12/04/2013

c.1920 Bruno Banjo Ukulele



I had a bit of deja vu when I initially saw this uke in pics when it was traded-in to me for credit vs. another instrument. That's because I worked on a "The Vernon" version of this same uke earlier this year -- go figure! I'm fairly sure that these instruments were made by Lange for resale under different labels, but that has yet to be confirmed.

Like the other one, I'm pretty enthusiastic about this banjo uke. It feels great in the hands, has a rugged build, and looks old-timey, too. It's all-original save a new bridge and some modern friction pegs (the new super-duper Saga pegs that I like a lot). Work included a fret level/dress, the aforementioned new parts, and a setup. It plays great and has a loud but balanced, crisp sound. I prefer "all wood" banjo ukes like this, by which I mean those without big metal tonerings that cause them to be pingy or shrieky.




Nice pearl star in the headstock. The fretboard and headstock veneer are both dark-stained hardwood (pearwood? maple?) while the rest of the instrument is maple. I flipped over the original nut and then reslotted it for better string spacing (it was way too narrow to begin with).


The "dots" are just that -- dots of paint. Note how this neck gets much wider towards the join with the pot -- a nice feature. This reminds me a lot of Hawaiian ukes, though the deep-ish C-shaped neck gives this instrument strength enough to use it with a variety of steel strings if desired (like half a set of mandolin strings, for instance).

The scale length is 13 1/8" which is pretty typical for the time.





Good, rugged build! The neck brace tightens up by knocking those ebony shims into it.


Ivoroid "Bruno" label...


The rim hardware is all-original and the skin head is in great shape.


This is my favorite type of old tailpiece regularly encountered on banjo-ukes: it loads easily and is simple, simple, simple.

2 comments:

Gim Ardal said...

As the owner of the aforementioned "Vernon" uke which is identical to this one I can say that these are really sweet little uke's that feel great, and sound great with a nice tenor guitary neck instead of a thin ukey neck. Comfortable and rugged.

Kevin Crowell said...

Yep, I second that emotion!

I'm the proud owner of a Bruno Banjo Uke that originally bought by my grandmother in the '20. It is very similar to this one but has "Bruno" inlayed on the peghead and uses small diamond shaped MOP for the fret markers.

It's a solid instrument that feels great under my fingers and the sound is unbeatable! I use it mostly for playing bluegrass tunes and some Tin Pan Alley songs and it never disappoints.

After 90 years the original skin head finally developed a tear so I replace it and it's now good for another 100 years or so.

If you are thinking of owning one of these, think no more and click the "buy" button. It's guaranteed to please.