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Author Topic: Who made this uke?  (Read 4299 times)

Tom

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Who made this uke?
« on: May 09, 2012, 12:59:45 AM »
This evening at uke practice I was allowed privileged to play an aging 'no-name' banjo uke owned by a member of the band and a long-time uke player (this lady has played uke for 60 years). I have the instrument at home for the next week, courtesy of the owner.

The uke was acquired several years ago from the estate of a passed band member, and it's origins are unknown. There are no markings to suggest who the manufacturer might be, and it's clearly a little the worse for wear. Damage is evident in the fretboard, the back of the neck, the back and sides of the body. The drum (skin) is also a little the worse for wear. The Mother-of-Pearl inlay in the neck suggests that this is not be a home-made uke or an el cheapo.

Anyone have any clue or suggestions who the manufacturer might be?
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 03:21:58 AM by Tom »
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Tom

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Re: Who made this uke?
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2012, 01:18:48 AM »
Here's an interesting list of banjo uke manufacturers with lots of linked photos. Regrettably, it doesn't help identify the origins of this uke.
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Luca1369

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Re: Who made this uke?
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2012, 01:45:31 AM »
Tom,

    Have you tried to remove the drum to see if there are any markings underneath?
Steve
1990 Fleetwood Southwind 36'
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For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.
I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
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Tom

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Re: Who made this uke?
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2012, 01:56:37 AM »
Good suggestion Steve, thanks. I wouldn't attempt to remove the drum, but I might remove the back. OTOH since this isn't my instrument, I'm reluctant to do that. Any issues with removing the back? It appears to be held by just one screw.
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Tom

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Re: Who made this uke?
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2012, 03:12:32 AM »
I worked up the courage to remove the back  :o   There's no sign of any markings that might suggest the name of the manufacturer. I did, however, note the damage in the center of the back, probably due to over-tightening.

Thanks again for the suggestion Steve.
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Luca1369

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Re: Who made this uke?
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2012, 06:32:50 AM »
I worked up the courage to remove the back  :o   There's no sign of any markings that might suggest the name of the manufacturer. I did, however, note the damage in the center of the back, probably due to over-tightening.

Thanks again for the suggestion Steve.

I was hoping there would be a stamp or sticker inside the body.  Yes, the damage to the back was visible from the outside before you ever removed it.  The indent around the screw hinted at the damage.  You might also check both sides of that resonator strut for some markings.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 06:38:32 AM by Luca1369 »
Steve
1990 Fleetwood Southwind 36'
http://seaworthy.com

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.
I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
Robert Louis Stevenson

A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tsu (570-490 BC)

Tom

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Re: Who made this uke?
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2012, 08:41:51 AM »
Aye, no clues inside Steve (I took the resonator off again and took a closer look).

I asked a guy who runs a banjo uke blog and answers questions, and he seems to think it might be a British design (Dallas or Houghton), or possibly Richter from Chicago. Off to do more research on these brands.
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Luca1369

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Re: Who made this uke?
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2012, 09:13:23 AM »
I did a bit of research as well.  Judging solely by the fact that they used pearloid on their fretboards exetensively I thought perhaps it was a Stromberg or Concertina (Stromberg became Kay).  But the use of pearloid was the only common denominator.  Other parts looked similar but nothing identical.

I also looked at a Maxitone (made by Richter) judging solely by the unique "Gumby" headstock shape.  However, it seems that this headstock would have two screwholes for a name plate, perhaps not on the pearloid version if they did indeed manufacture one.  You've got your work cut out for you finding the origins of this instrument.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?42546-New-(Old)-Banjo-Uke-Day!
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 09:34:52 AM by Luca1369 »
Steve
1990 Fleetwood Southwind 36'
http://seaworthy.com

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.
I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
Robert Louis Stevenson

A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tsu (570-490 BC)

Tom

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Re: Who made this uke?
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2012, 09:37:51 AM »
A big thanks for the research Steve. The owner of the blog gave me the name of someone in the UK, and I've sent him an email to see if he recognizes it.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Who made this uke?
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2012, 09:51:25 AM »
I would bet it was a DIY project someone made at home. It would be pretty easy to build.
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Tom

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Re: Who made this uke?
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2012, 10:27:18 AM »
Aye, that thought crossed my mind Tom. There are lots of web sites showing how to make them and selling the parts but, looking at the wear & tear and the tarnished hardware, I suspect this was made long before that stuff got posted on the internet.

Right now, I'm just trying to satisfy my curiosity, and provide some info to the owner.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Who made this uke?
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2012, 10:52:19 AM »
I agree that it predates the Internet. However a lot of those parts are standard off the shelf guitar and drum parts. The ones that are not look home made to me. I will be curious to see if you can figure this one out.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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Tom

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Re: Who made this uke?
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2012, 06:45:20 PM »
A little progress, maybe .... the blog owner gave me a contact in the UK, and I sent him an email with one photograph (didn't want to load up his mailbox with unwanted photos). He responded, saying he thinks he knows who made this instrument, but asked for more photos before making a definite identification.

Meanwhile, I'd been plodding through several long lists of manufacturers, including:

I'm posting the links for future reference.
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Luca1369

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Re: Who made this uke?
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2012, 06:52:47 PM »
The link to American manufacturers is identical to the first link you posted.  I'll be interested in learning who built the uke.
Steve
1990 Fleetwood Southwind 36'
http://seaworthy.com

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.
I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
Robert Louis Stevenson

A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tsu (570-490 BC)

Tom

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Re: Who made this uke?
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2012, 06:56:58 PM »
Aye you're right Steve. I wanted to keep the links together, and I probably should have added the second link to my prior message.

I'd be interested too, although the guy hasn't given me any hint about which side of the Atlantic (or Pacific) it was made.
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