10/01/2014

c.1930 Harmony-made 7" Resonator Banjo Uke


There are no markings but this customer's instrument is a Harmony (Chicago) build for sure. It's an interesting one, however, because it's quite deluxe and then also at the same time closer in style in some ways to the relatively plain "California style" banjo ukes that, as far as I can tell, dominated their banjo uke output.

It's got a regular 13" soprano scale and the neck has a thin (front to back) but wide (side to side) profile which is common on their "California style" banjo ukes but not something I'm used to seeing from their more upscale, heavier-duty banjo ukes like this one which have a full hook/shoe style rim and, in this case, a resonator. These usually have a thicker neck with a thinner nut width which means they can take steel strings, too, if desired. With something like this one's neck (which is more comfortable in many ways) you can only string it with synthetics like nylon or fluorocarbon as the tension is less.



Everything appears to be original except for 1 same-type friction peg button which was from my parts box (the original was toast). The skin head is doing fine and I only had to give the instrument a good setup before it was playing within proper specs (low 1/16" action at the 12th fret). It could probably use a light fret level/dress but as-is the frets are surprisingly-decent, too, considering that they're mounted in a pearloid-bedecked board (which are prone to shooting their frets out).


I know I've seen this headstock shape on some other Harmony products but I don't see it all that mch, really. I'm so used to their shield-shaped headstock on ukes or a version of this same headstock shape with less of a distinct point at the top.

Nut is bone.


The yellowy pearloid fobard actually has some cute, thick, black binding to edge it.


...and in the back you can check out a fun sunburst on the resonator.

This instrument's primary wood is mahogany, though I'm not sure what the interior plies of the rim are made of.


This resonator was pressed in a mold rather than spun or carved-down as seen on most Oscar Schmidt and some Bacon banjo resonators.



The same purfling material found on lots of Harmony guitars and banjos is present, here, as inlaid stripes on the rim and resonator. Nice touch, huh?

I mentioned to the owner how lucky he was to have picked this one up... and he is! I haven't seen another quite like it and tonally it has the same sort of warm, dry sound that's made Bonnie and myself keep a Harmony-made banjo uke as our only banjo uke for the last 5+ years. It's a non-tonering model, but you still get lots of volume but without the "ping" so inherent (and needing to be dialed out) in toneringed 7" rims.




And here's our banjo man! Rik Palieri is the fine owner of this instrument and a stand-up fancy musician-type fellow, too. I forgot to squeeze a pic of the honey these guys also make (and gifted me) but will share that tomorrow, too. Part of the job I like best is meeting new and interesting friends from all walks of life. Yes, you're all great!

No comments: