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NMM 10926.  Ukulele by French American Reeds Manufacturing Company (Mario Maccaferri),
New York, 1951. Islander Uke Combination.
Arne B. Larson Estate (Vermillion, South Dakota), 1988.

Note:  Click on any image below to see a larger image.

Front of ukulele Bass side of ukulele Backukulele

The Islander Uke was the first of Mario Maccaferri's Styron (plastic) stringed instruments. This example was purchased new by Arne B. Larson (who lived in Brookings, South Dakota, at that time) from Grossman Music Corporation, Cincinnati, Ohio, and shipped directly from the factory in 1951, two years after the model was introduced. The Islander Uke was sold individually or as part of an Islander Uke Combination that included the Chord Master (a device attached to the neck with rubber bands, which automatically stopped chords with the press of a button). The Islander Uke received an early boost from Arthur Godfrey, a radio and television star who sometimes played ukulele on his shows. Godfrey referred to the Islander as a "very good instrument that costs only $5.95," causing demand for the instrument to flourish, particularly among amateurs who wanted to participate in the craze for Hawaiian music with a minimal investment of money and practice time. In 1953, Macceferri followed up on the simply made Islander with more sophisticated Styron guitars that he intended to be high quality, affordable substitutes for wooden instruments.


Front of peghead

Inscriptions:  Printed in brown ink on head: [figure of hula-girl] / ISLANDER / PATENTS PEND. / [Crown over shield divided into four sections: the upper right corner with M; the lower right corner with eighth note, sixteenth note, and thirty--second note; a reed placed diagonally through other two corners; with banner below reading SUMMUS PERSTO] / DESIGNED BY / MACCAFERRI
Remains of label on upper bass bout of top, originally reading STYRON (most of label missing).

Shield on peghead

Front and Back of Body

Front of body Back of body



Body:  Soundboard:  ivory Styron. Back:  dark red and black marbleized (Rosewood) Styron. Ribs:  dark red and black marbleized (Rosewood) Styron; integral with back. Head:  dark red and black marbleized (Rosewood) Styron with ivory Styron face. Neck:  dark red and black marbleized (Rosewood) Styron; integral with head and body. Inlay:  Rosette:  black Styron ring. Bridge:  dark red-and-black marbleized Styron with ivory (Rosewood) Styron saddle; string balls fit into recesses at end of bridge. Interior:  Linings:  none. Neck block:  none. End block:  none. Top bracing:  8 spruce fan braces integral with top.


Back of body

Fingerboard:  white, dark red, and black marbleized (Rosewood) Styron; 13 silver Styron frets (including one at nut); silver Styron dots behind 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, and 12th frets, gradually smaller toward high end of fingerboard. Trim:  Nut:  white, dark red, and black marbleized (Rosewood) Styron. Tuners:  four nickel-plated steel tension tuners with ivory Styron heads. Pick guard:  none.

Trim:  Heel cap:  none; injection molding mark on back of neck heel (click on neck heel image at right to see a larger image).

Neck heel


Chord Master attached to neck

The Chord Master and Its Original Box

Side of Chord Master Front of Chord Master Side of box

Front of original box for Maccaferri's uke Chord Master

Accessories:  Chord Master (ivory and dark-red styron) in original box, included as part of the Islander Uke Combination from Grossman Music Corporation. Gray felt pick. Islander key (tension tuner) adjuster on card, originally attached to lower treble peg. Chordmaster song book. Islander care sheet. Islander Uke Self-Teaching Method. Four original strings on ukulele: clear nylon A, E, and G; silver-plated, copper-overspun C.

Measurements:  Total ukulele length:  532 mm (20-15/16″)
Back length:  235 mm (9-1/4″)
Upper bout width:  124 mm (4-7/8″)
Waist width:  96 mm (3-25/32″)
Lower bout width:  160 mm (6-5/16″)
Rib height (including edging) at heel:  51 mm (2″)
Rib height, at waist:  51 mm (2″)
Rib height, at end block:  51 mm (2″)
Head length:  119 mm (4-11/16″)
Head width, top:  62 mm (2-7/16″)
Head width, bottom:  45 mm (1-25/32″)
Neck length (nut to ribs):  177 mm (6-31/32″)
Neck width, nut:  35 mm (1-3/8″)
Neck width, heel:  46 mm (1-13/16″)
Soundhole length:  42 mm (1-21/32″)
Vibrating string length (nut to bridge edge):  350 mm (13-25/32″)

Return to Checklist of Stringed Instruments Made by Maccaferri

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Most recent update: December 9, 2013

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