10/14/2010

c.1920 Sandstrom Birdseye Walnut Banjo Ukulele


NOTE!!! Just got some new information on this uke -- it was a Sandstrom uke, made in Oakland, California, and was one of the first generation of little banjo ukes. The pot is actually burled redwood and not birdseye walnut... though they both look quite similar... I should've guessed from the color but was not sure anyone was really using the stuff on instruments back then. At any rate, there's your update. :D

This is a super nice old soprano-scale banjo uke. I've seen this type branded "Rolando" before and also a very similar model in the Sherman, Clay & Co catalog images I've seen online (a West Coast retailer). There was a California maker whose name I cannot recall that made ukes of this style in a small shop...

I think this is one of those... the details give the fingerprint: hole in headstock, hole under "tailpiece" area... for strap attachment... the block-made rim and resonator back are solid birdseye walnut (a wowzer kind of thing if you're into wood)... and it has one of those fantastic inline heads that adjusts tension from underneath, thus hiding any sort of tightening mechanisms.


So, back to woods: solid block-built birdseye black walnut rim (beautiful in the extreme!), solid maple neck with frets-in neck and four inlaid stripes of walnut down the fretboard.


Pearl dots are a gorgeous yellowy/creamy/greenish color.


All-original hardware, by the way, including old bakelite buttons on the tuners. I added some plasticy washer thingies to keep the tuners from deteriorating, however.


...oh right, and the bridge is actually a parts-bin 1920s Grover tenor banjo bridge but it works perfectly for this uke.


My repairwork included... filing down sharp fret edges, giving this a total fret dress, gluing up a couple of hairline cracks in the wood rim, gluing up the resonator (which had cracked into two pieces) and cleating that glue job from behind so it won't come apart again... also a "new" vintage bridge, general cleaning, and full setup, as usual.



Just LOOK at that wood. It's finished with a clearcoat, by the way, so that's the natural color of the wood you're seeing. Gorgeous stuff there.





Did I mention that curly/birdseye walnut is all OVER the place and is NOT veneer? Gotta love it!




Simple and functional string attachment. I like this way better than those tailpieces you see on the later inline-head banjo ukes.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jake

I believe that is the coolest uke I've seen on your blog yet. Where in the world do you get this stuff? Nevermind, if you've made some kind of deal with the devil I don't want to know about it ;-)

Ben

Antebellum Instruments said...

Ben: I do a LOT of looking and searching because I only like buying stuff I'd be proud and eager to play on stage or record with.

Also, there was that goblin who said he'd claim the first pre-war advanced jumbo I came across... :)

Anonymous said...

Okay, Jake. Just don't promise the little sprite your first born. Bonnie would never forgive you!

Ben

john_v_phipps@hotmail.com said...

Any chance you can snap pics of the inside? I have one in pieces, and do not think all of the pieces are there to reassemble the head. Have ween little metal pieces that fit into groove inside and bolts that seem to push head into place.

Maiyah Olivas said...

Oh so very beautiful -- that redwood is stunning!

It's such a pleasure to see your craftsmanship -- when will you YouTube a song with this lovely piece?

Antebellum Instruments said...

Maiyah: Sorry! Long since sold.

John: Don't have the uke on hand anymore.

Unknown said...

I have one just like that, but mine has 6 screws holding the back on instead of 5 like yours and the one on wiki. Also the body has been broken and glued back together. Just out of curiosity, how much did you sell your's for?