7/21/2014

c.1930 Gibson UB-1 Banjo Ukulele




UB-1s are so cool... but so odd, too! This one came by way of a customer getting work done on it which included: fret level/dress, fret seating (sunk superglue into each fret joint to keep them seated well as they were slipping all over during the leveling), replacement hook/nut/shoe set (I actually had identical parts in my bin), new bridge, and setup. It came in pretty clean but this is the usual sort of work I expect to see on banjos of any type from this time.

It has a great, chimey, sprightly sound and I even bended to the owner's desire for Aquila strings and (hopefully) surprised him with a set of reds which is perfect for this (especially since it's tuned up to ADF#B tuning). The scale length is a short-as-heck 12 1/2" which really surprised me but must've been done to fit the neck to the tiny little pot with the bridge in a nice place.


The head was replaced at some point but it was done nicely. I just had to trim the edges a bit.


Ebony nut, Gibson script in painted-silver.


Pearl dots and those nice-feeling low profile Gibson frets...



This whole thing is made from maple stained a medium brown. The neck feels glorious!


The resonator adds a nice "snap" to the tone. Note the bit of scuffing up top on it: there were holes and marks that were apparently there from when a seller's tin nameplate was affixed. I've filled the holes and sealed up the finish but in the right light (like here) you can still see the marks.

The owner was slightly worried about this... but here's the catch: the resonator can just be turned around and reinstalled with the interior portion showing... and the finish on that is in great shape! I wanted the history to show for the pics so that's why the scuffed-up outside is shown here.








I like these tailpieces... simple and practical and will accept loop-end steel strings should the urge ever strike a new owner to install them.

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