A pineapple ukulele is shaped more like a pineapple than a guitar. It is not, despite some speculation, made of pineapple. The term pineapple simply refers to the shape.
This style of ukulele was developed by Samuel Kaialiilii Kamaka. He was well known as a maker of ukuleles and guitars in Hawaii. It was in the 1920s that he developed the idea for this particular style of ukulele. The name came from a friend who made a reference that the shape looked like a pineapple. Earlier designs were even painted to make them look like a pineapple. This new ukulele had a sound that was distinct from the traditional ukulele sound, resonant and mellow.
The design was patented by Kamaka in 1928. His patent for this style of ukulele is historic; it is the best known ukulele patent of all time. The patent allowed him to be the sole producer of both the shape and design of the ukulele for 14 years.
Today, his company, Kamaka Ukulele, Inc., still produces this style of pineapple. Many other ukulele manufactures have, of course, started producing their own versions since the patent expiration.
New ideas in ukulele design are nothing new, but few have the staying power of Kamaka's unique ukulele. When a ukulele design takes hold in the industry it creates new directions for the instrument. The impact of this new ukulele can hardly be overstated, although many people may not even realize just how it impacted the ukulele, and how people felt about the instrument.
The pineapple ukulele has helped change the sound of the ukulele. It helped players get a sound that was different and unique to the ukulele. In many cases, it helped encourage people to give the ukulele a try. Another aspect of this type of ukulele is that it really helped some people distinguish the sound of a ukulele from a guitar.
The traditional guitar shape often gave the ukulele a second rate status among people who knew nothing about the ukulele. With this new style the ukulele was taken more seriously, and people began to see it was an instrument unto its own right, not just a little guitar. This style of ukulele is often the one chosen to represent ukuleles in general in ads or other references.Return to Home Page