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The Ukelin is one of the strangest instruments ever invented. The name suggests it’s a cross between a ukulele and a violin, but it’s closer to a zither and a violin. Although rather than being a ‘cross’ it’s actually two instruments stuck together and you’re supposed to play them both at the same time. Bowing with one hand and picking with the other.

The instrument was originally a door-to-door salesman scam and it was a very successful one. There are a huge number of these instruments around and you can often find many of them for sale on eBay at a price low enough to make it worth buying just for laughs.

One problem with the ukelin is the strings. If you can buy one with a full complement of strings, do that.

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  1. Brian July 17th, 2011 9:12 am

    I have an old (I think 1920’s because of a bunch of sheet music we have dated 1925. It’s in good condition but needs new strings. We’ve owned it for 35 years and it was originally owned by my wife’s uncle who served on a ship in World War 2. We’ve thought about selling it but we need some assistance as to price range and market. Is eBay a good start? I’ve not looked at ukelins there. This thing is an odd but cool. Thanks. Brian Van Alstyne

  2. Mark March 17th, 2012 6:35 pm

    I’ve recently bumped into the Ukelin.
    I think it is a pretty cool gizmo with a lot of potential.
    This is my first composition for it.

  3. Arthur L. Duell December 6th, 2012 11:17 pm

    The “ukelin” is a fun instrument to build and, certainly its tonal quality can be improved. I have one as a model. It is complete with the original set of strings—nothing is broken or warped. The attached note says it sells for $15 and that it was patented 6 April 1926 and sold by the International Musical Corp. I am doing like many other makers of the strange instrument and am altering its anatomy to suit my likes.

  4. Dan Newhart August 17th, 2013 4:43 am

    I need a bow for a UKLIN .

  5. George Paterson August 20th, 2013 6:40 pm

    I own a Ukelin in perfect shape. They were build and told door to door between 1926 and 1965. The first one was made in 1923, but it was not patented until April 6, 1926. I am looking for a bow, finger picks and music. If you run across any of these please let me know

  6. Eric Nyman November 7th, 2013 2:02 pm

    Dan Newhart: Ever consider making a bow? I saw a bunch of videos about playing “Musical Saw” where people show how to make a rudimentary bow.

  7. Tracey Merrill September 28th, 2015 4:52 am

    George Paterson, I found the following site to order the originial booklet that has music, tuning instructions, and how to play.

    Ukelin-type instruments were usually sold by door-to-door commission salesmen, often on a time-payment plan, and were intended for home music-making by persons without a formal musical education. Judging from the volume of inquiries received by the Division of Music, Sports and Entertainment they are not yet rare and frequently turn up in attics and second-hand stores. The International Music Corporation published an instruction booklet for the Ukelin, a complete copy of which is preserved in the files of the Division of Music, Sports and Entertainment. A photocopy of its 17 pages, which include playing and tuning instructions and 14 tunes, may be ordered for $5.00 from the Division of Music, Sports and Entertainment, National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, AHB 4127, MRC 616, Washington, DC 20013-7012 (please make your check or money order payable to the Smithsonian Institution).

  8. Olivier April 10th, 2016 5:53 pm

    I have found one and I would like to get new strings. One web site sells some but the price is enormous (in fact the strings are more expensive than the instrument). I was wondering if somebody know what kind of string I can put on it without buying the set…….

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