View Full Version : Need help with identifying wood used on a 1920s to 1940s Soprano

11-14-2015, 05:27 AM
Hello everybody,

I've just received a sweet little La Foley Ukulele from a member of this board.

I am amazed by everything this Uke has to offer. The look, the weight (only 290 gramms) and of course, most importantly, the tone.

I am quite sure that Mr. George La Foley used mahogany for the top and the neck but I am not so sure about the used wood for the sides and the back.
The colour tells me mahogany but the grain reminds me of walnut and redwood. It would make sense that he used mahogany too but if it is mahogany I've never seen mahogany looking like this. Those light spots could come from a water damage and those lines might be signs of old cracking wood?

Maybe someone of you can help me with this issue.

Thank you in advance


11-14-2015, 05:31 AM

11-14-2015, 07:23 AM
Kind of looks like birch...but it kind of doesn't look like birch.

11-15-2015, 01:02 AM
Yesterday I found an article of UK based Ukulele player and collector Rufus Yells.

According to this article George La Foley did usually use Birch for the sides and the back of his ukes so you could be right.

Was that a common combination back in those days? I find a mahogany top with birch sides and back rather uncommon?

11-15-2015, 08:38 AM
Birch was pretty widely used. Supposedly has a lot of tonal qualities in common with maple, and I seem to remember reading somewhere that some builders even called it "northern maple" in their advertising.

Doug W
11-15-2015, 08:50 AM
Kind of looks like birch...but it kind of doesn't look like birch.
This should be a bumper sticker!

11-15-2015, 11:06 AM
Tonewise it reminds me of several mahogany ukuleles I've played so far, just warmer and more voluminous ( I guess thats due to the ageing )

mm stan
11-15-2015, 11:37 AM
The top certainly looks mahogany, back and sides are hard to make out, but still has the black fine stridations
Even if the grain is unusal or spalted.

11-15-2015, 12:52 PM
This should be a bumper sticker!

I'll take two! :D

OP, it appears more birch than most anything else...

11-15-2015, 03:29 PM
Since I have no clue about what it is I find myself admiring it just as it is. It's a fine looking survivor. Sort of how I look at myself (on my better days). Ba dum dum! Ha!