5/07/2012

c.1925 Regal-made SS Stewart Soprano Ukulele





This lovely little soprano uke was made by Regal in Chicago and sold by B&J under their (at that point, owned by them anyhow) "SS Stewart" brand name around 1925 or so. This is the fancier version of this model (click here) also made by Regal. You can also see a couple of similar ly-built Regal ukes here and here, both sharing construction and material styles similar to this uke.

At any rate, my work included a neck reset, top hairline crack repair & cleating (to the treble side of the bridge), fret level & dress, cleaning, and setup. Like a lot of other Regal ukes from the time, the finish on this has crackled up and initially the uke was filthy, probably from poor storage. I would usually also need to reglue the bridge on a uke like this but the job was done (securely but amateurly) in the past, so I didn't need to.


Even through the crackly finish you can see the beautiful, highly-flamed Cuban mahogany used throughout this uke. In addition the fretboard and neck are also plainer-Janer mahogany.


The top, back, fretboard, soundhole and headstock are all bound in multi-ply celluloid binding which gives a really classy look.



There's some playwear on the upper fretboard. Note how nicely that finish has aged...! I like this look. It's like a comfy old piece of furniture.


The Martin-style micro dots are a nice touch, too.


Original mahogany bridge as well.



Interior label.



See how the binding has a 2nd ply of lighter "pinstripe" below the black? Real slick.


This also has the original wood violin-style pegs, too, which look great and keep the peghead light.


Because of a slightly ill-fitting neck joint, when I reset the neck I also filled the edges of the join just for a uniform look. It's perfectly stable.



The super-flame of the Cuban mahogany really stands out on the back! It's easy to mistake this wood for koa.



Note the cute stamp on the headstock rear. This might mislead some folks to think this is a Martin-made instrument, but the construction details are entirely wrong for Martin and 100% correct for Regal. To further confuse matters, there are existing early 1920s instruments that were made by Martin and sold under the SS Stewart brand name at around the same time as this one, but they're extremely rare. Click here for an example of a 2-17 Special guitar branded under the name.


So, anyway, back to this uke -- I just have to say right here that I really love Regal ukes from this period. They tend to be loud, sweet-toned, and with enough cut and projection to be heard in the mix with other instruments. Dime for dime they're extremely good buys compared to other period makes and made out of really high quality wood. Ah, and of course, this is no exception.



Flamed mahogany on the sides, too.


End block area.

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