5/24/2017

1930s Lyon & Healy-made Banjo Ukulele





I'm fairly certain this soprano jo-uke was made by Lyon & Healy in the late 20s or early 30s. It has the green dots/trim found on many early-30s L&H uke products and a heel shape, wide nut, and neck style I'm familiar with Camp Ukes and some of their Mauna Loa banjo ukes. It's a customer's instrument and was sent over for a going-through.

Work included a fret level/dress, knock-back of the neck angle and an additional bolt installed internally (to keep the neck stable), some extra washers for the tuners, a tiny patch to a tiny hole on the head, new bridge, removal of some grandiose-looking faux-gems in the headstock, and replacement of all nails holding hardware down with tiny screws. I also pushed the resonator backplate out 1/8" via some finish washers so more sound would pop out.

The result is quite startling -- it's loud, proud, and even-sounding with a nice chop and it plays as it should, too, with 1/16" action at the 12th fret. The neck has a hair of backbow but I worked around it for the most part.


"Annie" must've received the uke in '58, as it was definitely made in the late 20s or early 30s.



I love the green dots!




Originally the resonator was simply nailed down flush with the back of the rim. Pushing it out a little bit lets sound escape from the sides of the instrument and greatly increases the volume.



While the neck might be poplar or something similar, the body is something intederminate with maple veneer on all its edges.






The tailpiece got screw-down (rather than nail) attachment, too.


I used a wider-stance bridge on this because the head-tensioning on these is only approximate and high humidity might sag the head a bit. With a wider stance, it's less likely for the bridge to sink to the point it becomes unplayable.

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