TABU Style 2 "Midget" Koa Ukulele - Hawaii c.1917
Pickup currently unavailable
Nowadays more commonly referred to as 'Sopaninos', these tiny ukes were actually called 'midget' ukuleles by the Hawaiian makers back in the day.
Despite being offered - at least as early as 1913 - by many of the Island makers, among them Anahu, Aloha, L.Nunes, Mossman & Kumalae, they simply rarely turn up.
Their diminutive size, 16" from top to bottom as compared to the 21" of a 'standard' soprano, doubtless has something to do with their scarcity - easily left behind, misplaced or sat on! We also believe these were simply not made in great numbers.
US Uke expert Tom Walsh agrees that these were not tourist 'trinkets' or cheap souvenirs, in hand, it displays clean inner linings, select Koa wood throughout & a build quality to the same standard of the makers listed above. The "professional-grade" barrel tuners are somewhat hilariously oversized, but they're plainly original. It was even given the TABU stamp (which was available to Island makers c.1916 by the Honolulu Ad Club as proof of Hawaiian manufacture).
We've not been able to pin down the maker of this uke. During this period, companies were popping up all over the Islands as demand grew for ukuleles, often those companies would disappear after a year or two.
Despite its tiny dimensions, it's actually a fully playable ukulele- albeit somewhat cramped beyond the 3rd fret, and sounds fine tuned up to C6 or D6 with regular soprano strings.
This example remains in fantastic original condition, and is about as collectible as it gets when it comes to early Hawaiian ukuleles.
I'm not sure if cases were ever made for these ukes, so it resides in a whimsically oversized case for protection (probably for a charango).