12/13/2012

c.1915 Conservatory Koa Soprano Ukulele


This uke is branded "Conservatory" in the soundhole but I'm almost certain that this was an Oscar Schmidt (New Jersey) build from around 1920. If it's not OS, it's Harmony, but before I modified the original bridge it was certainly an OS-style (rather than Harmony-style) bridge shape. The dovetailed neck joint and square-cut kerfing also signifies more of an OS build.

At any rate -- work included a brace reglue, some seam reglues, fret level/dress, cleaning, replacement of two wooden pegs (with parts-bin vintage ones), and setup. It's a nice little player with a great, projecting tone in that sort of dry, airy Hawaiian way.


The body appears to be made from Hawaiian koa wood in a golden-orange color with flamed koa in use on the sides. The neck looks like mahogany.


Check out the fun, Dias-inspired headstock! Rosewood nut, too. Harmony also used this cut but the details of the cut were different (wider on the Harmony models). Those are Aquila Nylgut strings for period tone.


I love the dots and inlay down the fretboard! Note the sort of rounded, smoothed shape of the fretboard extension "pip" over the body. Frets are nickel-silver.


There are lovely "rope" bound details throughout: top, back, and soundhole all have it.


This is the original bridge but I've reprofiled the top for better action and intonation. This is currently cut to more of a Knutsen-style design.



Nice curly/flamed stuff here!







The only crack is less than 1/4" long and is on the very bottom of the back -- it's a hairline that's stable.


Wood pegs work just fine.


Good heel joint.




The end-strip is a nice detail, too.


Conservatory label in the soundhole.

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