The Beatles Mastro guitars/ukuleles | Beatles memorabilia
Updated: Feb 19
What happened the day after The Beatles' Ed Sullivan Show debut? All the young lads across America met their buddies at lunch and excitedly talked about learning to play guitar! Where could they learn chords? Where do they find such instruments? Coincidently, their own 'Beatles Guitar' was already in the works!
Mastro Industries manufactured five different Beatles guitars/ukuleles - plus variations and display models in the U.S. in the Sixties (the Selcol company produced seven other Beatles guitars in the U.K.) Also manufactured about this time was an unlicensed 5" model made in Hong Kong
Beatle-ist – 30½"
Yeah Yeah – 22"
Four Pop – 21"
Beatles Jr. – 14¼"
Mini - 5½"
"In March of 1964, Maestro Industries, Inc. introduced the Beatles line at the Toy Show in New York. This line included four-string guitars, six-string guitars, plastic bongo drums, and plastic banjos. In 1965, the available line of plastic instruments included various guitars, ukuleles, wind instruments, and percussion instruments, and productions and introductions of new variations continued for a few years thereafter." - French American Reeds, Inc. - History (2020).
Mass-produced by Mastro in 1964, the 'Beatle-ist' plastic six-string guitar was pink and burgundy, 30½" long, and covered with the band's faces, names, and autographs on the front of the body. The front of this version read "The BEATLES – Beatle-ist Guitar," shrink-wrapped and packaged on a backing card with a pick, instruction booklet, and a strap. The instrument came with three colored nylon and three wound strings, labeled in Mastro's catalog as "No. 340." They were packaged six to a shipping box as a 21" x32" x12" unit weighing 18 lbs. Mastro also produced another version in orange and burgundy. There was an advertised promo version "with highlighted faces," but one hasn't turned up yet.
Another guitar produced by Mastro was the 'Yeah Yeah' six-string guitar. It was red and burgundy, 22" long, and came with the Beatles' title, faces, and autographs on the body (their faces on the crown.) Earlier promotional versions had the faces printed "highlighted" on a white background. Initially sold shrink-wrapped to a sealed backing card with a pick and instruction booklet, the original retail price doubled that of the "Four Pop" ukulele. The instrument came with six nylon-colored strings and was labeled in Mastro's catalog as "No. 330." They were packaged twelve to a shipping box as a 17" x16" x24" unit weighing 14 lbs.
Another design by Mastro was the 'Four Pop' four-string plastic guitar/ukulele. It was 21" long with a red and pink body, three colored nylon strings, and one wound string. This version also came in orange and red. It had the band's faces on the front and guitar head and autographs on the body, and it came shrink-wrapped on a backing board with a red toy pick, an instruction/songbook, and a strap with "Made in the U.S.A. Under License" printed in black. Some designs included "Four Pop" or "FOUR POP" written on the body. A scarce promo version of the 'Four Pop' guitar exists. It had a red body and a burgundy neck with Beatles images on the headstock. This design was sold in shops for a short period before they switched to the more familiar red body and pink neck style. The "Four Pop" was labeled in Mastro's catalog as "No. 320" and packaged twelve to a shipping box as a 16" x16" x23" unit weighing 14 lbs.
"We made so many ukuleles and the Ringo bongo drum. The ukulele had pictures of the Beatles' four heads on the top. That period was something else. We sold so many instruments." - Maria Maccaferri (The Ukulele Occasional)
The 'Junior' four-string (3 colored nylon and one wound string) plastic guitar/ukulele was 14¼" in length. It came in three color combinations. One version was pink and burgundy, with another being orange and red (with a small and large graphic of Beatles pictured on the body and crown/head with a 9¾" scale). A third version was a red and maroon promotional display version.
The item had "Jr. Guitar" printed on the front, was packaged on a colorful sealed backing card/board, and included a pick and an instruction booklet/songbook with "Made in U.S.A. Under License" printed in black. There were two variations: the headshots were small, and the other headshots were more significant. The "Junior" was labeled in Mastro's catalog as "No. 300" and packaged twenty-four to a shipping box as a 16" x11" x16" unit weighing 26 lbs.
"Because of the plastic used [they had] developed a kind of partnership with Dow Chemicals in order to find the best "resonating" polystyrene. The best one they called "Styron." All the ukes were made in Styron.” - Antoine Carolus (UkeHeidi)
Mastro also made “Pin-Up” guitar brooches. Each of these measured 5½” in length. These little plastic pink guitars (with two rubber bands as ‘strings’) were produced with a small hook in the back (lapel clip) for fans to wear as pins. Mastro made two slightly different versions, one with a blue silkscreen-type print and one with dark pink. They had Beatle faces and first-name autographs on the front. The display card for the pins measured 10”x10” and held 12 guitars. It also had a Beatle image on it. There were also some shipping boxes that you could transform/fold into a countertop display.
The NEMS agreement was with Selcol Products Limited, 114-116, Charing Cross Road, London, W. C. 2. The date of the agreement for the manufacturing license was December 16, 1963, for the 'different types of guitars.' Selcol then sub-licensed the guitars to Mastro in the U.S. for manufacturing. Selcol, in the U.K., was an associate company of The Selmer Company, which made plastic toys and garden furniture. In 1968, Selcol Plastics closed.