3/16/2011

c.1925 Lyon & Healy "American Conservatory" Concert Banjo Ukulele


These are great, very rare banjo ukuleles, with a concert scale length of 15" and a larger 8" pot. This model, 530, was a plainer-Jane version of the instrument, as I've worked on a high-quality all-walnut (with inlay, ebony board, etc.) version of the instrument as well. This one appears to be solid birch on the pot & neck with some sort of ebonized hardwood fretboard and headstock veneer.


Bone nut. This uke has all of its original hardware save one shoe/hook/nut set, which is a replacement set from my parts bin.


Aside from cleaning and setup, I've also dressed the frets and it plays perfectly with super low action. The strings are setup with a low wound G at the moment -- I use Martin fluorocarbon sets almost exclusively now as I find they "set" in very quickly and have a good bell-like tone.

This happens to actually be a baritone (DGBE) set with the bass strings wound and the treble strings plain... when you string a concert or soprano with this set and tune it to regular GCEA it gives you a low G stringing (great for jazz or lead work) with a much fatter/tighter bass and a bit more volume, too. It sounds really nice on this uke, for sure, and the extra tension of the concert scale lets the action be very, very low.


Original skin head. Oh, and yes, the bridge is new, too -- new Grover Non-Tip.



Despite the grunginess of the hardware, it was quite worse before. I cleaned this stuff off a lot. It's important that hardware doesn't have clumped up rust or corrosion that would effect its usefulness.



Lyon & Healy patent pegs have bakelite buttons, nickel-silver-plated copper shafts, and simple round ferrules. These are among the most functional friction pegs on ukes from the time that I've ever used. I've always liked their good fit & rugged design.


There's some missing "rim cap" wood, exposing the multi-lam construction of the rim.


Good rugged neck brace.



Hard to see, but this has the "American Conservatory" stamp (a Lyon & Healy mid-grade brand) and model # 530 at the dowel's end.




Lots of finish has weather-chipped/flaked off over time.


Simple Waverly tailpiece lets you string this with a variety of string types. I could have used four of the slots or the "ball end" attachment holes, but sometimes I like the side-pressure you get from having the strings at an angle.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just picked up one of these but with a bottom bottom oversized cap that is removable. The tail piece is made by Kershner. There is a little diamond piece of lighter wood inlayed on the head and a very narrow darker stringer of wood that runs down the back of the neck. All the other stamps/markings are the same except the model # which is 5307 I believe. All original in a case one previous family owned it since day one. Very dirty but completely functional. Any more info would be appreciated.
Thanks,
bird

Fabián Da Silva. said...

Hello how are you? I live in Uruguay and I recently purchased a banjo ukulele Slingerland, but without the bridge, I want to ask what kind of bridge you recommend to buy, I have seen on Ebay bridges tenor banjo Grover but I do not know which steps should tenr crossover point ukulele banjo.
Thank you very much for your time and really appreciate your help, see you soon and take care.