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UkuleleTurk
08-09-2017, 06:31 PM
My brother's grandfather collects and restores old instruments, I've heard stories about the literal hundreds of mandolins, banjos, guitars, and violins in his houses (yes plural), I've also heard that he also has some unique instruments as well. I started following him on Facebook because he is always posting pictures of his finds.
One day I get a message from him saying he has a few ukuleles and would like me to visit him next time I'm working in his area.
I usually travel hundreds of miles for work so I always have at least one uke with me to keep me occupied in hotels. This week I had my Gretsch Guitalele and thought he would get a kick out of it, so I called him up and met him at his house.
After looking at piles of instruments, and a quick tour of his shop, he takes out his small collection of ukes. I can't remember what all the brands were but they were all old. He even had a couple banjoleles and one of them was really heavy. There was one that really took my eye, and it was the roughest looking one of the bunch. It was a triangled​ body Ukulele made out of metal, and was army green.
I studied this for a while and asked him what it was, he said he didn't know. We speculated about where it might of came from, school metal shop, bored Fab worker, ext but after a few hours I told him I better get to the hotel before they give my room away and he gave it to me. Said I would make better use of it then he would, even if all I did was hang it on a wall.

Now with the back story out of the way, this all happened yesterday lol, I'll post some pictures. I'm curious if anyone has seen anything like it and if they would know where it came from.
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OhioBelle
08-10-2017, 12:55 AM
Very interesting, Turk! Even more so with the backstory/family collection. Hope someone here can help solve the puzzle.

Thanks for sharing!

Booli
08-10-2017, 02:10 AM
Dayum! That thing looks built like a TANK, or FROM a tank LOL...

Maybe it was an 'Army' uke, rugged enough for the battlefield?

I also really enjoyed the story. hopefully the provenance can be sorted out as I'd think that someone on UU knows if this was a production model, or more likely a one-off...

But how does it SOUND? (hint...hint...)

maki66
08-10-2017, 02:47 AM
The metal work looks like something a sheet metal man (duct work guy) would use in fabrication. I would guess its a one off by someone with that background, if it sounds good it would make and outstandingly rugged car ukulele, probly near impervious to heat.

UkeNukem
08-10-2017, 08:31 AM
When I saw that on your other post I just thought it was distressed wood. That sure is unique and whoever made it really thought through the design.

1931jim
08-10-2017, 08:39 AM
I liked that very much. Especially since I like heavy metal music. Thank you for the story and sharing. Jim.

Futurethink
08-10-2017, 10:11 AM
Looks like a variation of a Wolfelele.
http://m.wolfelele.com/Instructions---Diagrams.html
Some schools have students build these, then play in an 'ukulele band.
One such school was featured in "The Mighty Uke" movie.

UkuleleTurk
08-10-2017, 03:03 PM
Dayum! That thing looks built like a TANK, or FROM a tank LOL...

Maybe it was an 'Army' uke, rugged enough for the battlefield?

I also really enjoyed the story. hopefully the provenance can be sorted out as I'd think that someone on UU knows if this was a production model, or more likely a one-off...

But how does it SOUND? (hint...hint...)

Like this lol

https://youtu.be/4Va1ZI_dtJg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Va1ZI_dtJg&feature=youtu.be

Booli
08-10-2017, 04:38 PM
Thanks for sharing the sound demo. It does not sound too bad at all. I bet with the right strings the tone might be improved, but as it is, it's very neat! :)

UkuleleTurk
08-10-2017, 05:28 PM
I'm not sure how old these strings are so I'm planning on replacing them.
I'm also thinking about sand blasting it and possibly copper plate it
It kind of looks like it was chrome at first, then someone painted army green over it

Doug W
08-10-2017, 05:37 PM
Top of the list of the most unique ukes this year and a good story to go with it.

Patrick Madsen
08-10-2017, 06:30 PM
The paint looks military as does the metal. Can you decipher the scratched writing. It may have been made by a GI bidding their time inside the wire; base. I gave my daughter a couple of shell casings shaped into the Virgin Mary by her great great uncle in the trenches between going "Over the Top" during WWI. They made do with what was around. If it was chrome at first and painted army green over it, it makes sense. You don't want anything shiney around and if it is, dull it up. Closet thing around would be the paint. Course in the early days, that green paint was everywhere.

Whatever it is, It has some history. For myself, it has more character the way it is than making it shiney copper. That'd be like taking an old scratched up Martin and refinishing it. It'd sure take any value out of it's uniqueness

dwh
08-10-2017, 08:01 PM
Looks like a modified ammo can.

librainian
08-10-2017, 08:14 PM
That's what I was thinking. I was reading an article recently about trench art, object made in the trenches during WWI and could imagine something like this being made during that time by some soldier. Ukes were still not widely distributed then but were certainly around in WWI. A fanciful thought to be sure but somehow romantic.

Patrick Madsen
08-10-2017, 09:00 PM
My thoughts too on it looking like an ammo box.

Actually ukes were around in WWII. We did a gig at an assisted living facility. A resident came up and said on the way home, after the war, he took care of the music room. It was filled with instruments and lots of ukes. He mentioned when the supply ships came along side, there were always available ukes if they needed them. One thing he remembered was they would have to acquisition about a dozen copies of Sentimental Journey each time as the record would get worn out from being played so many times over the speaker system on board.

Graham Greenbag
08-10-2017, 11:57 PM
To me it looks like something manufactured in a sheet metal workshop equipped with power presses. The ring around the sound hole looks pressed out to me and the frets looked pressed out too, that's virtually impossible to do by hand. I can't make it out completely on the pictures but to me it looks like it has been welded together in places. It might have been made as an experiment or mass produced - I think the later more likely - and the fact that it's green and metal does make me think: 'army issue' for 'in field' use. I wonder what scale length it is and how much it lost in sound by being made in metal as opposed to wood, whatever it's an interesting example of the high utility value of flat sided instruments. Thanks for sharing the video, it's not hard to see now how one of these metal Ukes might keep a GI happily occupied making quite passable music - I'd have thought that those (happy and occupied) would be valued by those commanding him too.

Dating it is a virtually a wild guess at the moment. The Uke wasn't that popular (?) pre 1918 so I'm thinking ww2 and Vietnam. The tuning pegs are threaded items and the thread type used (pre-metrication?) might give some broad clue to age. The thread type looks a bit course for the wing nut to lock it really securely, but cleaning up the surfaces might help it lock and so keep in tune - there's no doubt a knack to it.

UkuleleTurk
08-12-2017, 09:55 PM
There are too many people I would want to quote, so I'll just make a "too all" comment, but as far as the army green goes, judging by how the green paint is flaking off and I am seeing shiny layer (maybe chrome) under it makes me think someone painted it. A lot of the scratchings look like skateboard logos/graffiti with a lot of swear words mixed in. I'm not opposed to offending people, but everytime I play this I end up covered in flakes of green paint and chrome.
I'm seriously thinking bout removing the clear strings, sandblasting the the uke, then copper plating the whole thing.
I may make some adjustments to the bridge as the action is a bit high there, and maybe put some real frets in somehow
I'm not sure what to do about the tuning pegs, they are unique but they are really hard to tune, and they don't stay tuned

DanY
08-12-2017, 10:56 PM
Anyone remember that 2015 movie, Mad Max: Fury Road with the flame throwing guitar player? This uke is one of those instruments you could actually see in the Mad Max universe. Attach a flame thrower onto this uke and now we're talking!

https://68.media.tumblr.com/4c1e0584846b64ad316ecd119b323443/tumblr_inline_npd0rxDFQm1srausu_500.gif

Cornfield
08-13-2017, 02:50 AM
I'm not sure how old these strings are so I'm planning on replacing them.
I'm also thinking about sand blasting it and possibly copper plate it
It kind of looks like it was chrome at first, then someone painted army green over it


IMHO, change the strings and keep the patina.

Graham Greenbag
08-13-2017, 10:27 AM
I'm not sure what to do about the tuning pegs, they are unique but they are really hard to tune, and they don't stay tuned

The wing nuts act as locknuts to stop the spindles being pulled around by the strings. I think it would be worthwhile trying a wing nut spanner in the hope of getting a firmer locking action - spanners are commercially available but seemed expensive to me, I had in mind a length of sheet metal with a closed end slot through it big enough to take the nuts body and wings. Put a plain washers between the wing nuts and the Uke's body too. Look at the direction that the strings are wound around the thumb screws, the trension in the strings and direction of winding needs to be such that the strings pull the screws to rotate into the Uke - the locknuts should bind better that way.

Nickie
08-13-2017, 02:49 PM
This was apparently built to scare the sh-- outta the enemy on the front lines, like bagpipes were....if I played it, the soldiers would run for their lives!
I wouldn't be able to leave it alone, yeah, copper it!

Strumdaddy
08-13-2017, 04:18 PM
It's one of the early Fluke prototypes !!

DanY
08-13-2017, 06:25 PM
This was apparently built to scare the sh-- outta the enemy on the front lines, like bagpipes were....if I played it, the soldiers would run for their lives!
I wouldn't be able to leave it alone, yeah, copper it!

Lol totally agree!

Jeffelele
08-13-2017, 09:13 PM
Are they still making Antiques Roadshow? Sounds like one for them.

You used to be able to write to the Smithsonian and ask them if they know anything or have any leads.

Might have some folk art value.

Might be a great story in there.

igorthebarbarian
08-14-2017, 12:19 PM
Equal parts musical instrument/home defense tool.