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They show up in garage sales, attics and basement. They show up in backyard talent shows. They even show up on the Antiques Roadshow. They are the ukelins.

What are they? Who came up with such a thing? Are they valuable? Are they firewood? Are they musical? Read on!

Here you'll find all things ukelin. Ukelin friends and foes alike will find a forum to satisfy curiosity, answer maddening ukelin questions, buy one, sell one, locate or perhaps even contribute arcane ukelinian trivia.

I consider this site to be my public service to the musical community, born of frustration for ukelin information, and fed by, can I say "healthy" ukelin enthusiasm?

Enjoy the fruit of my labor. Feel free to contact me at ukelins@hotmail.com


What's New?


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most popular ukelin questions answered:


And the Most Frequently Asked Question:
What is a Ukelin?

"Ukelin" is the name of a bowed stringed musical instrument which combines the Hawaiian ukulele (uke) with the violin (lin). Other names encountered include the Violin Uke and Hawaiian Art Violin. Manufactured and sold from the 1920's until 1972, it is the product of a musical-gadget minded time, when instrument inventors and manufacturers raced to outdo one another with cross-bred instrument novelties and musical monstrosities.

Ukelins have two levels of strings. The first set of sixteen strings, played with a short violin-like bow, is tuned to the scale of C (from middle C on a piano to the C two octaves above, in the key of G for the violin uke). This set fans out in a configuration also found in African instruments such as the thumb piano and the kora. Beneath these strings run four groups of four strings, each group tuned to a chord.

Decals are pasted beneath the strings, indicating the note the string should be tuned to. These decals also have numbers corresponding to a unique system of notation. Ornamental decals sometimes surround the sound hole as well.

Formally, it's a bowed psaltery with zither chords. It officially falls under the category "chord zither" listed in Musical Instruments: A Comprehensive Dictionary , Sibyl Marcuse, ©1964, Doubleday.

Ukelin shown above from the collection of Ron "Coog" Cook


What Does It Sound Like, And Why The Site?

The ukelin is a satisfying instrument to play, haunting to listen to, and a demon to tune.

Strike a ukelin string with a bow and immediately you're transported. Each eerie note lingers in the air. The resonance suggests cathedral-like vast spaces. Strings respond sympathetically, glistening highs and sonorous lows. The primitive bow on the metal strings sound familiar yet distant in time. This is why I fell in love with the ukelin.

And that is why I researched and created this site, because I believe in the humble ukelin. It has all but slipped through the cracks of modern music, and its' potential has yet to be measured. I'd encourage any and all past, present and future ukelin owners to explore, enjoy and revive this remarkable ghost of an instrument. The world would be a better place with one more ukelinist.



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Ukelin photo in upper left courtesy of Ulf Skogsbergh. http://www.ulf-photo.com

The information presented on this site represents my exhaustive search for ukelin information If you have anything to add to this site, or if you find any information in this site to be in error, please notify me at ukelins@hotmail.com.