5/28/2016

1920s/30s Oscar Schmidt/U-King Partser Banjo Ukulele





This is from a batch of customer jo-ukes that came in -- and it's the weirdest of them. Apparently, some time ago, someone took the neck from a 1920s Oscar Schmidt banjo ukulele and merged it with the rim from a 1930s U-King-style banjo uke. The merging of the two was rough in places, but they seemed to have at least made something that could make some noise.

My work was to straighten this out into a player, though a pretty wild backbow (or "dive") down towards the back of the neck from the 5th fret (it deflects down almost 1/16"!) on to the last fret makes that a difficult thing to do. Still, as a cowboy-chorder from frets 1-7 it plays "right-on" -- that's because the neck is "straight" from frets 1-5. The neck dive means that as you approach the 12th fret the action is 1/32" to 1/16" higher than it should be, however, which means playing up there is more awkward.

Fortunately, most of us chord a uke from 1-7 anyway, so it's not like we're missing much!



The mahogany neck has an original bone nut and later Grover Champion pegs (though they're a lot like what period pegs OS might have used).


I had a strong urge to add position dots, so I did -- in tiny white plastic.



Here you can see the one-piece metal rim design. The tailpiece looks like it's original hardware from the Oscar Schmidt uke, but the rim's hook/nuts are all newer replacements.



Originally, the neck was secured -- or there was an attempt to secure it, anyway -- with a parts-drawer neck brace. Whoever installed it had no idea how the brace worked and botched the job. My modification was to simplify the join and use a small screw/bolt that runs directly through the flange and into the heel, instead. This is much more steady and practical.


The dowel, hilariously, is too short for the rim, and the endbolt was clumsily passed through the rim in an attempt to hold the neck angle at the right position. I cut the end of that bolt off and wedged-up the end of the dowel with a shim to keep it secure on this side.


Here you can see the tall old 5/8" bridge that came with the uke to make-up for the fact that the neck has a backbow and needs some cranking-up to get it to play. I filled and re-slotted the ebony string-slots on the bridge to coax a hair more height out of it, too, during setup.



Just below the tailpiece you can see the hack-ish hole where the old Oscar Schmidt's endbolt was previously installed. Now it's just resting "at ease" in the slot and I've made use of the original flange's tailpiece-hanger hole instead... keeping the look clean and tidy.

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