US Small Importers/Manufacturers/Distributors post WWII click for more


RCA Victor Royalist Baritone Ukulele
Royalist Baritone
The war, and subsequent occupation in the Pacific meant a lot of US servicemen travelled to or from the conflict via Hawaii, and often picked up a Ukulele somewhere along the way. Given its portability and the remembered childhood popularity they also often learned to play them and when they came home after the war this led to the second wave of popularity for the Ukulele, (but not in Europe as they were less involved in the Pacific war). With the rise in popularity and the rise in far eastern manufacture this meant there was a business opportunity for a lot of small companies either making, or more often importing and distributing Ukuleles. Some of these companies didn't last long and often there is not a lot of information on them beyond names on the headstocks.

Merson

A New York distribution company owned by Bernie Mersky and Ernie Briefel. They were the importers of Hagstrom Guitars and Giannini Instruments. but as well as distributing other brands they also had their own, Tempo I have seen both Sopranos and Baritones with a variety of different logo styles. The early models were made in the US by the United Guitar Co. of Jersey City, N.J. and the later models were made in Japan by Matsumoko. In 1967 this company merged with Unicord, (owners of Univox), and became Merson Musical Products, A Division of Unicord Incorporated, A Gulf + Western Systems Company (I believe there was some kind of de-merge in the late 70's?)

Royalist

The house brand for RCA Victor. The Guitars were made by a number of factories over the years including Regal in the 30's, Guyatone in the late 60's and a Dutch firm called Egmond in the 50's so its possible that the Ukuleles were too, (but I have never seen an Egmond Ukulele)

Truetone

This brand was registered as a trademark in 1945 for car radios and 1964 for Ukuleles by Western Auto Supply Co. Kansas City. The Ukuleles with this branding that I have seen were all Sopranos and all made in Japan

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