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Martin made Wurlitzer Soprano Ukulele
Re-Badged Martin
Photo Courtesy of
Legendary Ukuleles.com
Wurlitzer Soprano Ukulele circa 1924
Not made by Martin
Epiphone made Wurlitzer Banjolele
(Epiphone made) Banjolele
The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company, usually referred to as simply Wurlitzer, is an American company started in Cincinnati in 1853 by German immigrant (Franz) Rudolph Wurlitzer. They are much more famous for the Theatre Organs and Jukeboxes (which they did make), than for their Ukuleles, but for a period in the 1920's they did sell both Ukuleles and Ukulele Banjos, (and Mandolins, Guitars, Banjos, ect.). It is quite easy to find images of them but much harder to find solid information. Variously I have heard that Martin made the Ukuleles, (partly true - In 1922 to 1925, Martin made 297 standard Martin models, but with a simpler soundhole rosette, these have the Wurlitzer name and model number on the back of the peghead), any one of the big Chicago makers made them or they made them themselves? I have also seen that M. Nunes & Sons made some for them. What is agreed upon though is that Wurlitzer Ukuleles were very well made. Also with Wurlitzer Ukuleles, firm dates are difficult to pin down. The only one I could find apart from the Martin ones was a 1924 advertisement, (for Grover tuning pegs), and by this time they were an established quality brand ranking alongside Martin and Gibson. I have seen it suggested they were still selling Ukuleles in the 1930's but have no hard evidence. Certainly they had stopped by WWII and didn't put out any Ukuleles after.

Technically the brand is still in business though, after a number of ownership changes, (including Gibson at one point), they currently make fruit machines.

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