9/25/2015

1948 Gibson "Uke 2" Soprano Ukulele




This uke came my way via trading with another uke fanatic and I'm very happy with it! I expected a 50s uke but after looking up the factory order number this turned out to be a '48 instead. It's stamped "uke 1" on the back on the inside but it's obviously a "uke 2" model with the extra binding and details. I've never actually played one of these latter-era Gibson ukes and I have to say that they're similar in some ways but quite a bit different from the prewar Gibson ukes in their overall sound and build. The feel is much the same, but the tone drifts somewhere between the bloomed-out mids of an old Gretsch soprano, the warmth of a Martin soprano, and the sweet treble sparkle of the prewar Gibsons. I like it -- it's very much that "classic mainland" tone.

The difference in build I'm talking about compared to the earlier ukes is mostly in the bracing style (more like the 50s Gretsch ukes and lacking a bridge plate and with squarer, simpler bracing) and also the slightly less-stiff kerfing job around the edges combined with perhaps an ever-so-slightly thinner top and back wood selection. It's an interesting experience for me to get to peek into stuff like this and see a deliberate change in design directly after the war.


The first thing one thinks when picking this up is: is this really 67 years old? It's clean, clean, clean and only has one tiny ding right in the middle of the top.

Aside from restringing, the only work I needed to do on it was nudge the nut slots ever-so-slightly lower.


The modern-script logo was brand new for 1948 and it looks like it was hand-painted on this one. Note the bone nut and modern "Waverly" pegs.


Nice rosewood board with pearl dots and perfect-condition frets...



The bridge has a nice tall bone saddle.



Compared to 1920s Gibson ukes, the back is a lot flatter and slightly thinner. A lot of the older ones have a much more "old peanut uke" sort of cut to them with a slightly-domed back and top.


The last owner installed some nice koa-buttoned modern Waverly tuners.







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