1/25/2014

c.1925 Lyon & Healy American Conservatory 6-string Ukulele




Maybe the post title is deceptive, but this actually started out as a 4-string. I added the extra two strings and a matching set of 6 vintage (period) friction pegs myself because I found out someone had glued a big old bridge plate/brace (at least it was softwood) below the bridge! This meant that the top was stiffened up beyond the original specs and since I wasn't about to tear the instrument apart to get at it I made some lemonade with those lemons and it turned out great. How often do you see a 6-string uke in vintage get-up, anyway?

Other work included a neck reset, fret level and dress, and some cleaning.



The serial number at the headstock places this guy at 1925.

It's an all-mahogany uke and except for the rectangular bridge and the slightly-fewer frets, this could have been a L&H "Washburn" model instead. It's built exactly the same as a regular Washburn uke, otherwise.

If you're wondering, the finish is all original but it's "milked up" all over with moisture at some point. The pics actually leave it looking worse than it does in person with all the bright sun.


The nut was missing so I made this ebony one to replace it. I was lucky enough to have 6 of the same-type vintage (nicer-grade) pegs in my parts bin. The stringing here is like most 6-strings -- the A course is doubled and the C course has a high octave in front of the regular C.

L&H uke necks are tough stuff so I'm very much not worried about the extra tension on it. It's perfectly straight.


The rosewood board feels great and so does the mildly-v neck profile. Those are ivoroid dots in the board. I like the L&H fretboard extension look, too... it's got a nice cut.



The pearl dots cover up some screw holes left by a previous owner (sigh). The strings on this can either (a) load by knotting behind the bridge or (b) load through the top (which is what's going on here) via some small holes drilled behind the bridge's overhang.

FYI, the chip-out at the Cs on the rear of the bridge was there when I got it... well, essentially. I initially strung it up as a 4-string and when I tuned up the C that little bit popped off and hilariously went flying somewhere in the workshop and is now lost for eternity. It's no surprise -- the slots just wear out.






Nice ivoroid buttons, huh?





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