Inspired by Rock’n’Roll classics, our solid body electric ukuleles are made for the stage.
Exceptional quality and playability are our passions.
Owned by Brian and Mark Fanner (yes we’re brothers), we are a small family business based on the West Coast of South Africa with an office in Cape Town.
Having both spent too much time at university studying Law (Mark) and Industrial Design and Fine Art (Brian) we set up our business in 1997. At first we made finely tuned wind chimes for the European market and later picture frames from reclaimed timber which is still an important part of our business (www.lunadesigns.eu if you’re curious).
In 2000, motivated by Brian’s interest in the skills required to make a great sounding guitar, and nudged in the direction by a few friends, we started learning how to build electric guitars. It started with a couple of hobby builds for Brian who has been playing guitar since he was 10. We soon found a niche making guitars from oil cans, which is a childhood occupation for many African children. Ours are electrical and playable though, so much so that they have featured on many a stage and are owned by musical celebrities around the world. We’ve made over a thousand of these guitars to date.
In 2014 we started making our electric Ukulele’s – we figured they would be easier to take to an international market being smaller to ship and with a wider appeal than the oil can guitars. We were also tickled by the idea of making ukulele versions of classic rock guitars of the past.
Being based on the southern tip of Africa, and out in the countryside to boot, we have become expert in-sources. We pretty much make everything ourselves.
Our wood comes largely from our extensive stock of reclaimed timber on our farm. Gathered over the years, there is more than a thousand cubic meters of it, a fair percentage of which is valuable teak and other interesting woods. We hope that by using reclaimed timber we are reducing our environmental footprint.
Most of the spray painted bodies are made from Meranti or Douglas Fir which are lightweight yet stable with great acoustic properties. Maple, Wenge and special figured woods are bought in for projects.
Some hardware needs to be imported but much of it is designed by Brian and lazer cut in Cape Town. We polish the stainless steel ourselves.
The bodies are cut on a cnc machine and hand sanded, neck profiles are hand shaped.
Spray painting is also done in house and is one of the trickiest bits for us to get right. Temperatures on the farm can reach 45 degrees Celsius which means that much of the painting needs to be done at night when things have cooled down a touch. After spraying several coats the bodies and necks are hand sanded.
The pickups are hand wound using alnico pole magnets and potted in beeswax harvested from the hives on the farm.
Brian personally sets each ukulele up, he favours a low action but will accommodate customer requests.
Once finished the ukes are shipped from our office in Woodstock in Cape Town in bags that are again made locally. We cut the material and the stitching is done by a local woman in Cape Town and provides her with a useful extra income.
Our Etsy reviews speak for themselves as do the growing number of customers who have bought second and even third Fanner Ukuleles. Buying one of our Ukes is certain to extend your musical range and will gives you many years of enjoyment.
Thank you for reading our story 🙂
Brian and Mark Fanner.