The ukulele is a popular instrument that is easy-to-learn and fun to play! It can make virtually any song sound great and people love hearing their favorite tunes played on a ukulele. The small size of ukuleles also means they are very portable — making them the perfect option for taking camping or traveling.
But did you know there are many types of ukuleles? The largest ukulele is called a baritone ukulele. It is a great choice for anyone interested in a ukulele with a deeper and richer sound.
If the idea of a baritone ukulele sounds interesting, you have reached the right place. This guide will share all of the information you need to know about baritone ukuleles including where they came from and what materials they use. We’ll also share some of the best ukuleles on the market.
A (brief) history of the baritone ukulele
The ukulele was first created by instrument makers in Hawaii in the 19th-Century, to emulate the Portuguese machete — a small instrument used by Portuguese immigrants. “Ukulele” loosely translates to “jumping flea” in Hawaiian, which may be a reference to the quick finger movements of skilled ukulele players. The ukulele eventually became popular internationally and has been used by some very prominent musicians over the years.
The baritone ukulele was sold commercially sometime around 1950 in the United States. There are conflicting stories about who was responsible for the design of the baritone ukulele, with both Arthur Godfrey and Herk Favilla developing the instrument at different times.
Herk Favilla was an accomplished guitarist and luthier living in New York. According to Herk’s family, he designed the baritone ukulele to be a guitar-like instrument that made it easier for beginners to learn guitar. His baritone ukulele was larger than a ukulele, but smaller than a guitar. It came with 4 strings that were the same tuning as the bottom four strings of a guitar.
Herk began producing small numbers of baritone ukuleles in the 1940’s. By the late 1950’s he began selling them through the family guitar store, named Favilla Brothers.
Arthur Godfrey also developed a baritone ukulele around the same time. He was a well known guitarist and television star in the 1950’s who recorded with musicians including Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Godfrey asked Eddie Connor, a musician he knew, to design a larger bodied ukulele that had a lower pitch.
Connor developed a cutaway 4-string baritone ukulele with the same tuning as a guitar. Godfrey played it on television many times and it can be seen in the 1966 movie The Glass Bottom Boat. Connor’s version of the baritone ukulele was put into production in the late 1950s by the Vega Company of Boston, Massachusetts.
How do baritone ukuleles differ to other ukuleles?
The four most common types of ukuleles are soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. The main differences between each type of ukulele are: [Continue reading]