2/08/2015

1930s Unmarked Mahogany Soprano Uke




This is a smart-sounding little all-mahogany soprano uke that's roughly similar to ukes I'm familiar with from the 30s branded with the PMICo mark. I really don't know who made these for sure but they share some design features in common: extremely thin, lightly-braced tops and longer scale lengths (this is 13 1/2" vs the normal 13" soprano scale for the time).

There was already a bunch of old functional seam repairs and an apparent old neck reset done on this uke (a little sloppy on the glue!) but it did need a bridge reglue, new nut, fret level/dress, replacement tuner parts, and a couple top crack (hairline) repair/fill/cleat jobs. All that's been done and this is a quite loud, full-sounding instrument -- as you'd expect with that thin top. It's not refined like a Martin or balanced like a Gibson but more raw and forceful and will certainly keep pace when played with other instruments. I like!


The extra-wide 2-ply binding looks great framing the medium-brown mahogany.


Bone from my scraps bin gave me a good new nut.


The fretboard is thin rosewood and all the brass frets are original. The neck "slopes down" just slightly past the 8th fret or so to the 12th fret. This means that, if these frets were overall perfectly level the action would theoretically be spot-on at 1/16" but at the 12th it's actually 3/32" from fret top to string bottom.

This is only because of the little dip at the end of the board and... from a layman's perspective... is actually really useful if you're like me and you like to strum split-strokes around the 10th fret to neck join as you have a hair more clearance.


I love that weird elongated "peanut" shape.


It's actually got a bone saddle. Neat.




There's plenty of scratching, scuffing, and usewear all over the uke. The back and sides are, thankfully, crack-free.


Three of these pegs are original and one's from my bin but I've given them all some extra washers for smoother turning. They're all working just fine.


You can see a bit of the excess glue left over from old seam repairs. I've chipped a lot of the stuff off but a bit remains.



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