By Rieva Lesonsky

Teens, by their sheer numbers and herd mentality, often drive trends. And according to CNNMoney, they are responsible for a surge of ukulele sales. Yes, ukulele sales.

In fact, CNNMoney reports ukulele sales are “on fire,” and small music shops across the country are celebrating. The National Association of Music Merchants says from 2010 to 2012 ukulele sales in America leapt from 581,000 to more than 1 million.

What’s the appeal? Apparently price and simplicity. Typically ukuleles cost less than guitars, and Tracy Leenman, owner of Musical Innovations, a music shop in South Carolina, told CNNMoney the instrument is “pretty much idiot-proof. Anyone can learn to play it in a short amount of time.”

A lot of the rekindled interest in the instrument is due to “ukulele wizard” Jake Shimabukuro, whom Rolling Stone calls a musical “hero” and who has topped the Billboard charts.

If you’re interested in this business, don’t forget the education market. Leenman recently sold “classroom sets” (30 instruments in a set) to several schools in her area.

Brian Winter, who owns Acoustic Music in Salt Lake City, doesn’t think this new interest in ukuleles is a fad. He told CNNMoney, “My definition of a fad is something that climbs, spikes and dies. This climbed, spiked and now it’s sustaining that same level.”

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+   and and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.