aNueNue Signature Ukuleles: Ukulele Window Shopping

There’s a long history of ukulele makers putting famous people’s names on a ukulele in the hope of bumping sales from the Roy Smeck with Harmony and Arthur Godfrey with Vega to Jake Shimabukuro with Kamaka and Joe Brown with Kala. Connecting all these people is the fact that they are, or were, famous. aNueNue have gone down a different route and created signature ukuleles for people who, I think it’s safe to say, can safely walk down the street without constant boob-signing requests: Manitoba Hal, Gerald Ross, Steven Sproat and, most recently, The Re-entrants.

It’s an interesting tactic. As much as I like the Re-entrants, I’m not too keen on having a ukulele with either of their names emblazoned on it. With aNueNue being a new brand, I think the aim of it may be to increase awareness of them by associating them with some players well respected in the uke world rather than selling these particular ukes.

All of which raises a few questions for you to answer in the comments: Do these signature models make you more likely to buy an aNueNue? Who should aNueNue sign up? And, should aNueNue come a-knocking, what would your signature ukulele look like?

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  1. uke66 August 20th, 2010 10:14 pm

    From what I’ve seen & read. Ian Emmerson is no stranger to constant boob signing requests. ;)
    I’m still waiting for Mahalo to offer me a signature uke.

  2. Ron Hale August 20th, 2010 10:53 pm

    The people mentioned certainly know their ukuleles and with me it comes down to whether the artists and the company produce distinctive instruments, such that a say a Manitoba Hal uke is unlike any other uke, of course is good, is the only uke you can see him playing once it hits the market, and he talks it up everywhere. These particular artists are well enough known in ukulele circles that an introductory video will make a splash, especially if blogs show the videos.

    If this does catch on and aNueNue raises its profile, expect to see other makers jump on the bandwagon (Kala has a Marcy Marxer model coming this fall). I’m surprised it hasn’t happened more already. Victoria Vox is so closely associated with the Pineapple Sunday (what other artist do you regularly and often see playing one?) that it’s past time KoAloha let her design a uke of her own. Ami Worthen’s flame custom Pohaku is an artist model in all but name and could have her name offically put on it.

    Perhaps the low-key nature of the instrument and its players (most of them anyway)has kept this sort of thing to a minimum so far. But all that is bound to change as the ukulele becomes bigger. Then once it does take off it will do so with a vengeance. Eventually there will be so many artist models that the uniqueness of these instruments will suffer, right along with their sales and things will sort themselves out.
    Guitar signature models have hit that point, in fact Martin signature models alone have hit that point.

    Who should be signed-up? Not just aNueNue, but somebody could sign people like Julia Nunes, Molly Lewis, Never Say Never, Dent May, and other young people who bring new people to the instrument. A Gugug model, UOGB-approved models… So many possibilities, some cynics might say too many possibilities at this early stage of this phenomenon. A Taimane model, Brittni model…

    Buyers of my uke would be allowed to have any name emblazoned onto the fretboard. Don’t like your own name, well then have ‘CRAIG’ on your instrument. The uke would come with the hat of your choice – high time to bring hats into ukulele shops for one-stop shopping. Best of all, it wouLd be kazoo-proof – play one near the uke and the uke explodes.
    High time for that, too, and this wouldn’t necessarily need to be spelled-out to buyers in advance, either.

  3. karl August 21st, 2010 7:16 pm

    Hey, Dan Zanes had a Flea with his name on a few years ago (twice)!

    Anuenue make great cases too (I’ve got the apple green alligator one).

    The older endorsers (Smeck, Wendell Hall) also had little name outside the ukers communities of their days, aside from Godfrey&Formby.

    And there are lots of ways of endorsing: putting your name up front in big letters or just on the inside label, playing it yourself or not (did Smeck play ‘his’ ukuleles?), doing it with a ‘decent enough’ ukulele or one with extraordinary design (think vita uke).

    As a sales strategy, it’s been working for the guitar brands for years – try listing al the Eric Clapton Martins, Fenders and Gibsons and you’ll have a whole arsenal. But even for ‘guitarists’ guitarists’ it works quite well – so why not try it with ukuleles?

  4. Gary Peare August 21st, 2010 9:16 pm

    I already have a Gary Peare signature model. It is a Style 3M made in the 1920s by Martin. I am, however, still waiting for them to deliver it to me. It’s been 80+ years, but I’m a patient guy.

  5. Jimmy August 21st, 2010 11:26 pm

    I’ve been looking into getting a soprano maybe and Steven’s quite a cool guy so I thought if I’d ever get a signature anything it’d be a proper nice one like that. I dunno. It’s good they’ve gone for proper ‘cool’ ukulele players rather than big stars, and probably smart for business as it raises awareness without as much money. If I didn’t already know about aNueNue I would’ve learnt from Sproat’s website.
    And my signature uke would have a gameboy taped to it.

  6. Rob NY August 22nd, 2010 1:47 am

    A signature that would influence me to purchase a ukulele would be collectible and out of my reach. think George Harrison. Or maybe, a venerable virtuoso like Herb Ohta sr. As you said, aNueNue seems to be appealing to the uke world. Names like Elvis Costello, Eddie Vedder, Billy Corgan,would have broader appeal to the general public. If aNueNue came a-knockin I would realize someone was playing a cruel joke.

  7. Woodshed August 23rd, 2010 3:41 pm

    uke66: Living in Derby, I can say the percentage of girls with ‘Ian Emmerson’ written on their boobs is lower than it should be.

    Ron: I think there were rumours that Bushman were going to make a Julia Nunes uke – but I think that went by-the-by and she’s with Kala now. I think a NeverShoutNever uke would sell well. I don’t know if it’s a formal endorsement but he plays Kala as well.

    karl: Good point about the different types of signature ukes.

    Gary: I’m sure it’s in the mail.

    Jimmy: Gameboy? I think my grandad had one of those.

    Rob: It would be interesting to see how people already playing uke reacted to a guitar player’s signature uke. I guess Joe Brown is sort of in that league – although he seems to be best known for I’ll See You… these days.

  8. Ian Emmerson August 23rd, 2010 9:05 pm

    I want it on record that both Phil and me have signed several boobs – proper women’s ones and everything. You can never sign enough women’s boobs though.

    I love boobs, me.

    I x

  9. uke66 August 23rd, 2010 11:02 pm

    @Woodshed. Ok then, Since you have obviously carried out extensive research, what have the majority of girls from Derby got written on their boobs if not an Ian & Phil moniker? ;) Fes up !

  10. Chuck Wilson November 19th, 2010 1:52 pm

    You missed another AnueNue signature uke. I recently got a Gerald Ross tenor from Elderly (on sale). It is a spectacular ukulele. The neck is the smoothest playing ukulele I have ever handled, and I have fondled 100’s of ukes. A friend, who is a better player than me, remarked how fast the neck is. The neck width is a hair short of 1.5 inches, which fits my hand well. Although it is a laminate koa body, the sound is big and bright, especially after I installed a set of low G Aquilas. Fit and finish is perfect. I also have an AnuNue long neck soprano, which is also a keeper.

  11. Woodshed November 19th, 2010 4:24 pm

    Chuck: Thanks for the review.

  12. micki February 4th, 2013 12:14 am

    I have a Gerald Ross signature Tenor. It has a very nice light touch on the frets, not a loud uke but sweet, and pleasant to the ear. Stays in tune all the way up the fret board. Enjoyable to play.

  13. Woodshed February 4th, 2013 8:38 am

    micki: Thanks. Good to know.

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