10/29/2014

1940s Harmony-made Spruce/Mahogany Soprano Ukulele




This soprano uke conforms to most specifications for a typical Harmony-made instrument from the late 30s through the 40s except that... it's got a spruce top! That's strange in my book as almost all Harmony uke products were either all-birch or all-mahogany in nature. It's also got the cool 40s-style tortoise binding on the top edge which is offset by a fun checker soundhole binding.

I'd set this up for its owner a while ago (very quickly) but this time around it's come in for resale so I cleated the bigger hairline crack below the bridge, leveled and dressed the frets, reseated the frets with a bit of super-glue drizzle and wood dust, checked it all out, and set it up to play on-the-dot with 1/16" action at the 12th fret. It has a sweet, clear, vibrant tone which is very similar to a usual airy-sounding mellow Harmony uke but with added sparkle and chime. I like!



This has the usual 13" soprano scale and is feather-light.


There's that mahogany neck with the usual Harmony shield headstock shape. The nut is rosewood and the "cracks" in the headstock are just in the finish.


This has a very thin Brazilian rosewood board with faux-pearl dots and brass frets. The frets tend to creep in this style of board (as it's so thin) which is why I needed to sink some glue and rosewood dust in their slots and around them to make sure they stay seated. All good to go, now!



The bridge is mahogany and must've been reglued at some point in the past. There are three small hairline cracks (tight, glued-up) on the top but that's it for cracks.



The mahogany back, sides, and neck all look great.


The bakelite pegs work just fine.


The neck was reglued at some point with a screw added. This, to me, is perfectly fine. These ukes are built with single-dowel joints that come together at the top edge so these always need some sort of reinforcement on the bottom (back) edge of the joint to keep them stable over time. I do the same thing when I work on these but usually countersink the screw instead. No harm done!





I love the medium green-brown tortoise!

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