3/29/2016

1920s Stromberg-Voisinet/Kay Resonator Banjo Ukulele




A customer of mine bought this somewhere out there on the net and when it arrived at his home the setup was dodgy. He attempted a bit of fixing and then sent it up here. After about half an hour or so, it's good to go. I swapped the original neck brace for a bolted-neck joint (more stability as the dowel was a little loose/wiggly) and shimmed the dowel's through-hole to get the neck stabilized (ie, so it wouldn't twist left/right), filled and reslotted the nut, added a new bridge, and set it up. The result? A loud, forward, Formby-esque jo-uke that really dishes it.

Like a lot of other Kay/SV-made banjo ukes with 8" rims, this one has a 14" scale length and narrow/fast "mandolin-ish" neck shape. This makes it a bit easier to do some of those moving-chord vaudeville-style songs and solos. I've titled this post as "1920s" but it could easily be early-30s as well.


The last guy to work on this installed a vintage skin head backwards -- usually the Joseph Rogers branding is found on the rear of good-quality old skin heads. It's kinda cute, though, with it plastered on the front! The head install was nice and clean, though.


Original rosewood nut and nicer-grade Waverly-style pegs...


...and the usual dyed-maple, pearl-dot Chicago-style fretboard.


The bridge that came with this was too low after setup work, so I swapped it with a nice-grade all-maple bridge and reslotted it for uke stringing. There's muting foam pads both behind the head between the dowel and the head near the neck and also under the tailpiece cover to cut overtones. This little addition is necessary for jo-uke players who want good, clean tone.


It's up for debate whether the resonator (Elton-branded) is original or not. It may be, however, because the color matches so well with the mahogany on the rim itself.





The resonator is a nice "turned" style of solid mahogany rather than laminate/molded. The uke plays spot-on with 1/16" action at the 12th fret.

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