4/12/2014

c.1920 Harmony-made Flamed Mahogany Soprano Ukulele




Update: Since originally posting I went ahead and recut the bridge for super-quick 1/16" action at the 12th fret. I've added new photos.

This pretty little uke has a warm, creamy sort of sound that's a bit on the dry/fundamental side and has that sort of 20s "choppy" sound when you strum it fancy. I've worked on a bunch of these and they always turn out pleasant. This one has a little bit more flame/curl to its mahogany than usual and it really pops in the sun. These are made in the late-teens, early-20s standard "Harmony peanut shape" which is slightly smaller than a modern (read: Martin-imprint) soprano uke. It's got a straight 13" scale length and the rope detailing around the top edge and soundhole sets it apart from the general mahogany pack of the day.



Work included a neck reset (I added a 2nd dowel to the bottom of the heel for extra support as the original dowel at the top of the heel never seems to be enough to hold these tight over time), fret level/dress, replacement (old parts bin Harmony) mahogany bridge, two tiny hairline crack cleats on the treble side of the face, cleaning, replacement tuners (parts-bin Grover Champions from the 20s) and a setup.

It plays with 1/16" action at the 12th fret which is "spot on" and easy.


I actually modified the shafts (cut them shorter) of these old Champion banjo pegs to make them perfect for uke. They function well and have a good, old-timey look.


Note how the 12th fret is a little smaller than the rest -- it's a replacement.


Isn't that flame pretty nice? The little "black spot" on the side is just a grain coloration. It's not a hole or crack.


While this bridge isn't original to the uke, it's a same-period Harmony bridge from my parts bin. The slightly greenish hue to the front edge of the finish is where I recut the bridge for setup's sake.

Though you can't see them, there are two tiny hairline cracks in this vicinity that have been cleated and filled. One is to the treble side of the bridge and one is just under that going to the edge of the top.




Yummy back, too. The finish is all original but it does show weathercheck throughout. It looks nice, though.



Barring bad storage or rough gigging, this newly-reset neck should hold just fine for the next 100.


Don't ya love the graining in the neck?




Overall? Yeah -- it's a pretty little thing. Can't argue!

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