10/29/2014

1930s "Mess Kit" Resonator Banjo Ukulele




The owner of this uke calls this a "mess kit" banjo uke because of the big old "dish" chrome resonator attachment. In fact -- the rim is also all-metal and plated as well. It's a weird instrument because the rim and resonator attachment are very much in the vein of old "Maxitone" banjo ukes (right down to the "U-king" tailpiece on this model) but the neck is almost home-made in comparison (but not). It's certainly "home-finished" in a drippy natural finish.

It came in decently setup (I'd done a quick setup for its owner a couple years ago) and cleared up some overtone issues with the head as well as gave it a fresh setup. It's loud, has a good plain sort of tone without a lot of extra ring, and has a thin-but-wide (side to side) neck feel which reminds me of Hawaiian soprano instruments. The only downsides to this little screamer are some inaccurate fret placements (which mean it's not pitch-correct everywhere on the neck) and a very light bit of relief in the neck. Still... it plays at 1/16" action at the 12th fret and cleanly which is "spot on" as far as setup goes.



This has a replacement skin head that was (curiously) installed with the overlap on the inside of the rim! I had to cut a lot of that overlap back to remove odd overtones/vibrations that would pop up now and then when playing it before. The rim is your standard-issue 7" Maxitone type.


The neck was apparently refinished at some point in natural. I'm assuming that's because it probably started out in life as an oddball painted neck.


The brass frets are in good order.


I believe I supplied the period-correct Non-Tip bridge when I worked on this before.



This doubles as a hubcab when not in use in this fashion... sheesh... my eyes!






The sturdy "U-King" tailpiece is nice to have.

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