I purchased a Ukulele in Hilo, Hawaii about 4 years ago. That makes me the trendsetter in this instance. At NAMM this year Ukuleles were EVERYWHERE. I spoke to CEO Christian Frederick Martin IV, CEO of Martin Guitars about the phenomenon: "Isn't it incredible? This is the third time Martin has made ukuleles. The first time was in the teens and twenties, then again in the 50's after World War II. Now they are making a comeback." When asked his thoughts on the reason for the popularity, Mr. Martin speculated it was simply the accessibility of the instrument. "Paying a few hundred dollars for a guitar, you never know. But $100 for a Ukulele, you are pretty sure it's going to work out. It is something anyone can learn to play." While many major manufacturers featured the ukuleles, this was most apparent among the companies exporting instruments from Asia. Company after company had their offering for Ukuleles, including models featuring novel shapes, colors, and even recognizable characters for children, a la Sponge Bob and Dora.
"There are factories in Asia turning out thousands of ukuleles each month." Martin recounts. "Who knows how long this trend will last. I would love for someone to predict the end of the trend about a year in advance, so I know when to slow down production."
For now, it's full steam ahead for Martin, Asian Exporters, and more. Maybe I can catch the wave next time it rolls around- in about another 50 years.