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The ukulele (/jukleli/ yoo-k-LAY-lee, from 1.1 Canada

Hawaiian: ukulele [ukull] (oo-koo-leh-leh); variant:
ukelele),[1] sometimes abbreviated to uke, is a member In the 1960s, educator J. Chalmers Doane dramatically
of the lute family of instruments; it generally employs changed school music programs across Canada, using
four nylon or gut strings or four courses of strings.[2][3]the ukulele as an inexpensive and practical teaching in-
Some strings may be paired in courses, giving the strument to foster musical literacy in the classroom.[11]
instrument a total of six or eight strings. 50,000 schoolchildren and adults learned ukulele through
The ukulele originated in the 19th century as a Hawai- the Doane program at its peak. Today, a revised pro-
ian adaptation of the Portuguese machete,[4] a small gram created by James Hill and J. Chalmers Doane con-
guitar-like instrument, which was introduced to Hawaii tinues to be a staple of music education in Canada.
by Portuguese immigrants, many from Madeira and the
Azores. It gained great popularity elsewhere in the United
States during the early 20th century and from there spread 1.2 Japan
The ukulele came to Japan in 1929 after Hawaiian-born
The tone and volume of the instrument vary with size and Yukihiko Haida returned to the country upon his fa-
construction. Ukuleles commonly come in four sizes: so- thers death and introduced the instrument. Haida and
prano, concert, tenor, and baritone. his brother Katsuhiko formed the Moana Glee Club, en-
joying rapid success in an environment of growing enthu-
siasm for Western popular music, particularly Hawaiian
1 History and jazz. During World War II, authorities banned most
Western music, but fans and players kept it alive in secret,
and it resumed popularity after the war. In 1959, Haida
The ukulele is commonly associated with music from founded the Nihon Ukulele Association. Today, Japan
Hawaii where the name roughly translates as jumping is considered a second home for Hawaiian musicians and
ea,[5] perhaps because of the movement of the players ukulele virtuosos.[13]
ngers. Legend attributes it to the nickname of the En-
glishman Edward William Purvis, one of King Kalkaua's
ocers, because of his small size, dgety manner, and 1.3 United Kingdom
playing expertise. According to Queen Liliuokalani, the
last Hawaiian monarch, the name means the gift that See also: Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
came here, from the Hawaiian words uku (gift or reward)
and lele (to come).
The singer and comedian George Formby was perhaps
Developed in the 1880s, the ukulele is based on several the UKs most famous ukulele player, though he often
small guitar-like instruments of Portuguese origin, the played a banjolele, a hybrid instrument consisting of an
machete,[6] the cavaquinho, the timple and the rajo, in- extended ukulele neck with a banjo resonator body. De-
troduced to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immi- mand surged in the new century because of its rela-
grants from Madeira and Cape Verde.[7] Three immi- tive simplicity and portability.[14] Another famous British
grants in particular, Madeiran cabinet makers Manuel artist was Tony Award winner Tessie O'Shea, who ap-
Nunes, Jos do Esprito Santo, and Augusto Dias, are peared in numerous movies and stage shows, and was
generally credited as the rst ukulele makers.[8] Two twice on The Ed Sullivan Show, including the night The
weeks after they disembarked from the SS Ravenscrag Beatles debuted in 1964.[15] Today the ukuleles popular-
in late August 1879, the Hawaiian Gazette reported that ity in Britain continues to grow with the Ukulele Orches-
Madeira Islanders recently arrived here, have been de- tra of Great Britain touring globally, the George Formby
lighting the people with nightly street concerts.[9] Society (GFS - established in 1961) holding regular con-
One of the most important factors in establishing the ventions, the establishment of dedicated ukulele groups
ukulele in Hawaiian music and culture was the ardent sup- and festivals across the UK, Paul McCartney's 2002 trib-
port and promotion of the instrument by King Kalkaua. ute tour to George Harrison (a huge fan of the instrument
A patron of the arts, he incorporated it into performances and a member of the GFS), and many British ukulele en-
at royal gatherings.[10] thusiasts sharing their music internationally on YouTube.


1.4 United States mainland tablature into the published sheet music for popular songs
of the time,[22] (a role that would be supplanted by the
guitar in the early years of rock and roll).[23] A num-
ber of mainland-based stringed-instrument manufactur-
ers, among them Regal, Harmony, and especially Martin
added ukulele, banjolele, and tiple lines to their produc-
tion to take advantage of the demand.
The ukulele also made inroads into early country music or
old-time music[24] parallel to the then popular mandolin.
It was played by Jimmie Rodgers and Ernest V. Stone-
man, as well as by early string bands, including Cowan
Powers and his Family Band, Da Costa Woltzs Southern
Broadcasters, Walter Smith and Friends, The Blanken-
ship Family, The Hillbillies, and The Hilltop Singers.[24]

1.4.2 Post World War II

1916 cartoon by Louis M. Glackens satirizing the current ukulele


1.4.1 Pre World War II

The ukulele was popularized for a stateside audience dur-

ing the Panama Pacic International Exposition, held
from spring to fall of 1915 in San Francisco.[16] The
Hawaiian Pavilion featured a guitar and ukulele en-
semble, George E. K. Awai and his Royal Hawaiian Boy in Hawaii wearing lei and holding a Maccaferri Islander
Quartet,[17] along with ukulele maker and player Jonah plastic ukulele
Kumalae.[18] The popularity of the ensemble with visi-
tors launched a fad for Hawaiian-themed songs among From the late 1940s to the late 1960s, plastics manufac-
Tin Pan Alley songwriters.[19] The ensemble also in- turer Mario Maccaferri turned out about 9 million inex-
troduced both the lap steel guitar and the ukulele into pensive ukuleles.[25] The ukulele continued to be popu-
U.S. mainland popular music,[20] where it was taken up lar, appearing on many jazz songs throughout the 1950s,
by vaudeville performers such as Roy Smeck and Cli 1960s, and 1970s.[26] Much of the instruments popular-
Ukulele Ike Edwards. On April 15, 1923 at the Rivoli ity (particularly the baritone size) was cultivated via The
Theater in New York City, Smeck appeared, playing the Arthur Godfrey Show on television.[27] Singer-musician
ukulele, in Stringed Harmony, a short lm made in the Tiny Tim became closely associated with the instrument
DeForest Phonolm sound-on-lm process. On August after playing it on his 1968 hit "Tiptoe Through the
6, 1926, Smeck appeared playing the ukulele in a short Tulips.
lm His Pastimes, made in the Vitaphone sound-on-disc
process, shown with the feature lm Don Juan starring
1.4.3 Post 1990 revival
John Barrymore.[21]
The ukulele soon became an icon of the Jazz Age.[22] After the 1960s, the ukulele declined in popularity
Like guitar, basic ukulele skills can be learned fairly eas- until the late 1990s, when interest in the instrument
ily, and this highly portable, relatively inexpensive instru- reappeared.[28] During the 1990s, new manufacturers be-
ment was popular with amateur players throughout the gan producing ukuleles and a new generation of musicians
1920s, as evidenced by the introduction of uke chord took up the instrument. Jim Belo set out to promote the

go viral was Jake Shimabukuro's ukulele rendition of

George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on
YouTube. The video quickly went viral, and as of De-
cember 2016, had received over 15 million views.[31]

2 Construction
Ukuleles are generally made of wood, though variants
have been composed partially or entirely of plastic or
other materials. Cheaper ukuleles are generally made
from plywood or laminate woods, in some cases with a
soundboard of a tonewood such as spruce. More ex-
pensive ukuleles are made of solid hardwoods such as
mahogany. The traditionally preferred wood for ukule-
les is acacia koa.
Typically, ukuleles have a gure-eight body shape simi-
lar to that of a small acoustic guitar. They are also often
seen in non-standard shapes, such as cutaway shape and
an oval, usually called a pineapple ukulele, invented by
the Kamaka Ukulele company, or a boat-paddle shape,
and occasionally a square shape, often made out of an
old wooden cigar box.
These instruments usually have four strings; some strings
may be paired in courses, giving the instrument a total
of six or eight strings (primarily for greater strumming
volume.) The strings themselves were originally made
of catgut. Modern ukuleles use nylon polymer strings,
with many variations in the material, such as uorocar-
bon, aluminum (as winding on lower pitched strings),[32]
and Nylgut.[33]
Instruments with 6 or 8 strings in four courses are of-
ten called taropatches, or taropatch ukuleles. They were
once common in a concert size, but now the tenor size is
more common for six-string taropatch ukuleles. The six
string, four course version, has two single and two dou-
ble courses, and is sometimes called a Lili'u, though this
name also applies to the eight-string version.[34] Eight-
string baritone taropatches exist,[35] and, more recently,
A modern red ukulele. 5-string tenors have been made.[36]

instrument in the early 1990s and created over two dozen

3 Types and sizes
ukulele music books featuring modern music as well as
classic ukulele pieces.[29] Common types of ukuleles include soprano (standard
ukulele), concert, tenor, and baritone. Less common are
All-time best selling Hawaiian musician Israel Ka- the sopranino (also called piccolo, bambino, or pocket
makawiwo'ole helped re-popularise the instrument, in uke), bass, and contrabass ukuleles.[37] The soprano, of-
particular with his 1993 reggae-rhythmed medley of ten called standard in Hawaii, is the second-smallest
"Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World, and was the original size. The concert size was developed
used in lms, television programs, and commercials. The in the 1920s as an enhanced soprano, slightly larger and
song reached no. 12 on Billboard's Hot Digital Tracks louder with a deeper tone. Shortly thereafter, the tenor
chart the week of January 31, 2004 (for the survey week was created, having more volume and deeper bass tone.
ending January 18, 2004).[30] The baritone (resembling a smaller tenor guitar) was cre-
The creation of YouTube was a large inuence on the ated in the 1940s, and the contrabass and bass are very
popularity of the ukulele. One of the rst videos to recent innovations (2010 and 2014, respectively).[38][39]

Range of notes of standard ukulele types:

Note that range varies with the tuning and size of the in-
struments. The examples shown in the chart reect the
range of each instrument from the lowest standard tun-
ing, to the highest fret in the highest standard tuning.

4 Tuning

Soprano pineapple ukulele, baritone ukulele and taropatch bari-

tone ukulele.

Size and popular tunings of standard ukulele types:

Ukulele C6 tuning Play .

My dog has eas tuning. Play

The (currently) most popular tuning for the standard or

soprano ukulele is C6 tuning: G4 C4 E4 A4 .[48] The G
string is tuned an octave higher than might be expected.
This is known as a "reentrant tuning"; it enables uniquely
close-harmony chording. A few players prefer low G
tuning, with the G in sequence an octave lower: G3 C4
E4 A4 , the same relationship as the top 4 strings (DGBE)
of a guitar in standard tuning.
Another common tuning for the soprano ukulele is the
higher string-tension D6 tuning (or simply D tuning), A4
D4 F4 B4 , one step higher than the G4 C4 E4 A4 tun-
ing. Once considered standard, this tuning was com-
monly used during the Hawaiian music boom of the early
20th century, and is often seen in sheet music from this
Ukuleles in a music store. period, as well as in many method books through the

1980s. D6 tuning is said by some to bring out a sweeter 8 Notes

tone in some ukuleles, generally smaller ones. D6 tuning
with a low fourth string, A3 D4 F4 B4 , is sometimes [1] ukulele. Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford
called Canadian tuning after its use in the Canadian University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK
school system, mostly on concert or tenor ukuleles, and public library membership required.)
extensive use by James Hill and J. Chalmers Doane.[49]
[2] Erich M. von Hornbostel & Curt Sachs, Classication of
Whether C6 or D6 tuning should be the standard tuning Musical Instruments: Translated from the Original Ger-
is a matter of long and ongoing debate. There are historic man by Anthony Baines and Klaus P. Wachsmann. The
and popular ukulele methods that have used each.[50] Galpin Society Journal 14, 1961: 329.
The higher pitched instruments (sopranino, soprano, [3] ukulele. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
concert) most often employ reentrant tuning, while the
lower pitched instruments (baritone, bass, and often [4] Tranquada and King (2012). The Ukulele, A History.
tenor) usually employ linear tuning, where the strings Hawaii University Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-3634-4.
are tuned from low to high pitch across the instrument.
[5] Belo 2003, p. 13
For example, baritone is usually tuned to D3 G3 B3 E4 ,
(like the highest four strings of a standard 6-string guitar.) [6] Tranquada, Jim (2012). The Ukulele: a History. Uni-
There are, however, exceptions, with some players pre- versity of Hawaii Press. pp. 3739. ISBN 978-0-8248-
ferring to place the tenor (and even, rarely, the baritone) 3544-6.
into re-entrant tuning as well.
[7] Nidel, Richard (2004). World Music: The Basics. Rout-
Hawaiian ukuleles may also be tuned to open tunings, ledge. p. 312. ISBN 978-0-415-96800-3.
similar to the Hawaiian slack key style.[51]
[8] Roberts, Helen (1926). Ancient Hawaiian Music. Bernice
P. Bishop Museum. pp. 910.

5 Related instruments [9] King, John (2003). Prolegomena to a History of the

'Ukulele. Ukulele Guild of Hawai'i.
Ukulele varieties include hybrid instruments such as the [10] David Kalakaua (18361891), Inaugural Hall of Fame
guitalele (also called guitarlele), banjo ukulele (also called Inductee, 1997. Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum. 2008.
banjolele), harp ukulele, and lap steel ukulele. There
is an electrically amplied version, the electric ukulele. [11] Karr, Gary, and McMillan, Barclay (1992). J. Chalmers
The resonator ukulele produces sound by one or more Doane. Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. University of
spun aluminum cones (resonators) instead of the wooden Toronto Press. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
soundboard, giving it a distinct and louder tone. The [12] Belo 2003, p. 111
Tahitian ukulele, another variant, is usually carved from
a single piece of wood,[52] and does not have a hollow [13] Belo, Jim (2003). The Ukulele: A Visual History. Back-
soundbox. beat books. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-87930-758-5.

Close cousins of the ukulele include the Portuguese fore- [14] Fladmark, Judy (2010-02-19). Ukulele sends UK
runners, the cavaquinho (also commonly known as ma- crazy. BBC News.
chete or braguinha) and the slightly larger rajo. Other
relatives include, the Venezuelan cuatro, the Colombian [15] Tranquada, Jim (2012). The Ukulele: a History. Univer-
sity of Hawaii Press. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-8248-3544-6.
tiple, the timple of the Canary Islands, the Spanish
vihuela, the Mexican requinto jarocho, and the Andean [16] Lipsky, William (2005). San Franciscos Panama-Pacic
charango traditionally made of an armadillo shell. In In- International Exposition. Arcadia Publishing. p. 36.
donesia, a similar Portuguese-inspired instrument is the ISBN 978-0-7385-3009-3.
[17] Doyle, Peter (2005). Echo and Reverb: Fabricating Space
in Popular Music Recording, 19001960. Wesleyan. p.
120. ISBN 978-0-8195-6794-9.
6 Audio samples
[18] Jonah Kumalae (18751940), 2002 Hall of Fame In-
ductee. Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum. 2007. Retrieved
7 See also 2008-06-02.

[19] Kosko, Ellen (2005). Music Cultures in the United States:

List of ukulele musicians An Introduction. Routledge. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-415-
Stringed instrument tunings
[20] Volk, Andy (2003). Lap Steel Guitar. Centerstream Pub-
Cuatro (instrument) lications. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-57424-134-1.

[21] Whitcomb, Ian (2000). Ukulele Heaven: Songs from the [42] On the soprano, concert, and tenor instruments, the most
Golden Age of the Ukulele. Mel Bay Publications. p. 11. common tuning results in a bottom string that is not the
ISBN 978-0-7866-4951-8. lowest in pitch, as it is tuned a 5th higher than the next
string (and a Major 2nd below the top string). This is
[22] Whitcomb, Ian (2001). Uke Ballads: A Treasury of known as re-entrant tuning
Twenty-ve Love Songs Old and New. Mel Bay Publica-
tions. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-7866-1360-1. [43] Ukulele/Banjouke. 2 January 2014. Retrieved 30
November 2016.
[23] Sanjek, Russell (1988). American Popular Music and Its
Business: The First Four Hundred Years. Oxford Univer- [44] Tenor ukuleles exist in a variety of styles, with 4, 5, 6, and
sity Press. p. 95. ISBN 0-19-504311-1. 8 strings. What the tenor is called depends on which style
[24] Just a Few Penny Dreadfuls, Ukulele and OldTime Coun- it has been designed in.
try Music, by Rev and Deb Porter, article in The Old Time
[45] Eight-string taropatch baritone ukuleles have been
Herald, Volume 9, Number Five, Fall 2004, Pages 1922.
made; however, they are very rare. See, for example, the
[25] Wright, Michael. Maccaferri History: The Guitars of Kamaka HF-48
Mario Maccaferri. Vintage Guitar. Retrieved 2008-06-
02. [46] See the Luna Uke Bass and the Kala U-Bass

[26] The Ukulele. Peterborough Music. 3 March 2002. Re- [47] U-Bass and Rumbler are trade names of the Kala ukulele
trieved 2011-09-15.The Ukulele company

[27] Arthur Godfrey (19031983), 2001 Hall of Fame In- [48] Ukulele in the Classroom. Retrieved 30 November
ductee. Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum. 2007. Retrieved 2016.
[49] James Hill - FAQ. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
[28] John Shepherd (27 February 2003). Continuum encyclo-
pedia of popular music of the world: VolumeII: Perfor- [50] Tranquada, J.; The Ukulele: A History; University of
mance and production. Continuum International Publish- Hawaii Press; Honolulu: 2012. 0824-83634-0 Accord-
ing Group. pp. 450. ISBN 978-0-8264-6322-7. Re- ing to Tranquanda, ""This is an old and seemingly never-
trieved 16 April 2011. ending argument. While the pioneering methods of Kaai
(1906) and Rollinson (1909) both use C tuning, a sam-
[29] Mighty Uke, Interview with Jim Belo, 2010
pling of the methods that follow give a sense of the unre-
[30] Best Ukulele. Friday, 2 December 2016 solved nature of the debate: Kealakai (1914), D tuning;
Bailey (1914), C tuning; Kia (1914), D tuning; Kamiki
[31] cromulantman (22 April 2006). Ukulele weeps by Jake (1916), D tuning; Guckert (1917), C tuning; Stumpf
Shimabukuro. Retrieved 30 November 2016 via (1917), D tuning.
[51] Kimura, Heeday. How to Play Slack Key Ukulule.
[32] Ukulele Strings - C.F. Martin & Co.. Retrieved 30
November 2016. [52] University of the South Pacic. Institute of Pacic Studies
(2003). Cook Islands culture. Institute of Pacic Studies
[33] Aquila Nylgut Ukulele Strings, wholesale source for re- in Association with the Cook Islands Extension Centre,
tailers and dealers. Retrieved 30 November 2016. University of the South Pacic, the Cook Islands Cultural
[34] - Want to start a website?". Retrieved 30 and Historic Places Trust, and the Ministry of Cultural
November 2016. Development. ISBN 978-982-02-0348-8. Retrieved 15
September 2012.
[35] Kamaka Baritone 8 String HF-48. Retrieved 30
November 2016. [53] Jeremy Wallach (22 October 2008). Modern Noise, Fluid
Genres: Popular Music in Indonesia, 19972001. Univ of
[36] Kala -KA-ATP-CTG Solid Cedar Top Tenor Slothead Wisconsin Press. pp. 268. ISBN 978-0-299-22904-7.
-Gloss Finish. Retrieved 30 November 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2012.

[37] Lamorinda Music. Retrieved 30 November 2016.

[38] The story behind the wildly popular Kala U-Bass. 7 Jan- 9 References
uary 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2016.

[39] Uke Baritone Bass w/Preamp Tattoo - Luna Guitars. Belo (2003) [1997]. The Ukulele: A Visual History
Retrieved 30 November 2016. (Revised & Expanded ed.). San Francisco: Back-
[40] The Scale is the length of the playable part of the strings,
beat Books. ISBN 0-87930-758-7.
from the nut at the top to the bridge at the bottom.
Tranquada, Jim; King, John (2012). The Ukulele:
[41] Exact range will depend on the tuning used and the num- A History. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii
ber of frets available Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-3634-4.

10 External links
Tiki Kings Ukulele Brand name database infor-
mation on over 600 ukulele makers past and present
The Ukulele & You an exhibition curated by the
Museum of Making Music, Carlsbad, CA that de-
tails the ukuleles history and waves of mainstream

Bass Ukulele utilizing Ashbory strings article on

Bass Ukulele

11 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

11.1 Text
Ukulele Source: Contributors: Eloquence, Bryan Derksen, Christian List, Or-
tolan88, William Avery, Merphant, Olivier, Bdesham, Infrogmation, JohnOwens, Dnjansen, DavidWBrooks, Andrewa, Julesd, Pipian,
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Xmlizer, Hinrik, Discospinster, Paul August, Bender235, ESkog, Evice, CanisRufus, McCorrection, Kwamikagami, Pneuhaus, Joaopais,
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Mancunius, Rjwilmsi, Jake Wartenberg, Vegaswikian, InFairness, Danfuzz, The wub, Bhadani, Mobius131186, Pettijohn, FlaBot, Doc glas-
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rollargz, Pumle, Flypogo and Anonymous: 895

11.2 Images
File:3_ukes.jpg Source: License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: Own
work Original artist: Emma dusepo
11.3 Content license 9

File:Boy_w_ukulele.jpg Source: License: Public domain

Contributors: Father of JGKlein, used with permission Original artist: Father of JGKlein, used with permission
File:Commons-logo.svg Source: License: PD Contributors: ? Origi-
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File:Gnome-mime-sound-openclipart.svg Source:
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svg, which is public domain. Original artist: User:Eubulides
File:Loudspeaker.svg Source: License: Public domain Contrib-
utors: New version of Image:Loudspeaker.png, by AzaToth and compressed by Hautala Original artist: Nethac DIU, waves corrected by
File:My_dog_has_fleas.png Source: License: CC-BY-
SA-3.0 Contributors: ? Original artist: Hyacinth at English Wikipedia
File:Red_Ukulele.JPG Source: License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Con-
tributors: Own work Original artist: Declan M. Martin aka Dmartin969
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File:Ukulele1_HiRes.jpg Source: License: CC-BY-SA-3.0
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File:Ukulele_Craze_1916_Glackens.jpg Source:
Glackens.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: Cartoon by L. M. Glackens published in the New York Tribune, Sunday, November
5, 1916. Via [1] Original artist: Louis M. Glackens
File:Ukulele_chords.ogg Source: License: CC-BY-SA-3.0
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File:Ukulele_standard_tuning.png Source: Li-
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File:Ukulele_wall.jpg Source: License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contrib-
utors: Transfered from en.wikipedia. Original artist: en:User:Tijuana Brass

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