US Small Importers/Manufacturers/Distributors post WWII click for more

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Frank Zappa D'mini Les Paule Guitalele
D'Mini Les Paule
The war, and subsequent occupation in the Pacific meant a lot of US servicemen travelled to or from the conflict via Hawaii, and often picked up a Ukulele somewhere along the way. Given its portability and the remembered childhood popularity they also often learned to play them and when they came home after the war this led to the second wave of popularity for the Ukulele, (but not in Europe as they were less involved in the Pacific war). With the rise in popularity and the rise in far eastern manufacture this meant there was a business opportunity for a lot of small companies either making, or more often importing and distributing Ukuleles. Some of these companies didn't last long and often there is not a lot of information on them beyond names on the headstocks.

Phased Systems

This was a firm that existed in the first half of the 1980's making small scale hommages to some of the most famous of the solid body electric Guitars and Basses of the time. Exact information on them is scarce, I have read they were made in California or Japan and my best guess is they were made in Japan for a California firm? They were always 6 string, (apart from the Basses), and I have read that the scale was 425mm (16¾ in) or 490mm (19¼ in and I don't know what the Bass scale was?), possibly both? Finally I'm not 100% on the tuning though I have read they were tuned to A which if this is the case, (and the name Phased Systems suggests to me they would be tuned up from the normal E), with the 425mm scale puts them firmly into what is now considered a Guitalele. The Instruments themselves were branded as D'Mini and had a model called a Strate (looking like a Fender Stratocaster but putting the e on the end of the model name), a Les Paule (again with the e) plus models that looked like a Gibson Flying V and a Gibson Explorer, (plus the Bass looking like a Fender Precision Bass) but I don't know what these models ere called. They must have been pretty good though as Guitarists like Frank Zappa, Steve Vai and Eddie Van Halen all played them.

Williams (of Los Angeles)

This is a bit of a mystery brand? I have read it is the own brand of Williams Guitars and Ukuleles, a Los Angeles Shop in the 1950's that doesn't appear to exist to day, and this dating is the only one you see floating around the Internet. The Ukuleles themselves have Williams on the headstock and Williams Los Angeles stamped inside. Most of the ones I have seen have a distinctive moustache bridge and a red nut and saddle; I would say clearly from the same maker but I'm not sure who the maker is? or if they are US made or not? (the 50's is a little early for Japanese). There are some that looks like they come from a different maker but has the same Williams logo on the headstock. These do look like they were made in Japan and are later. Then there are the Banjoleles is also interesting because the drum is made of clear lucite plastic as was the original bridge and the scale length is 17 inches, the same as a Tenor Ukulele? I have no idea who or where these were made either?

U.S. Music Merchandise (of New York)

Once again not a great deal of information, I know they were a distributor with an office on Broadway and a ceo called Carl Davidoff. I know they started before 1948 and were still in business in 1978 (but not it appears today?) When they were in business they had an own brand they distributed called Sekova and this range included a Baritone Ukulele, (probably manufactured by Hoshino) They may have had other brands too and this is a separate branding to Segova but they are often confused when looking for information on either.
If anyone can help with any of this up please contact me.

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