Arts & Entertainment

Ukulele World Record Quest In Calif. Comes Up Short

Ukulele players tried to break the Guinness World Record for largest ukulele ensemble on Sunday. The current record, set during a London festival in 2009, is 851 strumming ukes.

Ukulele fans in San Francisco fell short in their quest to beat the Guinness World Record for largest ukulele ensemble.

After a screening of the documentary The Mighty Uke: The Amazing Comeback of a Musical Underdog at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, most of the attendees picked up their own little instruments in an attempt to break the record, set by 851 strummers at the London Ukulele Festival in 2009.

In the end, just over 500 participated Sunday at the Castro Theatre, including ukulele clubs from across the San Francisco Bay Area and even elementary school students.

Missing the record didn't upset the happy players much, said Jayme Kelly Curtis, a member of the Santa Cruz Ukulele Club.

She said the record is really an excuse to prove there are a lot more ukulele players out there than there used to be.

"I can't tell you what it feels like to be in a room full of all these people and resonating together in music. This seems to be a lot of what the ukulele groundswell is all about," Curtis said.

The first Guinness record for largest ukulele ensemble was set in 2005 with just 125 participants in San Diego.

Below, video of the 2009 record-setting ensemble in London: Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit