11/10/2013

c.1926 Harmony-made Olympian Banjo Ukulele



Edit: Title corrected (typo: Olypmian is funnier but not right, thanks for the note)!

This soprano-scale banjo uke has a fairly typical Harmony-style neck popped on it but the rim is the most interesting part: it's a 7" all-metal pot and it gives the uke a big, loud, and semi-resonator-uke sort of sound. It's a bit more metallic than "spanky/pingy" like a lot of banjo ukes tend to be. Very interesting, punchy, and loud, with very little of that out-of-control harmonics one might expect on a pot of this style.

Work included a dowel reglue, fret level/dress, some added plastic washers for the tuners, cleaning, a new (parts bin) bridge, and setup. It's got some Martin fluorocarbon strings on it at the moment and it plays beautifully (spot on 1/16" at the 12th fret).




Everything is original to the uke save the bridge which is a period one I've fit to this guy and came off a different banjo uke. The original skin head is in good shape but shows wear and has two tiny pinprick holes near the tailpiece (these are caused by the "hooks" that I've since removed from the tailpiece itself).

I've worked on a lot of these and have never found those tiny holes to get bigger or pose an issue for the head -- most head tears come from someone jabbing something into the head by accident.


Cute "Olympian" decal at the headstock.


Celluloid dots are inlaid in the (painted-black) board.


Maple bridge.


The metal pot, because it's fairly thin, keeps this a bit lighter-weight than other banjo ukes that have full wood rims.





This has a nicer, machine screw-adjustable neck brace. Tighten it once or twice a year or so to make sure your neck stays put...!



Though it was a bit difficult to photo, there are a couple dates on the back of the head for different owners -- one at 1926 (the presumable purchase date which makes sense) and one in the 50s.


The simple tailpiece is easy to load -- knot up the ends and hang them from the "tabs" below the stringing holes.

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