North American Luthiers of the 20th c. click for more
There were some great instrument makers and artists of the past who made some, often very nice, Ukuleles at some time during their careers, even if this wasn't their main output. It can sometimes be difficult to find out information about them, including if they actually made the instruments attributed to them?
The Ukulele pictured was found in California and is marked Gosparlin on the soundboard so it is assumed to be the work of Frederick Gosparlin He was a (Master?) Violin maker and holder of a number of Violin patents who was born somewhere in the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1891 but emigrated to California and died in 1978. To my knowledge there is no written records of his Ukulele production.
From New York, USA, he was famous for his archtop Guitars. He learned how to make instruments from his great uncle Signor Ciani, a mandolin and flat top guitar maker and he also studied Violin making. He was able to produce about 35 instruments a year at the peak of production. In addition to making Guitars he also made a few Mandolins and Ukuleles.
and by few I mean there were only 3. One is a spruce top Tenor that resides in the American Guitar Museum in New York and was made in 1932 for Benny Mortel's wife. The second is a mahogany Soprano from the 30s. The last is a sunburst Tenor Tiple. He died in 1964 but because of his reputation, his name lives on and is used by Crews Guitars amongst others
He was a long time employee of Martin who did a lot of the inlay work for them. He is also famous as a historian of Martins output with at least one book to his name. When he retired from Martin in about 1995 he started making Ukuleles, largely based on old Martin designs and was at the forefront of the third wave of Ukulele popularity. One of the Ukuleles he is famous for, is the one he made as a think piece from green marbled Formica. He died in the mid 2000's (I have seen a couple of different dates for his death)
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