12/20/2008

c.1920 Winner Banjo Ukulele


To continue on in the banjo theme... here's a very nice Winner banjo uke from c.1920 that I had the luck to sell to the heads of the Vermont Ukulele Society... and they luckily got the prize of the rack (at that moment in time)! This uke not only sounded great, polished up great, and had all of its original fittings (even the head tuning key!) save strings and bridge, but it also had interesting construction.


Lovely headstock with fun decal. This is a mahogany neck, methinks, with an ebony nut and original tuner pegs.


Plenty of frets to roam around on!


Original skin head, which is a Jos. B. Rogers type (infamous in old-time cults). The pot and rim are a fairly standard banjo-uke style of the time, but it's nicely spunover with a raised wooden section to act as a tonering and all the tarnish came off of the pot and parts leaving a gleaming, sleek (and looking-new) uke!


Very elegant original rosewood pegs with a nicely carved headstock. I love it when the three crests of the headstock are all at the same level.


And here's the great part that's interesting about this uke: its neck is profiled like a regular Hawaiian-style uke, thin and super-comfortable and fast-action. This is in stark contrast to typical banjo-ukes which have a thicker and heavier banjo-mandolin, thin-nut feel to them (specifically to counter the metal strings many banjo ukes used in the age). This one, however, was built specifically to use gut strings, and feels great! It's nice to have the banjo form of the uke measure up to the wooden form.



Finish is in beautiful condition, and as you can see, just glows with grain.

Perty, purty, peeeerty. Original no-knot style 5-string tailpiece, too!


Elegant.


Looks like maple in the pot and dowel but I wouldn't swear to it. Makes a lovely contrast with the golden ginger-ale neck.

2 comments:

Franco said...

Hi...I just found your website and I have to say it is awesome!...I play ukulele and guitar...I recently got into tinkering with musical instruments...I built a few ukulele kits and a cigar box uke...My most recent project is to restore/refinish an old banjo uke I found at the local antique shop...Only problem I have is setting up the action at the 12th fret...How can I get it lower?...It has a dowel stick with metal hardware that doesn't allow to do many changes...Do I just need to work by sanding the bridge?...How does the action in a banjo uke compare to normal ukulele, is it always higher?...Thanks!...If you can give me some tips it would be appreciated!

Franco said...

I actually found a similar set up here on your blog:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_0K70sLCgQbE/SbefgYUJr8I/AAAAAAAABJM/sQgBsDVzmpw/s1600-h/maybell14.jpg

that is how my uke looks. The neck brace is identical to the one on this 1930 MayBell banjo uke. Does the neck brace have any other function besides holding the neck together?

Sorry to ask.