11/06/2013

c.1930 Gibson Style 1 Soprano Ukulele


The back-story on this Gibson style 1 (all solid mahogany, no binding) soprano uke is that I got a bit burned on it on fleaBay. Like most old ukes, I figured it'd need at least a bridge reglue, fret level and dress, and maybe a crack repair to get it going, but it turned out that despite the premium I paid for it the condition was certainly not anywhere near "as described" which was "good except for one crack." Yup -- this happens to me, too!

I'm happy with how it turned out post-repair, though. I've been wanting one of these Gibsons since I sold the last SS Stewart-branded one I had and this has the same "functional voice" I liked on that one: creamy, sweet, perfectly useful for strumming or fingerpicking, and understated (not a lot of bell overtones or ring). The neck is also wider like on a Martin but has more of a medium C shape which I like.




Work included a bridge reglue and slight shave, cleating and gluing-up of 3 hairline cracks on the front, some application of a sealer coat of finish to protect some bare areas, a light fret level/dress, cleaning, a new bone nut, and setup.


Gold-decal "The Gibson" script.


The fretboard appears to be dyed maple rather than rosewood. I like the micro dots, though.



Cute and simple "reverse rope" rosette.


Like the Martin bridges, the Gibson ones have ebony saddles.


You can see a bit more of the funky finish muck-ups (sandpaper marks, areas where the finish was rubbed down -- and since re-applied by me) and cracks in the glare.




Who doesn't like those spring-loaded Waverly tuners? These are some of the nicest old friction pegs you can get on a uke -- lightweight and effective.


Believe it or not, 3/4 of the back was pretty much bare of real finish. I applied a couple coats to the bare areas and then rubbed it down to get it looking more "right."






The other ugly bit was all inside: 1/2 the kerfing is replaced with hack-repair (sturdy but hideous) "home-made" kerfing and I had to remove a couple of posts that someone had installed from the back to the top (possibly to reinforce the cracked areas on the top?) which were weird.

1 comment:

Jenn Grigoryev (jenn of all trades) said...

HI! I have this exact same ukulele, passed down from my great-grandfather. Like yours it needs serious work, and I'm in the process of researching how to do this all myself. The one thing I can't seem to find is any info about the bridge--mine has popped off and as I was contemplating re-glueing it I noticed the saddle is completely chipped. Any ideas how I can fix this or find another? Any info you can pass along would be awesome!