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View Full Version : Can someone tell me about this Ukulele that's been in my family?



HoneyEyedGirl
02-19-2017, 03:24 PM
So this ukulele has been at my grandmas cottage for as long as I can remember, I can't quite find an exact match for it so I almost think it's a copy or something. Also for the fact my grandma used to let all the grandkids play with it, I'd like to think if it was old and expensive she would've kept it a little more safe from tiny destructive hands! But anyways, I've acquired it now and I'm just curious about it. (Please excuse me though I know absolutely nothing about ukuleles.) It's marked "The Gibson" and there's no other markings or serial numbers. It looks similar to the mid 1920s uke-1 models I found online except the design around the hole (lol I'm sure there's a name for it) is a color I haven't seen before.. sort of orange/yellow and black where as the ones I see look more like gold, but I'll try to attach some pictures. 979839798497985

EDW
02-19-2017, 03:39 PM
It is a Gibson uke 1 as you stated. Yours has the extended fingerboard. It is very hard to precisely date these, but it is possibly from the early 30's. They are nice playing instruments.

HoneyEyedGirl
02-19-2017, 04:56 PM
It is a Gibson uke 1 as you stated. Yours has the extended fingerboard. It is very hard to precisely date these, but it is possibly from the early 30's. They are nice playing instruments.

Thanks! I'm not planning on selling it but would you know roughly what it might be worth?

UkerDanno
02-19-2017, 05:52 PM
Thanks! I'm not planning on selling it but would you know roughly what it might be worth?

Looks like it's in pretty good shape, no cracks? A few dings and scratches. $300-$500?

SailingUke
02-19-2017, 06:01 PM
I believe "The Gibson" logo makes it a pre-1930.

HoneyEyedGirl
02-19-2017, 06:03 PM
Cool, good to know! I'm definitely going to hang on to it, clean it up a bit, and teach myself to play. It's such a neat little thing. Thank you guys for your help and information :)

TCK
02-19-2017, 06:22 PM
I can tell you this...keep it and play it into sawdust. What a great old Ukulele!

Ukulelerick9255
02-19-2017, 06:31 PM
Before making any changes or alterations consult an expert, this is still a vintage uke and could be worth more than you think.

vinceherman
02-20-2017, 02:49 AM
Here are some links to Jake Wildwood's digital museum.
https://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2014/01/c1930-gibson-u-1-soprano-ukulele.html
https://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2015/09/1920s-gibson-style-3-soprano-uke.html
Yours looks very similar to the first, but as EDW pointed out, it has the extended fingerboard, as seen on the second link.

EDW
02-20-2017, 03:14 AM
I believe "The Gibson" logo makes it a pre-1930.

From what I have read, the earlier logos were slanted and I believe that the ones that are straight across the headstock are a little later. From what I understand the extended fretboards were also from a little later. That said, there was no real consistency in the various changes in production as with the Martin ukes. It makes it very hard to accurately date the instruments other than within a range of years.

As to value, it all depends on condition and what someone is willing to pay. You can search eBay and online dealers to get a sense of the average price range.

It is a great uke to enjoy and play. A light cleaning should not hurt it at all, just be sure not to use anything too harsh or abrasive.

UkerDanno
02-20-2017, 03:51 AM
...I'm definitely going to hang on to it, clean it up a bit, and teach myself to play. It's such a neat little thing. Thank you guys for your help and information :)

Awesome! What a fine heirloom to have and play...

Get some new strings, Martins are a good start and readily available in most music stores. Search youtube for instructions on changing strings, it's not hard. Get some quality lemon oil, clean the fretboard with it. You can also clean the entire instrument with it, just wipe it on lightly and immediately wipe it off and buff. Don't let an excessive amount soak into the body, just a light wipe on and off.

enjoy!

river_driver
02-20-2017, 05:37 AM
Get some quality lemon oil, clean the fretboard with it. You can also clean the entire instrument with it, just wipe it on lightly and immediately wipe it off and buff. Don't let an excessive amount soak into the body, just a light wipe on and off.

I'm guessing it's got a nitrocellulose finish - is lemon oil safe to use on it?

Just to be on the safe side, I would use a microfiber cloth and plain water. Wring the cloth out so it is barely wet. Maybe overcautious, but it definitely won't cause any damage.

HoneyEyedGirl
02-20-2017, 08:43 AM
Thanks again for all the suggestions! I definitely wasn't planning on a harsh cleaning or refurbish or anything. I absolutely loooove antique things and strive to keep them as original as possible, I live in a 1920s Tudor of all things :) Just mainly wanted to get the dust off of it. Although I do have an issue with a couple of the strings going out of tune fairly quickly. What should I do about that?

RichM
02-20-2017, 08:55 AM
Thanks again for all the suggestions! I definitely wasn't planning on a harsh cleaning or refurbish or anything. I absolutely loooove antique things and strive to keep them as original as possible, I live in a 1920s Tudor of all things :) Just mainly wanted to get the dust off of it. Although I do have an issue with a couple of the strings going out of tune fairly quickly. What should I do about that?

Changing the strings may cure that. If not, your uke probably has friction pegs, which hold the strings with (you guessed it) friction. They should have a tiny screw in the back. Go ahead and tighten that screw a little bit until your strings stay in tune. A little adjustment is all that's necessary-- if you tighten it too much, your pegs might not move at all (or you might crack the buttons).

HoneyEyedGirl
02-20-2017, 11:50 AM
Changing the strings may cure that. If not, your uke probably has friction pegs, which hold the strings with (you guessed it) friction. They should have a tiny screw in the back. Go ahead and tighten that screw a little bit until your strings stay in tune. A little adjustment is all that's necessary-- if you tighten it too much, your pegs might not move at all (or you might crack the buttons).

Aha! They do indeed have screws, I'll be sure to be careful. The strings are very old, I wouldn't be surprised if they were never changed, so they're probably most of the problem. If the pegs do need to be tightened hopefully it's only a minor adjustment.

SailingUke
02-20-2017, 04:50 PM
Aha! They do indeed have screws, I'll be sure to be careful. The strings are very old, I wouldn't be surprised if they were never changed, so they're probably most of the problem. If the pegs do need to be tightened hopefully it's only a minor adjustment.

On my old ukes I have taken the pegs apart and cleaned them and adjusted them and they hold well.

UkerDanno
02-21-2017, 04:14 AM
I'm guessing it's got a nitrocellulose finish - is lemon oil safe to use on it?

I use it on my 1930's Martin, just enough to wipe on and wipe off. I use a square of toilet paper folded into quarters and a couple drops of lemon oil. Start with cleaning and treating the fretboard...

PhilUSAFRet
02-21-2017, 09:45 PM
Make sure you know how to clean it "correctly" or you could possibly lower it's value.

Rob Uker
02-22-2017, 01:18 AM
Wow. That is a treasure.

Tudorp
02-22-2017, 04:47 AM
if you carefully clean up the pegs, apply a little talc (powder) to the surfaces. That will help them grip a little better.