5/26/2016

1930s U-King Type Banjo Ukulele





These unknown-maker (maybe Richter?), "U-king-tailpiece" banjo-ukes always give me deja vu because I've worked on so many of them, now. This one's in decent shape, overall, but a bit grungy. It's a customer's instrument and received a fret level/dress, a new "neck bolt," a replacement bridge, much cleaning, and a good setup. It's playing just as it should and, remarkably, once these are setup correctly, they have pretty warm tone and lots of volume -- albeit with a lot of extra overtones that tend to need some damping to get them calmed-down.


A lot of these ukes have a 14" scale, but this one has a more-regular 13" soprano scale and that places the bridge in a "friendlier" place for warmer/fuller tone.



Luckily, the frets were fairly level so they only needed a light level/dress to get them in order.


The Grover Non-Tip bridge is period but not original to it. It's a 5/8" bridge which is interesting -- most banjo-ukes that don't have shimmed-up neck joints tend to favor 1/2" or lower bridges.



The rim and "flange" are all one piece and plated in nickel-silver.


A replacement set-screw was all that was needed to get the original friction pegs working smoothly.



Everything except the bridge and strings is original to the instrument.



The tailpiece on these runs over the "hump" of the riveted section of the tension hoop, so often the two middle strings need to be knotted-up and string up through the top holes as they won't fit into the space under the tailpiece because of the hump/bump.


Here's my new "neck bolt" -- these ukes never had a neck brace and as a result the joint was often "spongy" and moved around a lot (see how much extra space is around the dowel hole?) -- so I do this to every one of them. It's hidden under the lip of the rim, anyway.

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