North American 21st C. small importers/distributors click for more

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There are a number of North American importers and retailers who have a range of Ukuleles they import, usually from China, and then brand with their own name. They are usually better than the budget end, (though may include a budget end model) and some can be quite good quality.

Empire Music

Founded in Vancouver, Canada in 1948 and since 1979 has focused its attention mainly on elementary music education though it has an online shop that anyone can buy from. It has a large house brand of all types of school classroom instruments called Emus , that includes a colourful range of budget mainland Chinese made Soprano Ukuleles. They also supply a range of Ukuleles from Taiwan that come in Soprano to Baritone, with a choice of friction or geared tuners and are branded The Classic in addition the same Taiwanese manufacturer also makes a copy of the old Northern Ukulele that Canadian schools use to use; this is branded The Triumph. I have seen different model numbers, (200, 400, 600), but I don't know the significance of them as the actual Ukuleles seem to be basically the same, a large Concert scale laminate mahogany? They come with a choice of geared or friction tuners though maybe that is one of the differences? The other thing I know, (and thanks to Dave Place for this), the label inside the 200 says it is a "Classic Low A" which is also something that is used by default on the classic soundhole label and that Empire Music make a big deal about when buying ukuleles from them - though Low A is not a very common Ukulele tuning?), is presumably referring to the tuning, so a different nut? (This firm has nothing to do with the Brazilian Triumph brand) These Taiwanese models I believe are an older house branding as it say they are made "exclusively for Empire Music" on the sound hole label It also say on the label they are Pure Hawaiian and I assume this is another brand name? I have also seen The Student as a brand for Sopranos but this doesn't feature in the catalogue now

Sunlite

Started out in 1984 as a Californian distributor of drums. They have added Guitars and Ukuleles to their catalogue over the years and now have a number of ranges of Ukulele in all scales from Soprano to Baritone, plus Pineapples, using the usual laminate and solid wood combinations they also distribute a second range branded Alani that from the look of them is the better Ukuleles, (certainly the more exotic wood choices) this range is only Sopranos, Concerts and Tenors

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