National launched its first ukulele in 1927, combining a brass-bodied, nickel-plated uke with the sweet-sounding amplification of a resonator cone. Plenty of vintage-uke fans see those rare National (and subsequent Dobro) ukes as the embodiment of the Hawaiian music craze of the early 20th century and the coinciding blossoming age of guitar inventions.
Yes, it’s dang cute, but it’s much more than just a pretty face. Republic’s Style #601 combines vintage style and an ideal price with playability and tone that are tough to top.
The imported 10.75″-body concert uke is made of bell brass with a beautifully done polished-nickel finish. The cover plate (with holes drilled in diamond formations) conceals a spun aluminum Continental cone topped by a rosewood biscuit and bridge. The mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard is crowned by a stylish Republic shield. There are 12 frets to the body with a 14.5″ scale and 1.375″ nut.
Strum those strings for an instant uke tone singing of palm fronds gently swaying in a sweet Aloha Island breeze to the soft lap of waves. But you also get volume; the cone amplifies its voice with sublime subtlety and adds an articulate clarity – the stuff of dreams for many wood and resonator ukes.
Republic also offers a brass finish for the Style #604, the spruce-bodied #605, and a larger tenor uke in the same spruce as the #603. Whichever way you roll, the Republic resonator uke is a beaut that will be a desirable addition to anyone’s collection.
This article originally appeared in VG May 2018 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.