12/04/2010

c.1925 Harmony "Supertone" Fancy Ukulele


Here's a dapper late 20s, early 30s Harmony-made (for Sears) "Supertone" soprano ukulele. It's all-solid mahogany and features a fully-bound fretboard, nice two-ply binding on the top edge and soundhole, and snazzy looks.

My work included a neck reset, reglue of some fretboard cracks, reglue of hairline cracks to the top, and installation of a new bone saddle as well as setup/cleaning, etc. Oh, and I also replaced the entirely-missing binding on the fretboard edges and added a new nut, too.


This uke plays great, with that early-20s narrow body style, and has a springy, sweet and bell-like tone. It's a great fingerpicker or clawhammer uke -- plenty of projection.


MOP dots on the fretboard.




Finish is in pretty good shape.



Some good-looking original labels in the soundhole.



Original bakelite-buttoned tuners.




Good looking mahogany!




As far as bang-for-buck goes, these older Harmony ukes are there. This one is also unusual in that it has a dovetail-style neck join as opposed to a doweled neck join -- this makes it incredibly strong and imparts better energy from the neck to the body.

6 comments:

Howlin' Hobbit said...

I love the simple ones. There's such an elegance to them.

Antebellum Instruments said...

Sure is. :D

John B said...

Wow - lovely little uke, one of the best looking, and best condition Harmonys I've ever seen.

Other than the Harmony 'standard approved' label, is there any signature feature that you look for that denotes a Harmony product?

Antebellum Instruments said...

John: Body shape, bridge design, neck feel/cut/headstock shape (that's a biggie), bracing patterns (and how the braces are cut) as well as the fact that most Supertone ukes were built by Harmony as Sears owned the Supertone brand and also owned Harmony at the time the brand name was in use. In 1941? I think... Harmony became independent of Sears, and Sears then sold Harmony-made instruments in their catalogs under the Silvertone line. I think it was 1941.

Antebellum Instruments said...

AHHH and RE the "Standard Approved" label -- all the big Chicago makers sat down one day and decided to submit their ukes to a review panel to make sure that they all met a certain criteria of quality to be sold to the public (correct scale, playability, intonation, build, etc.) and those that "made it" got to put that label in the soundhole/back of headstock/what-have-you.

I just learned about that the other day reading a period mag that had the article about this Standard Approved mumbo jumbo. It was a marketing gimmick for the big-box firms.

Ron Neely said...

Thanks for posting this. I picked up one of these ukes recently but it was in bad shape and had no label. I was having a hard time identifying the maker till I found this one on your blog. I figured since it had a bound top and fingerboard it was probably a pretty decent one. Looking forward to getting it fixed up!