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

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.

Bobby Henshaw

He was a US entertainer both before and after WWII and he ran his own brand of endorsed Ukuleles rather that endorse the major makers output. It is said his Ukuleles were produced in Sorkin, NY and this may have been the case for a while in the beginning but a lot of the later instrument bearing his name were made in the Far East. I have seen Sopranos from a number of factories, and a couple of different Baritones all branded Bobby Henshaw

Gar-Zim Musical Instrument Corporation

They were importers and distributed from Brooklyn, NY. most famous for Zim-Gar branded instruments that I believe were for resale in K-Marts. All of the Gar-Zim Ukuleles I have seen were made in Japan and also branded Pirles. I have seen a number of Ukuleles and Banjoleles, also Japanese made, just branded Pirles I don't know if these were produced for Gar-Zim too?

Lapin Products

Lapin Products were a plastic factory from New Jersey in the USA. In 1950 they had a go at getting on the Plastic Ukulele bandwagon with the production of the Happy Tune Ukulele. I believe this is the only serious Ukulele they produced but they did make some Plastic Guitars, (some of which were 4 stringed and Ukulele sized) themed for TV shows and the like. I don't think they are still in business? If they are, they are no longer producing any Ukuleles.

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