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The UkuleleA History$
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Jim Tranquada and John King

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835446

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835446.001.0001

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Made of a New Gleaming Plastic Material

Made of a New Gleaming Plastic Material

(p.136) Chapter 8 Made of a New Gleaming Plastic Material
The Ukulele

Jim Tranquada

John King

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter discusses the ʻukulele's revival during an era of innovation in the chemical industry, specifically the development of new synthetic polymers. An endless procession of new plastic products emerged from wartime research, including ʻukuleles and other musical instruments. However, unlike in the jazz era when the ʻukulele was an adolescent fad, the chief market for the instrument in the 1950s was children—who accounted for up to 90 percent of sales, according to one contemporary estimate. Plastic ʻukuleles, which made up the vast majority of instruments made during this decade, helped define the instrument for baby boomers as a toy—a reputation it still struggles to overcome today.

Keywords:   ʻukulele, synthetic polymers, plastic, plastic ʻukuleles

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