Tag Archives: plastic ukulele

So, Does it Hibernate in the Winter?

Bear_Head5_preview_featured

From the Department of the Strange and Unusual comes the Bear-u-lele/The Ukulele with a Bear Head! Made of plastic (I assume) and printed with a 3D printer, the Bear-u-lele, according to its maker, is playable.

I guess playable is debatable, but you can strum it and get a sound out of it. Check it out in action Here.

If you’re into 3D printing, you can download the files to make your very own Bear-u-lele. It’s an 8mb Zip file.

And while we’re on the subject of 3D printing, if the Bear-u-lele is not your thing, how about a Les Paul Ukulele?

You can download the files for printing the LP Uke Here. This one is a 274kb Zip file.

Somehow I don’t think the makers of plastic Ukes have anything to worry about from 3D printers just yet.

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New Plastic Ukes on the Way

Kics Ukuleles

Kics Plastic Ukuleles

 

Coming this Fall is a new line of plastic Ukuleles called Kics, from the people who brought you the Kanaloa Ukulele and the Diamond Head Ukulele. Their marketing tag line for the Kics Uke is “Play one just for kicks.”

According to the guys at Kanaloa:

Kics Ukuleles are a high-tech design of injection molded plastic instruments that recreate the tonal qualities of wood.

Each Kics Uke will be supplied with a gig bag and comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Kanaloa are debuting their Kics line at Summer NAMM. They are expected to be available sometime in the fall. No word on pricing yet though.

Since the Kanaloa Ukes are made in Indonesia, is suspect the Kics line will be produced there as well.

 

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Here’s Your Chance to Own the ‘Holy Grail’ of Ukes

Circa 1926 Gibson Poinsettia Ukulele

Circa 1926 Gibson Poinsettia Ukulele

 

From the “Rare as Hen’s Teeth” Department comes this little tidbit: The Holy Grail of Ukes is for sale! That’s right, now you too can own the Holy Grail of the Ukulele world.

Up for sale on various auction sites like eBay and GBase is one 1926 Gibson Poinsettia Ukulele. And for a mere $11,579.00 it can be all yours.

Granted, these are pretty rare Ukuleles. There just aren’t a whole lot of them available anymore. I’m not sure how many exactly were made and how many survived, but I know of at least one other in existence, which is owned by a Ukulele Underground member, who posted about it here a few years ago.

The one being sold now is owned by Distinctive Guitar of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The condition is listed in various places as “Fair” and in others as “VG/EXC,” so take that as you will. The seller does acknowledge that this model has had some cracks repaired.

“This ukulele is in VG/EXC Vintage condition, there were some cracks on the back that were professionally sealed by Third Coast Guitar Service in Chicago, IL a couple weeks ago,” he notes.

According to the seller:

The headstock has “The Gibson” which puts is pre-1928 so this is one of the earliest ones made. Post 1928 you see just “Gibson” on the headstock logo and the fingerboard markers are often painted poinsettia’s instead of hand inlaid designs on the real vintage bakelite.

I’ve often wondered why Gibson made these Ukuleles with Mahogany bodies and plastic fretboards. Bakelite, as you probably know, is  a form of plastic, which was used for lots of things in the 1920s. Whole Ukuleles were made of plastic in those days. The fretboards on these Ukes are not Bakelite, however, they are another form of plastic called Ivoroid. Why Gibson chose to make a hybrid wood-plastic Uke is interesting.

According to Gruhn’s Guide to Vintage Guitars, the Gibson Poinsettia was available from 1927-1928 and featured “custom floral ornamentation with red poinsettia flowers on body and fingerboard, ivoroid fingerboard and peghead veneer, pearl logo.” They also were available as custom models from 1929 until the early 1930s.

I have to admit, it’s a very pretty Uke. Gibson spent a lot of time and care preparing these models. And with its original case, it’s a pretty cool find. But I’m not sure it’s worth the asking price. Possibly half the asking price is more appropriate, considering this one has been repaired and has wear from use. But it certainly would look nice in anyone’s collection.

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Beer and a Plastic Banjo Uke

1050s Mastro Plastics Banjo Uke

1950s Mastro Plastics Banjo Uke

 

We recently told you that plastic Ukes are making a comeback. Well, here’s one of the originals.

And this is a pretty rare find: a plastic Mastro Banjo Uke from the 1950s. It looks to be in perfect condition with its original box and song sheet.

Imgur user baldylox posted a few photos of a Mastro he (she?) has in his collection. And it’s a pretty rare one at that. It’s a Mastro issued as a promotion for Carling Black Label beer. Made by Maccaferri, I’m sure there weren’t that many produced. It may even be the only one still around.

Here’s how he describes the Mastro:

This is an old 1950’s Maccafferi Mastro banjo uke. It’s made of bakelite plastic. Maccafferi made a few of these bakelite plastic banjo ukuleles (in the US), but I’ve never seen one like this. It’s meant to be a promotional item for Carling Black Label Beer. The strings are the original color-coded nylon strings from 60 years ago. It comes with the original box and a little pamphlet with ukulele chords and a few songs, including a Carling Black Label jingle. When I got it the head was loose. The bakelite plastic ring holding it on had snapped at some point, rendering it unplayable. I tried some super glue, but the tension involved was too much for it. A little washer that holds the head together at the break did the trick. This little thing is so much fun to play. It sounds great, plays great, it’s weird. It’s an awesome little uke.

According to the Tiki King, Mastro Plastics was the name given to Mario Maccaferri’s French American Reed Company in 1964.

Maccaferri’s Mastro Plastics produced the Islander, the Islander Semi Deluxe, Islander Deluxe, (with an extended fretboard) The Islander Ukette, also known as “Sparkle Plenty”(a sort of small soprano) The Islander Baritone, The T.V. Pal, and the Playtune Senior. The Mastro line also included a Banjo Uke, and in the ’60s they even made a Beatles theme Banjo Uke (with the fab fours’ faces on the head) several Beatles theme “Jr. Guitar” Ukes, and other toy instruments such as bongo drums.

Not bad for a Ukulele that’s getting up there in years!

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Is it a Toy, or a Ukulele?

A multicolored Tofukulele made from Lego® Bricks.

A multicolored Tofukulele made from Lego® Bricks.

 

It’s both, actually.

It’s the Tofukulele. A Ukulele made entirely out of Lego® bricks. Well, not entirely out of Lego®bricks. The strings and tuners are not plastic. Well, actually, they are plastic, but just not Lego® plastic. The strings are Aquila’s and the tuning pegs are Grover friction pegs.

And the Tofukulele actually plays too. I guess you can consider it another all plastic Ukulele.

It comes in Soprano size in a number of colors–from white to multicolored. But be aware that it is fretless (without fret lines), so if you’ve never played a fretless stringed instrument, this could be a problem.

If you really must have one, Elderly Instruments is selling them for $275. Seems kind of pricey for a toy that is barely a Ukulele.

According to the Elderly web site:

Truly wonderful soprano ukulele constructed of Lego® bricks. While you will likely want to keep this out on display because of its unique nature, you will also enjoy playing it. Features include a fretless fingerboard, Grover friction pegs & Aquila strings. The design & construction are registered, with Patent Pending. One more very fine variant within the ever-expanding ukulele universe; or perhaps this one slipped over from a parallel universe. Regardless, we are pleased to offer it to you.

The only problem I see is the Patent Pending part. Since the Tofukulele is made out of Lego® bricks, an Lego® is a registered trademark, it’s going to be pretty hard to patent the Tofukulele, unless it is made out of generic plastic bricks. Then there’s the $275 price tag. I don’t think many people would want to spend that much on a toy plastic Ukulele, when you can get one like a Woodi USA, or even a Maccaferri Islander for less.

But it does make a nice wall hanger.

In case you can’t wait to hear what a Tofukulele sounds like, check out this YouTube video by the inventor.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Woodi USA Carbon Fiber Pattern Plastic Uke

Woodi USA Carbon Fiber Pattern Plastic Uke up for auction on eBay.

 

It seems that plastic Ukes are making a comeback.

Way back in the 1950s, plastic Ukes were all the rage, thanks to Mario Maccaferri and others pumping out the little plastic bundles of joy.

Today, that tradition is being upheld by companies like Woodi USA Inc., a maker of plastic musical instruments. Their line of plastic Ukuleles is proving to be popular, partly because they are fairly well constructed and mostly because they are very inexpensive–in the $50 range for a Soprano.

Except, apparently, the Carbon Fiber Pattern 2 WU-21G2 Soprano, which is listed on eBay for a whopping $554.99 (as you can see from the screenshot above). Man, that must be some high-tech space-age plastic they used to make that Uke! That particular model is not listed in the Ukulele section of the company’s web site, so I suspect it has been discontinued, or is at least out of stock until new ones are made. But $554 for a plastic Uke? Come on. Even if it’s a limited edition, or even a one-off, what makes it worth that much?

They apparently already sold two of them. But at that price?

I suspect the price is a typo on the Woodi eBay page. Most of their Ukes are listed at $54.99. Apparently the “5” key on their keyboard sticks. They also have the Pattern WU-21F7 Uke listed at $300. Again, probably a typo. Considering the MSRP on all their UKEs is $59.99, those prices are just a bit too high to be real.

But, hey, you never know.

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