5/16/2014

c.1920 Lange-made "Lucky Jade" Resonator Banjo Ukulele




How cool is a green pearloid banjo uke? This cool, obviously! This one was made by Lange in New York and is outwardly similar to a White Swan uke of same parentage but plainer and with less bling and gadgetry. It's got a sound similar to a resonator-back Gibson like a UB-1 but maybe with a bit more warmth and it plays slick and sweet.

It came to me missing a number of frets, lacking a resonator, and needing a tailpiece and replacement pegs (it only had 3 of its original Champion pegs). I completely refretted it, cleaned it up a bunch, scrounged an old banjo uke tailpiece from my parts bin (as well as some ivoroid-buttoned fricton pegs), and conveniently replaced the missing resonator with a cool yellow tin lid sourced from our family's antique shop back room. I also added a new bone nut and Grover 2-foot maple/ebony bridge.




This has its original 7" skin head. The rim hardware is all original as well. The mix of colors in the pearloid (grey-green fretboard, kelly-green headstock and rim side) contrasts well with the plain grey-painted maple neck and the "new" yellow tin resonator.


Yeah, isn't that cool?


Brand new frets never hurt and the red-paint dot markers sure are cute!

This has a 13 1/8" scale and I've got it strung up with Aquila Super Nylguts.



The tin resonator is attached just like any period "pie plate" style actually-made-for-banjo resonator in that there's a central screw for tension and some lugs installed at the rim to keep it suspended a bit behind the instrument itself. I kept everything from the period except the screw and ferrule.


The period friction pegs work just fine.


The little "shoe" thingy was for attachment of the original resonator which is long since gone.




I love the weird choice of grey paint for the neck!

The neck's shape itself is a bigger U and this has wider string spacing compared to a typical banjo uke of the time which tend to be narrow like a mandolin or tenor banjo.



The tailpiece is off of a same-period "California style" banjo uke that I partsed-out as it was damaged. The bridge has been sanded and re-slotted for wider string spacing.


...how about some wild strawberries to go with the wild uke?

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