In our relentless pursuit of strange and unusual tone for cigar box guitars and other instruments, we were floored when we tripped over this little piece of history:  The Echo Uke featuring the Ukulele Echo Device from the 1920's.

"Echo Uke" was a brand name of the Hawaiian Mahogany Company, a Honolulu ukulele manufacturer in the 1920s. Their ukuleles were sold in Hawaii as well as distributed on the mainland. Jules M. Sahlein of San Francisco sold Echo Ukes under the Y'Ke'Ke brand name and Schireson Brothers of Los Angeles sold them under the Mai Kai brand.

Some Echo Ukes include a special device apparently intended to add to the instrument's tone. This "Echo Device" was one or two strips of thin metal attached to the inside of the top of ukulele directly opposite to where the bridge is mounted.
Note: This is the same philosophy used by Ozark guitar builder, Ed Stilley when he placed springs and metal objects inside the guitar bodies.  See our article about Stilley here for more info.

The photograph above shows the echo device on a piece of the top from a badly damaged Y'Ke'Ke Echo Uke. The top and bottom photographs on the right are from a concert-sized Echo Uke and a soprano "Pele" model Echo Uke. These photos were taken by laying a small mirror inside of the ukuleles and catching the echo device's reflection through the ukulele's soundhole.

The labels of some Echo Ukes contain the claim "Echo Device Patented" but they list no patent number. Searches at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have yet to locate the patent.


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I used sections from an old bandsaw blade that I thinned down with my sander to make my tines. I thought mounting them on the underside of the top, the end block and the back (like the original design) gave the best sound. Every box is going to sound different and you may need to experiment with different tines and placement ideas to find what sounds best for you. Gitty's should work, other sources include tines from old metal rakes, bandsaw and coping saw blades, street cleaner brush tines, electricians snake (fish tape), windshield wiper blade cores, bobby pins, etc. Spring steel is best in my opinion.

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