Post wwii Asian Ukuleles click for more

Beat Guitar Plastic Hong Kong Soprano Ukulele Corner
My Soprano Beat Guitar
In rebuilding Japanese industry after WWII but for peaceful purposes, one avenue that was exploited was the manufacture of musical instruments (Gakki apparently means musical Instrument in Japanese?). Pre-War there had been a few well respected makers like Suzuki, so there was some skill available and it must have seemed like a safe idea - Until it killed Chicago (and a lot of other US) manufacturing!

Once in business, distributors found that giving the Ukuleles they produced Western Brand names was a better way to sell them, (somewhat similar to Chinese brands of today). Sometimes, with the older, long standing ones like T&D or B&J, they used old brand names they had used on Chicago made Ukuleles before the war. I have read that there were 80 firms started in Japan in the late 50's and early 60's to service the fretted chordophone boom but by 1970 50 of them had gone bankrupt! As far as I can see the same brand name may have been given to Ukuleles from a number of factories and each factory may have produced a number of brands, including some branded with their own Japanese name. This post war production was primarily Sopranos and Baritones, (I've only seen a couple of Concerts and Tenors), and mainly from Japan, with a few examples coming from other countries in the region. The Ukuleles themselves vary in quality from very low end to fairly high quality and some of these brands are now well respected internationally as makers.

There are also a lot of brands for which I have found very little information on apart from having seen some examples, some maybe "house" brands for the Factory, some would be for small distributors whose history now is gone:-

Alex-O (made in Taiwan) I have seen the headstock with and without the O + Altus (made in Taiwan) + Aragon + Asahi (Gakki) + Beat Guitar (Made in Hong Kong by T Plastics) + Bentley + Blackstone + Blue Hawaii + Cameo + Capri + Castilla (Made in Taiwan) + Clear Sound + Coast + Crown Professional + Diastone + Daiichi (Gakki) distributed Ukuleles endorsed by Masao Koga, a famous Japanese composer + Dixon (Made in Taiwan) + Douglas + Empire + Exotica + Flamenco (Made in Korea) + Fortune + Hoffmann (nothing to do with modern Boat Paddle Ukuleles) + Jupiter (made in Taiwan) + Kahala + Kyomei may have made larger scales + La Valencia (Made in Taiwan) + Lero + Linco (Made in Taiwan) + Marathon + Marco Polo (looks like they're Honshino made?) + Marlin (may still be branding budget instruments today?) + Masada + Melody + Minstral + Onken (Gakki) + Orlando + Pacific + Prelude (Made in Taiwan by V.M.I.) + Regency + Rhythm Band Inc. est 1981 (made in Taiwan) + Robin + Tara (made in Taiwan) + TGK (INA) (made in Nagato, Japan) + Venus + Windsor + York

Link to website trying to plot the Japanese makers of Guitars during the period - there is a lot of crossover
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