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View Full Version : Is it worth doing any work on this Ukulele?



1890
08-15-2017, 07:06 PM
Good evening all,

I have an old ukulele that my parents bought used at a garage sale back in the late '80's and it's been sitting around their house ever since. I'm fairly certain it was probably a super cheap, low end ukulele when it was made based on the fact that I can't find any information on this make/model, and there doesn't appear to be any kind of tone bars or bracing inside as far as I can see or feel with my finger.

The bridge also appears to be held on with a screw, but it's still noticeably lifting from the tension of the strings. My question is in the title. Is it worth trying to do anything with an old, cheap instrument like this, or is it a wall decoration?

Should the bridge get glued down or is it okay being left as is?

I'm a brand new beginner, so I don't really know how to judge the playability. There's no cracks in the wood or anything though, and the neck seems solid.

Thanks.

ukantor
08-15-2017, 07:39 PM
The uke looks basically sound, apart from the lifting bridge. It is, as you say, a cheapy - made of plywood, I believe. To answer your question - yes, it is worth doing work on it, but only if you can do it yourself. It would not be worth paying someone to put it right. You could buy a cheap, decent sounding, modern uke for much less than it would cost to have it fixed.

sequoia
08-15-2017, 08:08 PM
Short answer: No.

Just out of curiosity, I too did some research and found very little. I doubt that even Hohner could produce such a shoddy instrument and I'm guessing they licenced the name out to an Asian producer. Way to go Hohner! Nothing like giving some prestige to your brand!

Booli
08-15-2017, 08:34 PM
The uke looks basically sound, apart from the lifting bridge. It is, as you say, a cheapy - made of plywood, I believe. To answer your question - yes, it is worth doing work on it, but only if you can do it yourself. It would not be worth paying someone to put it right. You could buy a cheap, decent sounding, modern uke for much less than it would cost to have it fixed.

+1 to the above

However, I am not a luthier, but have done this repair myself on cheap ukes I got at garage sales, and it has worked for me...

If you use masking tape around the area of the bridge as it is, masking it off such that there will be a rectangle shape left when you remove the bridge...

- then remove the strings, and remove the screw(s) holding the bridge on, save the screws as you will re-use them later

- (I forgot this step, for to me it was obvious) - gently remove the bridge, you may need to use a spackle-knife, painter's pallet-knife, or even a butter knife (preferably without a serrated edge) to VERY gently pry, saw and cut away the old glue that remains in between the bridge and the top of the uke, being careful not to scratch up or move the masking tape which is your reference point for the bridge placement when gluing it back on

- then sand the bottom of the bridge lightly, removing any old glue residue, and the same for the now-exposed rectangle on the top of the uke, down to bare wood

- then use WOOD GLUE and NOT superglue or crazy glue, Elmers wood glue, or better yet ANY Titebond glue (what luthiers use), I've used both Elmers Craft Wood Glue and Titebond II myself, and so far nothing has come apart with these, yet. :)

- then apply glue to both the bottom of the bridge, and exposed rectangle area on the top, and then match them up, and re-insert the screw(s) into the previous holes, and tighten them

- then use a Q-tip, and/or a rag to remove all the glue squeeze-out, and then place a stack of 3-4 telephone books or 3-4 encyclopedias on top of the bridge, and leave all this in place without disturbing it, for AT LEAST 24 hours...

Then the bridge will be repaired and secured and should not come off.

If you leave it as is, with the strings under tension, it is simply a matter of time before the bridge flies off, at least slack the strings if you decide to keep it as a wallhanger.

Also, if you have C-clamps or cauls, you can apply pressure from the BOTTOM of the bridge from inside the uke as well as the top, and clamp the bridge down, (remove any more glue squeeze-out) and this will make sure the best adhesion takes place from the glue.

But a stack of books of no more than 5-8 lbs should be fine...

Also, once you place the books or clamps or cauls on the bridge, there may be additional glue squeeze-out, which you should wipe away as before...

A soprano string set, in total usually has no more than about 28 lbs of tension so the above should work, but you need to make sure all the old glue is removed, and you have to be patient and allow time for the glue to fully set and dry...

OTOH, you can get a brand new, playable uke, that sounds nice and has a full setup and inspection done by these vendors, for about $65-$100 from HMS, Mim's Ukes, or Uke Republic...

So one needs to decide:

- how much their time is worth?

- is this intended as a learning experience for instrument repair?

- if there is sentimental value that necessitates saving this instrument from the bonfire...:)
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Titchtheclown
08-16-2017, 01:18 AM
Made in Japan dates it to probably 1970s or early 80s at the latest as does the plain style. Hohner are a mega corporation who seem to make just about every type of musical instrument in the world though I think they are best known for harmonicas, or rather harmonicas are best known for Hohner. They were making lots of cheap guitars like objects in Japan in that era. They now have a pair of brands they sell ukes under, Lanikai and Kohala. I still have my Lanikai and it is a great beginner instrument.
The top on yours from the side view is clearly 3ply of some sort.
It is only the second uke I have seen with a screw in the bridge. The other one was Japanese too though it was a bit older and had other issues.
Apart from that follow the advice above. Mask around it, lift off clean off residue and glue back down.
If it works it works. If it doesn't pull it apart and have another go.
Above all have fun.

Hms
08-16-2017, 01:48 AM
Cheapy, made in Japan?
Anyway Lardy's Uke Database has this on Hohner.
http://database.ukulelecorner.co.uk/site/ukulelemakers/h/lanikai
h

Chopped Liver
08-16-2017, 01:58 AM
I did not know that is where Lanikai came from. My only concert is a Lanikai and it is a good uke.

I vote for saving this ukulele. Even if it is not the best, it is worth the chance to learn the repair and then gift it to a young person to tinker with if you decide not to keep it. You might make a ukulele convert!

(Yes, I know kids should have the best instrument they can afford, but some kids can't afford anything and would be thrilled with this).

hoosierhiver
08-16-2017, 05:14 AM
Speaking of Hohner, they were bought out a couple of years back by KHS.

1890
08-16-2017, 01:44 PM
Thank you for all of your helpful replies. Given the low value of the instrument, I think I'm comfortable trying to remove the bridge and get to glued back down. I was hoping to use it to get a friend initially interested in learning to play with me. I'll post an update if/when I get it done.