|The Maccaferri "Islander" Ukulele - Patents Pending|
Let's begin with the Maccaferri ukulele... I love this story...
Born in 1900 in Cento Italy, Mario Maccaferri trained as a luthier under the esteemed Luigi Mozzani. With studies complete, Mario spread his wings and toured Europe as a classical guitarist. He finally settled in London in 1929 joining the Selmer Company to help them to manufacture guitars. His most famous invention for Selmer became simply known as the Selmer Guitar (aka "the Maccaferri") made famous by Django Reinhardt. By 1935 the Selmer dream had soured and after a short stint touring with his guitar, Mario founded the French-American Reed Manufacturing Company making reeds for saxophones and clarinets. The outbreak of war lead to difficulty for the company as the main source of reed from the south of France was cut off. But fear not: Ever the entrepreneur, Mario perfected a method of producing "Maccaferri Futurity" plastic reeds which opened the doors to a successful career in plastic injection-molding. This success saw him drop out of instrument-making altogether until the 1950s when he returned with a vengeance; His first instruments were plastic guitars which didn't take on. His plastic ukuleles on the other hand were an overnight success!
The legend goes that American television presenter and ukateer Arthur Godfrey was doing a show where he was giving ukulele lessons. Having played a Maccaferri uke on air he then went on to endorse it saying he thought it was a sturdy instrument with a good voice, and a good price. By the end of that week Maccaferri was sitting on orders for 58,000 ukes. Kerching!
Time for some photos. This jumps all over the place... enjoy...
|Wayne Federman Electric Ukulele Pioneer|
Mike tells me that his obsession with ukuleles started after seeing a
stand-up comedian called Wayne Federman do a skit where he blasted
out Purple Haze on a tiny soprano uke. He instantly fell in love
with the irony and novelty of it. Brilliant! The above video
may well be the one that 'turned' Mike!
|I've wanted to include this in a post for a long time now. Above is a|
picture of a ukulele that you can't buy unfortunately. It was the object
of a Kickstarter project by Scott Seelye where he was trying to get
funding to manufacture a run of plastic ukuleles. He didn't get close
to his target which is a real shame. I bet the one in the photo is
worth a few bob! ;-)
|Finally, here's one for all you sync-heads out there. Whilst researching this |
post I stumbled across ChordMaster.org which is a brilliant site that pays
tribute to (and probably sells) Chord Masters. I noticed that it is part of
the Boat Paddle Top 50 Ukulele Sites as is the Ukulele Blog. I couldn't
remember the name, so I went to see where it ranked. It's currently sat
at 110 and looks pretty new. Do you see who is at 109? Argapa Ukuleles.
I'm currently in contact with the hugely talented Sven Nyström of Argapa
Ukuleles and hope to be bringing you a post on him and his work soon!
"It's a small world and it's made of ukulele!"
One last thing. Having written all this up I've just discovered yet another page paying homage to the Islander. If you want to find out more I urge you to check out Ukester Brown's "Maccaferri and his Islanders" for some great words and pictures.
One more finally...
Thanks Mike for teaching me so much about the Maccaferri! I'm sure you have much more to teach me! Would you believe it if I was to tell you that there has even been talk of a Mike Simpson/King Uke musical collaboration some time in the future. I can't keep up with all these side projects! Ha ha... wish me luck...
Hold on a second! I forgot to include the picture that started this whole Maccaferri thing off! Both Mike and I spent a long time examining the snap below. I was horrified that someone would do this to a uke... wouldn't the water damage the wood? Mike calmed me down and revealed that it looked like a Maccaferri! And apparently she's wearing red shoes too! What a great set of eyes Mike has on him!
|Is this a Maccaferri being modelled in the bubbles?|
Photo courtesy of Wellington Ukulele and Peace Company
(Have I ever told you how much I love New Zealand?)
If you liked this post then you might be interested to read part 2.