Ephemera: Banjo & Doggo (1890s)

Looks like a Buckbee pony banjo. I'm loving how the dog gets to sit on the chair while the entertainment stands. Ever been at a gig where you felt that way? Heh, heh -- sorry.

Ephemera: Tamburitza Wedding (1920s)

What's better than a wedding (I'm guessing?) complete with tamburitza orchestra? Oh, I'd love to have one of those basses...


Ephemera: Halt! This is a uke-up! (1920s)

I've never been stopped in the road by a lady brandishing a jo-uke before, but I guess there's a first time for everything.

Ephemera: Honky-Tonkies (1955)

So much nice gear on stage it'd make a vintage-lover swoon! The eBay seller who posted this provided the other important info: shot in Chester County, PA. Wonder who they are?

1920s British-made Windsor Whirle Banjo Ukulele

This Windsor Whirle ("Whirlie") is a great-looking uke and would've probably been fairly up the food-chain when it was made. Testament to this are the soft, integral arm rest, gold-plated hardware, and nice fittings. It's an 8" rim which puts it solidly in the realm of "professional size" jo-ukes, though the scale is standard 13" soprano which lets it tune from standard GCEA up to ADF#B without trouble. The neck is very slender and fast (like a modern uke) which lets all those closed-position sliding chords "get done" nice and easy.

Work included a refret, cleaning, new bridge, new nut, and general setup with Martin fluoro strings. It plays spot-on and is in good health. I also modified the neck-to-pot join method which added better rigidity and stability there.

1930s Regal-made June Days Banjo Ukulele

Even though this bears a "JR Stewart" decal at the top of the headstock, I'm almost certain Regal made this banjo uke for them. It's a "California style" or "inline head" rim which lacks hooks on the edge of the rim and instead uses screws to apply tension to the head. This lightens-up the build and gives it more of a "uke" feel when playing it. For fun, here's a "June Days" soprano uke.

Work included a refret, new tuners, new tension screws for the rim, new (old) bridge, reglue to a bit of the resonator/back seam, cleaning, and setup with new Martin fluoro strings. I usually don't refret banjo ukes if I can help it, but the frets were all of slightly different size and set improperly in the neck so it was easier than pulling the originals and reseating them correctly. It plays well and has a good, smooth feel -- action is 1/16" at the 12th fret (just where it should be). I (personally) like it tuned up ADF#B due to the shorter (13") scale length and small pot, but GCEA sounds nice as well. ADF#B is what most ukes used when this was made.


Correspondence Catchup

If you're waiting on a response via email or phone -- please be patient a little longer. I've read it all, but because of how busy this time of year can be, it all looks like a tidal wave looming in front of me at the moment. I will get back to you -- and if I don't, please send word again.


1941 Gibson L-30 Carved-top Archtop Guitar

Who doesn't love old Gibson carved-tops? This one came late in the game for the L-30 model and has a factory order number that places it at 1941. Hello, war! At any rate, these L-30s are pretty hip creations with the famous "L-00" body shape and sporting a carved (rather than pressed) top and flat back. With 3 1/2" side depth and the tight-waisted, sexy shape, these handle extremely easily and "fit like a glove" in the lap.

Like I said, the top is carved solid spruce and the back and sides are solid maple (plain Jane, though). The neck is a medium C-profile mahogany number with a Brazilian rosewood board. I really like 40s Gibsons because (more or less) right after the late 30s batches they went to a C-shaped neck that's much more comfortable for the average player. This neck is even a little bit thinner front/back than your average 40s Gibson and it really feels more like a mid-late 50s one on the left hand. I was pleasantly surprised at that!


1958 Martin 0-18 Flattop Guitar

Can't argue about a pretty old 0-18! This one lacks any cracks in the top and back and is in rather good "player's" shape -- excusing a few filled-in jack-holes on the treble side. I have to admit that I have a fondness for 50s Martins as they seem to toe the line between underbuilt for uber-tone and slightly bulked-up to handle wear over time. After work this one is a joy for the left-hand and has that mid-rangey, tight chordal sound I associate with 0-size 14-fret Martins. If you fingerpick, these are gorgeous recording machines, too, as they don't muddy-up anywhere on the neck.

Work included a fret level/dress, pin hole fill/redrill, cleaning, bridge and saddle adjustment, and setup. Action is 1/16" treble and 3/32" bass at the 12th fret and the neck is nice and straight. The original frets were fairly pitted so the frets are leveled lower than stock. I still think it's good for one or two more level/dressings before replacement, however. Good to go...

1930s Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-11 Flattop Guitar

With a squashed-00 size, Gibson 24 3/4" scale, and 14-fret neck joint, these KG-11s make a perfect "cozy on the couch" guitar while also having plenty of volume and tone for a jam. They've become very popular guitars these days and their sound suits fingerpickers, especially, while also being able to hop around in old-time, early country, and blues genres quite easily.

This particular guitar lacks a factory order number inside so I can't for sure date it, but the small sunburst finish and general style makes me assume 1933-1935 production -- which is a little earlier-on. This guitar is (amazingly) crack-free and the finish is in overall great shape, though it does have the usual pickwear around the soundhole that these non-pickguard KG-11s tend to have. Everything is original equipment on the guitar save the strings and new bone saddle.


Workshop Note #5

Perhaps it's crazy to be excited about having an order in for an extra decent mic stand and quality cables?

Part of what I've found about doing hands-on work 24/7 is that it's really nice to have proper tools. The same goes for the recording side of things, too.

Don't even get me into talking about having nice instrument-tools. We all know that's an economic juggernaut of temptation!