Chinese made Instruments from the 20th Century
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At the end of the "2nd wave of Ukulele popularity", (around the first half of the 1970's) the big Chicago makers had all gone, most of the Japanese makers had gone, there were very few Hawaiian makers and even Martin, whose fortunes had been made in the 1st wave of popularity gave up making Ukulele, So you see very few Ukuleles made in the 1980's or 90s. Most of the ones you do see were made in Mainland China, (which was still staunchly communist at this time), and had come fairly late to jumping on the bandwagon of the 2nd wave. Exact dates are hard to find, in fact most information beyond what it says on the label is hard to find, but mass production of Ukuleles started in the Shanghai region around the 1960's and continued through until the 1990's with some very budget brands. I have never seen anything that wasn't a Soprano though there was some variation around that scale length and the main brands appear to have come from different factories. As these were the only cheaply produced Ukuleles of the time they were widely exported, even to Hawaii, but this production had ceased before the 3rd wave boom brought a lot of Ukulele manufacture 1200km south in Guangzhou. Here are the brand names I have seen used, and any further information I can find.
The label tells us these were made in Shanghai and they were notable for being close to Concert size. I have seen a number of Larks with floating bridges and tailpieces, including some 6 sting "mini" Guitars I have also seen some Chinese made Ukuleles branded Sweet Tone, also made in Shanghai that appear to be from the same factory and it might be the case that this factory is still going but only makes Violins now?
This was, and maybe still is(?), the brand name used by China National Light Industrial Products Import and Export Corporation, Tianjin Stationery and Sport (currently based in Tianjin) for the Ukuleles they made. This information comes from the registration on the trademark Parrot in a Harp or Lyre and made in China underneath that is in the sound hole of every Parrot Ukulele I have seen. The registration was renewed in 1981 and is still current but I'm not sure if any Ukuleles are still carrying this brand name? I believe this was also the firm that made Musicland Ukuleles for Hohner
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