7/22/2011

c.1940 Johnny Marvin "Tenor" Ukulele


This is a nice old Johnny Marvin "tenor" (really concert, 14 3/4" scale) ukulele I got in trade from Fran of the VT Uke Society. She wasn't into the snappy/dry tone and the work needed on the uke, but this sound especially suits my fingerstyle playing on uke and works great for recording. Not to mention, I'd been looking for one of these for a while to use as a "stage hand."

This one dates from c.1940 and these were made by Harmony. They're solid flamed mahogany, bound in celluloid, with a rosewood fretboard, and sport a sweet dark sunburst (which nicely matches my Hawaiian guitar) finish.


The uke is all-original save that I had to recut the bridge, reglue it, and touch it up (ie, repaint it vintage-looking black as it's a maple bridge). At the same time, I removed the original celluloid saddle and installed an old brass fret to darken up the tone just a hair.


Cool decal on headstock. Note the wide nut! These have good wide necks which might hamper single-note lead work but really helps when playing chords and fingerpicking up and down.


Originally, this had faux-MOP dots in the board. I actually like the look of those, but because I'm installing a pickup and using this for playing out, I wanted the dots to shine in the dark just a bit, so I installed these real MOP dots in their place.

I also dressed the brass frets on the uke.


Cool simple bound soundhole.


Here's that bridge. I also did something a little cool with the string load...

...this bridge had been poorly reglued with something like Crazy glue which somewhat damaged the top on removal (ie, chip-out). I took all that mess off and reglued the bridge like normal but then also drilled some tiny holes through the top in the same area the slots are located. This lets me pass the string through the tiny hole, knot it from inside the soundhole, then pull it up to the tuner, all with the look of a regular tied/slotted setup. Essentially what this does is take some of the tension off of the bridge directly, which should help keep the (now more fragile) bridge area in better shape.


Gotta love the dark sunburst.




This has celluloid (or bakelite?) buttoned Grover Champion Jrs (ie, uke-size Champs).


I also installed MOP side dots for easy reference in low light.





Harder to see with the dark finish, but this uke has flamed mahogany on the top and back.





Oh, right, and to top it all off I installed a K&K Big Twin pickup in there!

1 comment:

Franulele said...

It turned out great! Gotta love those sunburst Johnny Marvins! Very pretty!