Ukelin is a trade name for an instrument that was patented in the 1920’s. Paul Richter is credited with it's creation in 1923. It was described as ‘primarily a bowed psaltery combined with a small palate of chords that can be strummed with the left hand’. It had two sets of strings and required a skilled musician to coordinate its playing.
The Ukelin has intricate and decorative designs on its surface. Although its name suggests it is a combination of a ukulele and a violin, the Ukelin is much closer to a violin in its characteristics.
Ukelins were sold door to door throughout the rural areas. The salesman would do a quick demonstration of a simple tune to convince a potential buyer of the ease of learning to play it. The Ukelin came with instructions and sheet music. In reality, the instrument proved quite challenging to play and as a result its popularity declined.
The Middleville and District Museum has the King family Ukelin on display in the Music Exhibit. Be sure to have a close look at this rare instrument next season.
Listen to: Amazing Grace played on the Ukelin
This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.