2/19/2017

1930s Regal-made Dragon-decal "Super Soprano" Ukulele







Update: This uke is now wearing a set of $70 Gotoh UPT geared pegs. This is a nice upgrade. I also currently have it strung low-G and you can hear an open-F tuning soundclip of that above (2nd clip). Below are pics of the new tuners:




Now back to the original post...

I spied this uke on eBay a few weeks ago and the kids (they're dragon fans) and I decided we had to have it. It came in yesterday and after wedging the neck angle back, shaving and regluing the bridge, and refretting it -- it's turned-out a super player with a loud, simple, and up-front tone. I think it'll be fun to chop-chord on with the jam group. I have it setup for 3/32" action at the 12th fret so it can be fingerpicked or strummed with gusto. Because of the new frets, it "feels" essentially like the "standard strummy" 1/16" I usually set sopranos up for.

The weird bit about this uke is its construction. It's what I'd call a "super soprano" uke as it has a concert-sized body mated to a 14" scale soprano neck. It was made by Regal in the 30s and the whole thing is made from thin, solid birch save the neck which is poplar. Everything is original on it save the frets and new ebony nut, and because it had an original chip case it's been preserved extremely well -- no cracks and a fairly-clean finish (for a painted uke).


Obviously, the instrument sports the period vogue for China-centric products but, as usual, gets it a bit wrong. Note the wings on the dragon? It looks more like a Welsh wyvern... but I digress.



The green-yellow celluloid fretboard sure looks snazzy but these things almost always require a refret (as seen here) since the original frets tend to fall out with the celluloid's swelling and contracting. I added side-dots at the same time.



You can't see it, but I drilled tiny holes through the top under the string-holder slots to afford the player the option to either ball-up and string as-normal or put the string-ends through the top, pull them out through the soundhole, and ball them up that way so they snug-up under the soundboard. That's my own preference and since the holes are hidden, they're not obvious.





I can see a future that involves Gotoh UPTs on this headstock...






The original case is in excellent shape, too.

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