5/28/2016

1920s Slingerland-Style "Victory" Banjo Ukulele





What are the chances that two separate customers have the same-model/brand banjo uke but in two different colors and needing the same work in at the same time? The last one was also the first time I'd seen the "Victory" brand on a Slingerland-type product, too.

Anyhow, this one needed the "usual work" -- a light fret level/dress, new bridge, and various adjustments and cleaning to get it going "pat." It's now there, and playing with spot-on 1/16" action at the 12th fret. These are nice, rugged, banjo ukes and I find the ones like this (in natural finish over the maple) to be awfully easy on the eyes, despite their simplicity. This model has no tonering and so the tone is warm, sweet, and a little on the mellow/quiet side. There are versions with giant "hoop" tonerings that can be ear-piercingly loud, however, and with a shrill splat of a voice (until tamed-down).



The tuners are newer Grover 2B friction pegs and I hid an old, botched attempt by someone to sink the Grover ferrules in the headstock (they're dished on the bottom) with some finish washers as "ferrules," instead.


The maple neck is dead straight and the frets are in good order. This has pearl position dots.


The long, 14" scale puts the bridge near the edge of the head. While this isn't an ideal location tone-wise (more central = sweeter/warmer/louder), it does mean that if the head slacks-up that the string tension won't press-in as much on the head and make the action too low to play without buzzing all over.

After studying enough of these models, I'm pretty sure that was the reasoning from the switch (mid-20s?) from the regular 13" scale to the longer 14" scale on these Slingerland-type ukes. It's also possible that I'm reading into it too much and the switch was to "half-way-it" between a scale suited to their standard 7" rims (like this one) and their less-common, but still fairly-regular 8" rims.







The friction-set wedge in the dowel is what originally set the neck nice and tight to the rim, though if you look closely you can see that I've countersunk a screw reinforcement through the rim and into the heel, too. Better safe than sorry, I say. I like that joint to be rigid and practical -- as most folks don't even think that their neck brace (that wedge) will loosen-up on them (as they do -- every year, when the weather changes).


The hardware, aside from the tuners and my bridge addition, is all-original. You can also see a small shim-up at the end of the fretboard. That was just to get better back-angle so a regular 1/2" bridge would do the trick.



The tailpiece accepts loop and ball-end strings. I knot my uke-strings with granny-knots into one another until I make a ball big enough to mount between the tabs (or, on regular ukes, in the bridge slots).

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