8/07/2014

c.1925 Stromberg Voisinet/Kay 8" Clarion-branded Banjo Ukulele




Well, it only took me all day to find my upload cable for the camera while I puttered about the workshop performing some emergency guitar surgery that landed today without warning... but here's that uke I promised yesterday!

It's a mid-late 20s Kay-made (Stromberg Voisinet at that point) unit with the rarer 8" rim and long soprano 14" scale length. This makes it more of a professional-feeling instrument as far as openback banjo ukes go and means the tone is bigger, fuller, and louder than your average 6-7" rim designs. Work included a fret level/dress, cleaning, new bridge, 2 replacement hook/nuts and one replacement shoe, and of course the usual setup, new nut, whatnot. She plays great, sounds great... and looks great with all those college-days scribbles on the original skin head.



New bone nut... and the original friction pegs have been spruced up for nice functionality (I trimmed the set screws to give more adjustment room and put a bit of peg dope on them).


The new bridge is a maple/ebony 2-foot Grover of the $6.50 type. These make great banjo uke bridges.


The construction throughout is all maple with a birdseye maple neck and dyed-maple fretboard with pearl dot inlay. The rim is several-ply maple as well.


You can see the replacement shoe: I had to fit a collar around it to get it to fit but externally it looks nice with the rest of the shoes.



Good, simple, heavy-duty neck brace.



The rim has an inlaid band running around it of the type of purfling seeing quite often in Chicago guitars and mandolins.




Here you can see the birdseye figure in the (straight) maple neck. The neck shape is a lot like an old Gibson mandolin with a medium V. It's strong enough for steel but sounds so good strung with these Martin fluorocarbon strings. I've been using the "tenor" gauged set for sopranos these days as the tension is slightly heavier than their standard soprano set and more suitable to many old ukes that expect ADF#B tension at pitch but these days are tuned GCEA.


Tailpiece is the simple type... and works fine.

No comments: