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

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Strad-O-Lin Soprano Ukulele
Strad-O-Lin Soprano
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.

Jeni-Frank

This is another of the fairly mysterious brands. From the label, the firm was based in Burbank California and from the look of the Ukulele and the decal it was made in the early 1950's probably in the US but this is not definite. Beyond this I can find no more information, Tiki King suggests the name came as a result of someone called Frank doing something for his partner Jeni? I suspect that whoever Jeni-Frank were they were only branding and not the actual maker. The Ukuleles themselves have a very large squared off heel and don't look like they are of great quality - also a lot of the ones I have seen have lost the 12th fret - but people who own them say they sound very good?
If anyone has any more information on, or better pictures of, this brand or even a better picture please let me have it so I can update the page

K and K Musical Instrument Co.

This is a bit of a mystery brand? They were based in New York and I have read that they made musical instruments, I have also been told this is not true and they were only ever a distributor and it is the case all the Ukuleles I have seen from them have been ones they distributed, (and possibly imported), from other makers. For example I have been told that in 1962 they sold 50 Baritones made by Favilla but branded K and K. On the Baritone's logo, (and this is another example of the widely branded and distributed Baritone of the 50's and 60's) there is a postal address of New York 3 (thus dating it to before 1963 and ZIP codes). The Sopranos Just have the logo on, (but look like 1950's/60's far eastern manufacture). I believe the firm is no longer in business but possibly lasted into the 21st century?

Strad-O-Lin

This is one of those names that everyone has heard of, but no-one seems to know a lot about, (to start with is it Strad-O-Lin or Stradolin? I have seen both). What I do know is they were a New York distributor, (possibly the Hominic brothers), in business from the 1920's through to the 1960's who only sold instrument branded Strad-O-Lin and sold them mainly if not exclusively through catalogues. The instruments themselves were made by a number of makers, (all of the usual New York makers are suggested plus most of the Chicago ones too), and ranged from good quality to low end. This apparently could be the case with the same model as the manufacturer of the model could change midway through production? They are most famous for their Mandolins followed by their acoustic Guitars with other instrument are very much an afterthought. They did sell 5 string Banjos at one time plus accordions. I have seen no evidence of them making Ukuleles for most of the time they were in existence, but I have seen it suggested that the Strad-O-Lin name changed hands in the late 50's (the key story for this point says around 1957 Multivox/Premier brought the company and the brand - it was certainly the case that Multivox owned the trademark Stradolin when it was finally cancelled in 1990. It is also the case Stradolin was first registered in 1940?). Whatever the reason the name was, at this time put on a larger than previously catalogue of low end, far eastern imported instrument, including Soprano Ukuleles. (I have seen the name linked to the US Strad Baritones but this is just a suggestion, with no evidence and probably just because the names are similar? After all why brand the Sopranos one way and the Baritones another, doubling your advertising bill?)
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