CITHARES, ZITHERS et UKELINS
Vintage Hawaiian Art
Violin or Ukelin
The Hawaiian Art Violin is technically a bowed psaltry but is more often known as a Ukelin. This instrument's Hawaiian name was simply added to make it more appealing to consumers in the 20s and 30s who were into the Hawaii craze.
Ukelins (and Ukelin-like instruments) were usually sold by door-to-door commission salesmen, often on a time-payment plan beginning in about 1923 until 1964, and were intended for home music-making by persons without a formal musical education. The instrument is meant to be placed on a table with the larger end toward the performer, and, while the right hand plays the melody on the treble strings with a violin bow, accompanying chords are played on the bass strings with the left hand using either the fingers or a pick. Each string and chord group is numbered, and sheet music is provided in a special numerical system intended to simplify playing for persons unable to read standard musical notation.
Like the many instruments of this family whose names contain references to Hawaii, there is nothing authentically Hawaiian about the "Hawaiian Art Violin". These were stamped out at the Oscar Schmidt factory in Jersey City, New Jersey, solely for the purpose of cashing in on the Hawaiian music craze that erupted in mainland America during the early 1920s. There are many varieties of the ukelin type- this ukelin-type Hawaiian Art Violin differs from the ukelin only in that the melody (bowed) strings pass through posts, as opposed to the ukelin's loops.