European Makers, Importers and Distributors post WWII click for more

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Palitoy Plastic Soprano Ukulele
In Europe the second wave of Ukulele popularity didn't really happen. There was no trucking across the Pacific, via Hawaii, to Occupied Japan. There was no nightly entertainment from Arthur Godfrey and George Formby went out of fashion. Post war Europe was a place of austerity and rebuilding without the frivolity of playing small musical instruments and by the time the austerity was over it was all Rock'n'Roll and electric Guitars. The music industry in Europe was much reduced, especially in the UK where manufacturing all but ended. There were a few firms to start up in this time though, in Germany it was seen as a safe industry to start up again and the arrival of instruments from the far east led to a few new importer/distributors some of whom tried the market for Ukuleles.

Günter Penzel

He was a German luthier whose father was also a luthier. Günter learned the trade from his father and by working for a number of the instrument makers, (Musima and some of the Migma luthiery shops) in the Markneukirchen area, starting in 1952. With the end of Communism he started his own workshop and made all manner of fretted chordophones, specialising in Lutes and bowl back Mandolins, but including flat top Mandolins, Guitars and Soprano Ukuleles. I believe he died in 2009. I have read of a Guitar maker called Walter Penzel but he is a different person and to my knowledge no relation?


Palitoy was a British toy maker founded in 1909 and probably most famous for making plastic action figures. As with most of these sorts of business it went through a number of takeovers, finally by Hasbro who absorbed it in 1994. During the 1960's they too had a go at making a plastic Ukulele.

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