Small Manufacturers from Europe click for more

Thomann Bohemia Strunal spruce top Concert Ukulele Corner
Strunal Kapua Concert
Throughout the world there are small Ukulele manufacturing firms, maybe a luthier who has expanded the operation and taken on some staff, maybe a number of craftsmen who have got together in some form of co-operative. However it started these manufacturers usually make very high quality instruments even if the Ukulele is not the firms main output. Also there are some larger instrument making firms, again more famous for other instruments but have made a few Ukuleles over the years

Eko

In 1959, Oliviero Pigini founded EKO in Recanati which then went on to become a major European musical instrument maker focusing their branding on the lower end of the market. As well as their own branding they were OEM for a number of more prestigious brands like Vox. In the 1970's their US distributor went bankrupt, I don't know if they did too but it certainly hurt business for them as did far eastern competition. They are still in business today though and have to an extent embraced the far eastern competition as their current catalogue includes a number of Eko brandes Chinese made instruments. Onto their catalogue and I have read that it did include Ukuleles in the early days though I have never seen any. In the 2000's it included fairly budget looking Chinese made Sopranos that were sometimes also branded Ukeit though in 2014 they have moved up in quality with a full range of Soprano to Baritone scale mahogany and spruce top Ukuleles, some of which they include in their Evo range of instruments, (I am unsure if these are solid or laminate and made in Italy or elsewhere, from the price though I would say Laminate and elsewhere? - I did ask but no answer). they have also expanded the Ukeit range to Concert and Tenor. On a number of the models, (especially the Ukeit range, though not all of them), I have seen the name Eko is painted on the upper bout of the soundboard, and looking at the early acoustic Guitars I wouldn't be surprised if this was the case on early Ukuleles too, except it would be burned on rather than painted.

Strunal

This is a firm based in Luby, Czech Republic, more famous for its Violins and Classical Guitars. Its foundation comes during the period of communism and the collectivisation that occurred under the name of Cremona, but it likes to put its origins way back further to the long history of instrument making in the region and the foundation of the Luby School of Violin making in 1873. the reality is Cremona opened a new factory in 1967 that was called Cremona Strundal and with the fall of Communism this became Strunal. It is quite a major concern still, employing around 100 people and making a variety of stringed instruments. It doesn't mention making Ukuleles anywhere on its main website, they do appear on the US one with two Concert models the Hoku and the Lono and I know it makes the Bohemia range of Ukuleles for Thomann, (both models can be found re branded on their site along with the cutaway Kapua) and possibly does some OEM for other firms too. It also makes a number of 1/4 size classical Guitars with a 440mm (17.3 in) scale that can be restrung as Guitarleles

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