Small pre-war American Firms click for more

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As the first wave of Ukulele popularity grew, so a number of new companies jumped on the bandwagon. Some were Manufacturers with a history of making other instruments, some were Distributors, (or Jobbers as they were called at the time) who decided there was profit in having their own brands to market. Often now though there is very little information on what they made or sold.

George S Sandstrom

An early Banjolele maker from Oakland, California. In 1917, (and awarded in 1920 but in both cases later than John Bolander), he filed a patent for a bracketless head tensioning device that in theory could be used on any Banjo but I have only seen on Banjoleles. His were very similar to other California Banjoleles of the time with the hole in the headstock, and no tailpiece. His had proper fret markers and a full bowl shaped resonator though. His were unbranded apart from on the internal brackets, (the flag on one of the pictures is an aftermarket addition), but he also made some of the early Rolando branded Banjoleles for SoCal.

The Oahu Publishing Co.

It was actually based in Cleveland, Ohio for all of the pretentions of the name, but it specialised in faux Hawaiian musical merchandise hence the name. They were apparently founded in the early 1930's lasting until 1985 and they are most famous chordophone wise for Lap Steel and Hawaiian Guitars. Though in business after the first wave of Ukulele popularity so it wasn't a big item, they did certainly before WWII, include a Ukulele and a Banjolele in their catalogue but only the one model of each in the catalogues I have seen. They liked to give the impression that they produced their own instruments in Cleveland and possibly they did make some(?) but the bulk of the ones I have seen were made by the big Chicago firms, particularly Regal, (though Kay is often mentioned too), and this was almost certainly the case for the Ukuleles too.

Wilson Brothers Manufacturing Co.

Founded in Chicago in 1887 as Wilson-Jacobs, becoming Wilson Bros in 1917, (and the main brother was called Thomas), the firm was originally a maker of Drums but like a number of other drum makers in the 1920's they had a go at making some Banjos, starting in 1925 with some Tenor Banjos. At the time of the announcement of this new line they also suggest they are going to include Guitars, Mandolins and Ukuleles in their Catalogue too? Exactly what they made I'm not sure, I have seen Tenor Banjos that look like Tenor Banjos, Banjos that look smaller, but may still be Tenor Banjos or may be Banjoleles? and I have seen a photo of a Ukulele, (though not of sufficient quality to say if they were making them or just rebranding - and I have read of a business connection with Lyon & Healy). I believe they went out of business in 1928 due to poor management and general lack of sales so it wasn't only the Banjos that killed them this time.
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