BY GREG OLWELL | FROM THE SPRING 2018 ISSUE OF UKULELE

When it comes to ukuleles, many things can be directly thought of as accessories, from clip-on tuners to decorative straps. When we were brainstorming ideas for strings and accessories, the list quickly got really long. Given how many ukulele players like to festoon their world with uke-related items, there are mountains of goodies that can tickle the fancy of a uke-maniac.

vintage uke catalog harmonyOne favorite is collecting old catalogs. Online auction and sale sites are two great ways to find vintage catalogs. Search for “catalog” on Reverb.com’s or eBay’s accessories section and hundreds will pop up. From genuine vintage catalogs to contemporary reprints, these catalogs transport us to the time and place when they were printed.


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Another great way to find them is to keep an eye out at estate sales and garage sales. The catalogs seen here came from an estate sale of a closed family-owned music store in Oakland, California. These time-capsule Harmony and Kay catalogs were found tucked among accordion catalogs in a funky old filing cabinet and were clearly untouched since some store employee stashed them in the ’60s. From insanely low original prices for some now valuable ukuleles, to wonderful graphic design work in the catalogs, to the purple prose extolling the virtues of the construction and tone of a company’s ukuleles, these vintage sales materials for instruments are fun, informative, and inspiring. 

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