Hawaiian Makers from the early days to WWII click for more

James Wainui Hilo Soprano Ukulele
James Wainui
In researching the early period of Ukulele manufacture in Hawaii from 1890 to the Second World War, I come across a lot of referenced to small or short lived manufacturers some of whom were one man luthier shops, some tried to be big business but now there is not much to show from them beyond footnotes in someone else's biography or perhaps that dusty old Ukulele you find in the attic? If you look at the Ukulele Hall of Fame reference section you will see a number of Hawaiian Ukuleles from this period whose maker is "Unknown" perhaps they are examples for some of the people I have found reference to here?
(I should also note that some of these may actually be the brand names of Mainland makers who were pretending to be Hawaiian. After all this practice is what lead to the need for the Tabu mark, and if it was difficult to find out where the actual Ukulele was made then, it usually hasn't got any easier!)

Bergstrom Music Co.

A big music shop in Honolulu, (the biggest at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th centuries). To start with they sold the production of a few local luthiers, (and I have read that this was the shop for whom Martin made its first attempts at Ukuleles for in 1907) but as the Ukuleles popularity increased they opened their own Ukulele factory for sale in their own shop and to supply some of the New York Distributors; possibly the west coast ones too. one thing to note with Bergstrom ukuleles is the headstock logo is often on the back of the headstock. They also sold Ukuleles from other makers like Kumalae and you fine examples with Kumalae's logo on the front of the headstock and Bergstrom's on the back.

James Wainui

I believe he lived from 1909 to 1968 on the island of Hilo, (from his obituary), and he made the Ukulele pictured in 1936. I am told by the owner that he made others, (though I've not seen any), but I don't know if Ukulele making was his trade or just a hobby

Kanaka

I have no information on this firm? (possibly a mainland fake but Kamaka didn't have mainland distribution for it to be mistaken for?)


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