volume.

Officially the ukulele is classed as a "plucked lute chordophone". In the United Kingdom it is usually spelt "ukelele" and the instrument is often affectionately nicknamed just "uke".

As the uke experiences a great resurgence in popularity these days, it's interesting to see the great variety of vintage ukuleles on the market - many at excellent prices. Well-made ukuleles get better with age and it is my feeling that the good vintage models will more and more be getting snapped up by players, collectors and investors.

Here are examples of vintage ukuleles available for sale today online.  Click on the links for more information:

Vintage Kamaka Japan Ukulele Gold Label Made in Hawaii Late 50s early 60s
Vintage Kamaka Japan Ukulele Gold Label Made in Hawaii Late 50s early 60s
$136.50 (11 Bids)
Time Remaining: 10h 17m

VINTAGE PRE WAR GIBSON UKULELE PROJECT FOR RESTORATION WITH CASE NO RESERVE
VINTAGE PRE WAR GIBSON UKULELE PROJECT FOR RESTORATION WITH CASE NO RESERVE
$208.50 (16 Bids)
Time Remaining: 19h 42m

Martin Vintage Ukulele 1933 37 Style 2 NEAR MINT
Martin Vintage Ukulele 1933 37 Style 2 NEAR MINT
$499.00 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 1d 14h 30m

Kamaka Ukulele Vintage 1950s Gold Label Pineapple HONOLULU HAWAII Koa Uke KK
Kamaka Ukulele Vintage 1950s Gold Label Pineapple HONOLULU HAWAII Koa Uke KK
$157.50 (14 Bids)
Time Remaining: 13h 5m

Vintage Kamaka Pineapple Ukulele Deluxe Blue Label Style 4 Antique c 1930
Vintage Kamaka Pineapple Ukulele Deluxe Blue Label Style 4 Antique c 1930
$865.00 (2 Bids)
Time Remaining: 1d 15h 4m

Vintage 1920s 1930s Harmony Soprano Ukulele PROJECT
Vintage 1920s 1930s Harmony Soprano Ukulele PROJECT
$35.00 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 2d 17h 36m

Martin vintage tenor ukulele
Martin vintage tenor ukulele
$425.00 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 3d 21h 39m

MARTIN Circa 1920s UKULELE VINTAGE
MARTIN Circa 1920s UKULELE VINTAGE
$286.43 (2 Bids)
Time Remaining: 3d 3h 13m

Vintage Cubist still life newspaper pipe ukulele
Vintage Cubist still life newspaper pipe ukulele
$150.00 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 1d 13h 23m

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