6/08/2014

c.1925 Stromberg-Voisinet/Kay-made 8" Rim Resonator Banjo Uke




This cool old banjo uke sports a 14" scale, rarer large-size 8" head, maple build, and a turned resonator strapped to its rear. Work included a fret level/dress, new (vintage parts-bin) skin head, cleaning, and setup. It's mostly original though I provided a same-period taipiece and new bridge. Apparently around the time it was made someone fit some guitar-style tuners to it (they're same-period, too) which means this has "all the modern features" going for it, huh?

Sound-wise it's a full-sounding champ and the Martin fluorocarbon (tenor gauge for a bit more stiffness) strings add a sweet bottom end to it. It plays perfectly with 1/16" action at the 12th fret and has a narrow, quick neck which makes closed-shape chordal work pretty easy.





Ebony nut... dyed-maple fretboard... and a cute pearl "diamond" at the headstock.



The three-piece solid-wood turned resonator is good and heavy-duty.


I'm sure someone cut these tuners off of 3-on-a-plate guitar machines. Pretty good work, too...!


One bolt to remove the resonator and turn it into an openback...




The rim hardware is all original.


Here you can see the nice shape of that turned resonator...


...and the good heavy-duty neck brace. Note the bit of foam stuffed under the head to stifle overtones. Always a must if you like clear-sounding banjo uke!


The tailpiece is rusty but useful: this came to me with an 1880s 5-string tailpiece mounted (who knows why?) which isn't as practical for uke strings.

The little detailing on the rim's bottom edge is actual inlaid stuff, by the way.

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