1972 K Yusuma Tiple Ukulele

My Yasuma T20 Tiple

Kasuo Yasuma T20 Ten string Ukulele
K Yasuma 10 string Tiple Ukulele
Kasuo Yasuma T20 Tiple Ukulele
Martin T28 Tiple at Lardy's Ukulele Database

the Martin T-28 Tiple its copying

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It has steel strings and is tuned A~a~d~D~d~f#~F#~f#~B~B

except I loosen all of the strings when its not being played. Being in tune puts a lot of strain on the bridge

K Yasuma & Co. Tiple Ukulele

The Tiple Ukulele is an uncommon hybrid chordophone between a 12 string Columbian Tiple and a Taropatch. It was invented in 1919 when the music Publisher / Instrument Distributor Wm. J Smith & Co. asked Martin to try and make one. It is lost in the mists of time now exactly what was asked for but what Martin produced was the 10 string 17in (43cm) scale Tiple Ukulele. The idea caught on in the 20's because most of the big mainland makers had a go at making them and most of the big distributors also included one under one of their brand names But they were/are a bugger to tune and rather disappeared in the 30's with only Martin continuing to make them. After the war when the Ukulele had another bout of popularity it didn't include the Tiple Ukulele, (as this wasn't really a Hawaiian variant), and the only new producer was the Japanese firm K Yasuma & Co.

Now Yasuma was an interesting firm because they really were a "Lawsuit Maker". Unlike the Gibson vs Fugigen thing which never went to court, Martin did take Yasuma to court and won, then had a lot of Yasuma's output destroyed for copyright infringement! Some say the real reason for Martin getting the hump wasn't that Yasuma copied them (which they did, just look at the headstock logo to start with), but that the Yasuma's were better. Better than a Martin? Now that is a reputation to live up to. So when this one came up I was very keen a] to have a go on a Tiple Ukulele and b] to see how good it is. The person I got it from bought it new in 1972 and had a repair shop give it a full going over before selling so it is in pretty perfect nick. A lot of the old ones you see are in a bad way where the bridge has failed due to the of the string tension, they have charm but are pretty much unplayable. This one I could do a gig with tomorrow, (if I ever started gigging)

Anyway to the reputation for being as good as a Martin? Well the build is immaculate, the quality of wood is triple A (at least) I wouldn't say its better than a Martin but I couldn't say the Martin is better than this. Its also surprisingly playable, I feared it would be a bit of a cheese grater on my soft nylon fingers but it isn't. True, its not for the beginner but its more forgiving than you would expect. I think because there are so many strings you can get away with not having all of them properly fretted and it still sounds very full.