Small Manufacturers from North America click for more
Throughout the world there are small 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
Tommy George and Christian Stanfield of Somerville, Tennessee, (who make up George Banjos), primarily make 5 string Banjos but in 2009 they started to make Ukulele Banjos as well. They do a standard(ish) concert scale model in Walnut or Maple and Custom jobs on request I have seen Tenor and Baritone scales but no Sopranos and they are usually open backed but there are a few with resonators.. In addition to making instruments from scratch they have been know to buy in parts and just do assembly though the say this is not a major part of the business or what they usually do.
Kenny Hill started out as a luthier working in California making Guitars in the early 1970's and though he came later to Ukuleles he has still been making them for some time. Over the years he has used a couple of brand names for his Ukuleles including Ukebrand and Hill Guitars, The main output is still Guitars and he has expanded his manufacturing company, now having a small team of staff making his instruments including his sons. In addition to his own firms output he also does work in an "advisory" capacity for a Mexican and a Chinese factory, (or possibly a Mexican and then a Chinese factory), for the New World Range of Guitars.
This started out as a kickstart project in 2013/14 but the project was unsuccessful so they are being built on an individual basis until they can afford the tooling to go into full production. The project was started by Monty Ross, an electrical engineer, and the idea was to build a Ukulele with an onboard amp, speaker and full set of effects, (electrics designed by Ross). The ones currently being produced are Tenor scale with a small body so a Superconcert, (15 frets to the body), but they have made a Soprano prototype, and this may be added to the range in future. Along with the specialist electrics they come with a choice of exotic wood top veneers though beyond saying that it is reclaimed it doesn't say what the base wood is.
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