11/17/2016

1940s Favilla Mahogany Soprano Ukulele





While a bit rough around the edges appearance-wise, this nice old Favilla uke only has one small (1") repaired hairline crack on the back, a light build, and a loud, warm, woody, gutsy voice. When you strum it really hard the top is actually so engaged via the strings that it almost distorts. When that happens you know you're playing a uke with plenty of volume at "comfort zone" strum-n-pick levels.

It's a little funky to date this one because of contrasting features but I'm pretty sure it's a late-40s make and it's definitely the "U2" model due to the three small dots on the fretboard. As usual it's made of the right stuff -- solid mahogany throughout and a rosewood fretboard. It's on the larger end for a soprano uke of this time with a 6 3/4" lower bout and 2 1/4" depth. This, plus the light build, is where all that sound is coming from, for sure.

My repairs included a neck reset (which was convoluted due to some sort of bizarre glue used to "reset it" in the past), a fret level/dress, adding some replacement (period) tuners from my parts-bin, and setting it up. It plays with 1/16" action at the 12th fret (perfect) and is strung with D'Addario Titanium strings which add to the wide-sounding sweet/woody vibe of the instrument.


The finish is Favilla's standard "satin" spray. It's acquired little speckles of this and that (water discoloration dots and some paint or something splatter) all over the body, though from a few feet away they're not all that obvious to a watcher. They can be removed but the process for doing so would inevitably wreck the rest of the "patina" on the uke and shine it up in ways that would look off -- so I left them and simply cleaned it up after work.



The frets are original brass and in good order. The neck shape is an interesting slightly-larger (front to back) C shape that recalls banjo ukes or 30s sopranos rather than the wider (side to side) and flatter shape I associate with 40s-on-up sopranos.

Check out the little end-piece of the fretboard -- I've had to fill/clean up a few chipped-out sections of it that were damaged in a prior "neck reset" that had hokily glued the angle off. I also had to clean-up the edges of the heel join a bit, too, which had some glue seep from the old "repair" before.


The only decoration is a simple, inlaid, rosette ring.


The saddle is a separate rosewood piece.











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