PDA

View Full Version : "New" Baritone! Lyra, anyone?



Dannn
05-29-2010, 01:18 PM
I have been very passively looking for a vintage baritone on ebay for 6 months or so. My requirements were pretty simple: old, cheap, playable (or close to it). I found this Lyra, and I was pretty fascinated. The only knock on the seller's description was a broken tuning peg. No biggie.

I could find almost no info about these.

The Tiki Kings database (http://www.tikiking.com/uke_db/Lyradb.html) said this: Made in USA, possibly by Regal. There have also been sightings of a Lyra Uke made in Japan, as well as one with a "Maxitone" headstock decal, and a "Lyra" soundhole label with a Bruno trademark in the center. That sounded promising, but not quite right.

Then I found this: http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2009/02/c1950s-lyra-baritone-ukulele.html That looked exactly right. West Germany? Interesting. Superior tone, markedly better than Harmony? Where do I sign up?

Well, I won the auction, well under budget. It left me enough to replace the tuners with a new set of Grover 85Bs and get a set of Aquila DGBEs from MGM. It arrived yesterday looking pretty shabby and, contrary to the ebay description, sporting a few cracks. I glued up the cracks, gave it a light coat of lemon oil, kissed it with some fine steel wool, and replaced the tuners and strings. After an hour or so of work, it looked quite nice. I started playing it this morning. I haven't ever played a baritone before, so I don't really have a reference for comparison. That being said, this thing sounds fantastic. Very rich, long sustains, good volume. It definitely sounds more like a guitar than a uke, but I love it. It seems a little more blonde than the pictures show. I suppose it is probably mahogany, but the back has a koa-like look to me. Incidentally, the front, back, and sides are each made of one piece. The whole neck/fingerboard/headstock assembly is one piece as well.

Has anyone seen one of these before? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

http://i511.photobucket.com/albums/s360/dan_olson/Lyra%20Bari/lyra1.jpg http://i511.photobucket.com/albums/s360/dan_olson/Lyra%20Bari/lyra2.jpg http://i511.photobucket.com/albums/s360/dan_olson/Lyra%20Bari/lyra3.jpg http://i511.photobucket.com/albums/s360/dan_olson/Lyra%20Bari/lyra4.jpg

Dannn
05-29-2010, 01:19 PM
More pics:
http://i511.photobucket.com/albums/s360/dan_olson/Lyra%20Bari/lyra5.jpg http://i511.photobucket.com/albums/s360/dan_olson/Lyra%20Bari/lyra6.jpg http://i511.photobucket.com/albums/s360/dan_olson/Lyra%20Bari/lyra7.jpg http://i511.photobucket.com/albums/s360/dan_olson/Lyra%20Bari/lyra8.jpg

Pippin
05-30-2010, 02:12 AM
Looks pretty nice. I have been playing baritone ukes since about 1968 and my favorite is my Ohana BK-32... solid mahogany and very sweet. I had a vintage Harmony in 1968 that was wonderful but it disappeared years ago when I was first married and don't know if it will ever turn up again. It was almost identical to your new bari. Enjoy it.

ichadwick
07-08-2010, 01:08 PM
Interesting. I am currently discussing a purchase of a Lyra from a fellow Canadian. Is this laminate or solid wood?

Lori
07-08-2010, 02:20 PM
Congrats on the nice uke. Looks pretty good, especially after your tender loving care. Someday, maybe I will get a baritone too. Or maybe a small guitar.
–Lori

ichadwick
07-09-2010, 01:55 AM
Congrats on the nice uke. Looks pretty good, especially after your tender loving care. Someday, maybe I will get a baritone too. Or maybe a small guitar.
–Lori
Quite a difference between a baritone uke and a micro-guitar. Those extra strings confound things I've worked hard to unlearn.

GaryC1968
07-09-2010, 04:31 AM
Quite a difference between a baritone uke and a micro-guitar. Those extra strings confound things I've worked hard to unlearn.

I completely agree. I tell everyone I'm 6-string challenged. :cool:

Dannn
07-09-2010, 08:22 PM
Interesting. I am currently discussing a purchase of a Lyra from a fellow Canadian. Is this laminate or solid wood?

This one is definitely solid wood. Be careful, though. There seem to be a number of different Lyras out there. This one was made in West Germany, but the stamp is just barely visible.

Also, I just tried new strings. I wasn't crazy about the feel of the wound strings, and after about 6 weeks the D string was looking pretty shabby at the 2nd fret. So I tried a set of all fluorocarbon. I'm a bit disappointed. The sound, especially the bass end, is pretty weak compared to the wound aquilas. The D string is also very floppy feeling. I may have to switch back to aquilas and just get over the feel of the wound strings.

I also added strap buttons (and a strap!). Lately I've been into straps, and especially with the big baritone, I had a harder time holding it while standing up.

Lori
07-09-2010, 08:32 PM
Quite a difference between a baritone uke and a micro-guitar. Those extra strings confound things I've worked hard to unlearn.
I am not too worried about that. I have a pretty solid guitar background, and so I don't think it will be a problem. I didn't have much trouble going from 6 string classical guitar to 5 string banjo either. But, the ukulele has fascinated me the most. They are sooo cool! I actually think a baritone would confuse me more than a quarter sized guitar. They might be a bit too similar.
–Lori

ichadwick
07-12-2010, 12:37 PM
This one is definitely solid wood. Be careful, though. There seem to be a number of different Lyras out there. This one was made in West Germany, but the stamp is just barely visible.
Imported by or distributed by a West German company, but not made by them, from what I have read. Made in Japan. And possibly the same uke sold under the Regal label as well. There was another Lyra, a trademark of Bruno and Sons, that lasted at least until WWII, but not sure of their history after that. The 1920s Lyra imported by Bruno was made in Hawaii.

Dannn
07-12-2010, 05:17 PM
Imported by or distributed by a West German company, but not made by them, from what I have read. Made in Japan. And possibly the same uke sold under the Regal label as well.

Whoa, where did you find that? I've been scouring the internets for information about these.

ichadwick
07-13-2010, 01:36 AM
Whoa, where did you find that? I've been scouring the internets for information about these.
Dig deep. There are several comments on sites about Lyra instruments from this era with "Made in Japan" stickers, and at least one mandolin site is adamant Lyra mandos were made by Regal and re-labelled. Bruno (which held the trademark for the earlier Lyra, and possibly for this later model) also seems to have re-branded Harmony instruments under the Lyra name, according to other sites. None of this is confirmed, and I'm still digging into it. It's just very, very unlikely that three countries (Japan, USA and West Germany have been identified) were all making the same instrument at the same time in different factories. Lyra was a budget line, after all, and by the 1950s, the popularity of ukes was falling considerably, so why would someone keep an expensive production line in the West open for a budget line when less expensive imports were readily available? It's far more likely that the basic body was imported from Japan, and tuners, strings and saddle (with an inside label) were added in the home country - just enough to justify the "made in" sticker.

Also, during that era, many companies were buying instruments from a large Japanese factory that also made Diastone, Ibanez, Yamaha, Martin and other companies' products. A lot of these were the same model, just different labels. The finish, decoration or the top (laminate or solid) would determine whether it was a budget or upscale model. They had a good reputation, and their instruments stand up well today. In the early 1970s, many of these companies opened their own plants to manufacture instruments, and others (especially the budget lines) went to plants in Korea.