Sunday, January 15, 2012

Uke Revival

In the early part of the 20th century, ukuleles were everywhere, having not yet been displaced by guitars as the most popular stringed instrument. The Martin guitar company made thousands and thousands of ukes—so many that they didn't even give them serial numbers which makes the vintage models hard to date and value today. But Martin stopped making them eventually when their popularity waned.

But a genuine, power-and-fire ukulele revival is under way. Martin started making them again a few years ago and now can't keep up with orders. And with Martin cranking them out again, boutique builders are cashing in as well, and popular rock 'n roots musicians are adding them to their repertoire (Dave Matthews, Eddie Vedder, Mumford and Sons, et al).

The hottest boutique uke builder right now is Mya-Moe Ukuleles in White Salmon, Washington, a husband-and-wife team (with a couple helpers) that is building drop-dead gorgeous instruments. You have to see the woods to believe them—here and keep clicking through them 600 plus ukes in the gallery.

Here's Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan doing one of her songs with her Mya-Moe:

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