Dale and Phyllis Webb started the Magic Fluke Company in 1999 at the dawn of the current ukulele revival. Phyllis’s brother, the author and ukulele maven Jim Beloff
, was lamenting the fact that back then there were no affordable, well-made ukes. Dale, who was an engineer, took up the challenge and designed the first Fluke with it’s now iconic paddle-shaped body. From the beginning Webb’s designs were unique. The back and sides of the Fluke were formed from molded thermoplastic, a similar technique to that used on Ovation guitars. Another interesting feature is that the frets were molded into the fingerboard rather than installed separately. The original Flukes sounded great, with a sweet, sparkling tone and they were an immediate hit with the uke community. A few years after the introduction of the Fluke, the Webbs added the smaller, pineapple shaped Flea to the line and then the Firefly Banjo Ukulele.
These days Flukes are available in two sizes, the M20 Tenor
and the M10 Concert
; there are two Fleas, the M30 Soprano
and the M40 Concert
; and three Fireflys, the M70 Tenor
, the M90 Concert
and M80 Soprano
. Recently, Dale Webb has moved away from uke design and developed the Timber, a remarkable short scale, solid body tiny electric bass. The Timber Bass
has the familiar paddle shaped body, a 21.5” scale length and a Shadow under-saddle pickup. Unlike the Flukes and the Fleas, the Timber features an all-wood construction. We are very impressed with the rich, rumbling tone the diminutive Timber produces. This is a great bass for traveling musicians or for someone who doesn’t want to lug a heavy full-size instrument to a jam session.
The first Magic Fluke workshop was a repurposed gas station but the Webbs and their crew now work out of a solar powered facility in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Almost all of the wood used in building the instruments is locally sourced, except for koa, which, of course, comes from Hawaii. These days there is a lot more competition in the uke world, but Flukes and Fleas still offer an excellent value. The thermoplastic construction technique is quite durable and is a good choice for children, who can sometimes be a bit rough on instruments, or adults looking for a durable travel instrument. And they sound great, come in a wide range of colors and are easy to play. What more could you ask for?