View Full Version : Leonardo Nunes Uke

03-03-2015, 06:48 AM
A friend of mine brought this uke to me and wanted me to refurbish. I told her I wouldn't touch it! She did a pretty extensive search to find out more but was unable to come up with much information. She asked me to ask you all if any of you might have info on the uke. Age and stuff like that. She told me there is a barley readable number written inside she thinks is 138

03-03-2015, 08:22 AM
For all your historic uke maker info ask Lardy Fatboy


03-03-2015, 11:09 PM
Probably made in the 1920s from Hawaiian koa wood. Nunes was one of the early Hawaiian makers. Worth a few hundred dollars if in decent playable condition (I'd guess $3-400, but I don't know the US market).

The pictures suggest that it doesn't need much refurbishment, assuming the action is OK, unless there are issues your pictures don't show.

The gap at the neck joint is ugly, but the picture is not clear enough to show whether that's really cosmetic. I think these were Spanish heel construction, so f there's no movement of the sides there it wouldn't suggest the neck is about to fall off.

I suspect the bridge is a mahogany replacement for the koa original, but it's similar in shape and so I could live with that if it's a player. The violin pegs look as if they've worn the peg holes over the years - either plug and re-drill, or find some friction tuners which are drop in replacements.

Otherwise, some buffing up with wax polish and it should sing out nicely.

03-04-2015, 12:35 AM
The gap at the neck is common on these old Koa ukes .. it's because koa wood shrinks over time .. sometimes the bracing pushes through the sides.

03-04-2015, 05:10 AM
Thanks for all your answers.
The thing is really very crude, poorly made. I can see a place on the fretboard where they cut a fret slot, left it and cut another in the right spot. I personally didn't think it was worth too much but you never know. It is playable but I'd just hang it on the wall and look at it.

03-04-2015, 06:21 AM
But it's also a piece of history from one of the first uke makers, thus its value. Not that poorly made if it's playable after 100 years, but much less attention to perfection of appearance than nowadays.

Besides which, if you get a good Hawaiian koa uke from that period they sound amazing!

03-04-2015, 10:00 AM
Definitely historical, definitely rough to say the least, definitely a wall hanger.

Michael Smith
03-04-2015, 12:39 PM
it looks like the 7th fret is in the wrong place. Maybe it came lose and instead of gluing it back in place they just cut a slot a little closer to the nut?

03-04-2015, 09:31 PM
I't's worth quite a lot to a collector..maybe as much as $1000
or more Look on Ebay. here http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1910-Vintage-ukulele-Manuel-Nunes-Sons-/261799647527?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cf4799927#ht_114wt_1190

03-05-2015, 05:08 AM
I looked it over again last night at band practice and the frets are all over the place and like I said it's very crude. ProfChris, the bridge is a replacement like you thought and you can see part of the footprint on the original. But, I started fooling around with it and it really does have a pretty decent tone. You sure wouldn't guess it by looking at it.
Ken, thanks for the ebay link! The gal that has it wants to trade to trade me for a future dulcimer. As she is a band mate I as gonna just give her one I have finished anyways.