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View Full Version : 1920's Banjolele restoration.



freshthreat
06-07-2010, 01:22 PM
Y'all may remember me from the $20 Kamaka thread...well this is what I had gone to see about when I picked that up from a craigslist add. This banjolele was in pretty bad shape when I got to it, it had been water damaged at some point and the fingerboard had fallen off into little ebony bits (which came with it in a little plastic baggy) and the rim was dripping with rust. Luckily enough the neck was still dead strait so getting a new finger board wont be too much of a hassle.

Here it is when I first got it...
http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb149/freshthreat/banjokamaka002.jpg

Some #00000 steel wool and a lot of elbow grease took care of the rust, a new goatskin head was needed (nasty business that was) and it was looking pretty good!

http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb149/freshthreat/banjokamaka012.jpg

Here it is now all strung up and playing quite nice! I am using a Harmony plastic fretboard until the ebony one is finished (with snazzy inlays)...after I get that happening I'll post some more photos!

http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb149/freshthreat/kamaka014.jpg

Too much fun!!!:cool:

Tudorp
06-07-2010, 01:48 PM
Well, that was a hell of allot worse than mine when I got it. I restored mine, but fortunatly, I was able to salvage the original lamb skin head, and my fingerboard was ok. But I did have allot of rust on the rings and bolts, had to polish and level the frets. That and new geared tuners, and mine was ready to play. Congrats, you breathed life back into that, when many would have not bothered..

RyanMFT
06-07-2010, 03:11 PM
Nice job, I am looking forward to seeing the finished fretboard. One question....why was working with the skin such nasty business? I've never worked with them so I have NO idea.....

I always enjoy bringing something old and broken back to life.....nice job on the banjolele!

Tudorp
06-07-2010, 03:38 PM
It is messy. When dealing with real hide, you have to soak it, to get it plyable, and to stretch it. Then put it around the ring, then up through the other ring all the way around it. Kinda like trying to thread a wet noodle, lol.. Or pushing a rope.. Awkward..

mangorockfish
06-07-2010, 04:09 PM
Not really into banjoleles, but you did a helluva job. Really looks great. Congrats on a job well done my brother.

freshthreat
06-08-2010, 08:15 AM
Nice job, I am looking forward to seeing the finished fretboard. One question....why was working with the skin such nasty business? I've never worked with them so I have NO idea.....

I always enjoy bringing something old and broken back to life.....nice job on the banjolele!

It's totally like trying to thread a wet noodle...and the goatskin smelled like the combination of lake and wet dog X100!!! My friend Joel was helping me get the flesh hoop on and he was gagging hard! Lol. It was fun though...we had a good laugh.

Tudorp
06-08-2010, 08:55 AM
Lol.. Yeah, I didn't even mention the smell.. hahha.. When working with it you are constantly reminded that you are tuggin & pullin on a dead wet animal, hahhah.. It is awkward as hell, but at the same time, satifying when you end up with a clean, stretched, and pretty head when it's all tightened, and dried.. When ya play your first song on it, ya kinda forget the horror of reskinin a bucket head, hahhah

freshthreat
06-08-2010, 12:37 PM
Lol.. Yeah, I didn't even mention the smell.. hahha.. When working with it you are constantly reminded that you are tuggin & pullin on a dead wet animal, hahhah.. It is awkward as hell, but at the same time, satifying when you end up with a clean, stretched, and pretty head when it's all tightened, and dried.. When ya play your first song on it, ya kinda forget the horror of reskinin a bucket head, hahhah

Yeah it was my first experiance with reskining...I see you have a Harmony banjolele...do you have any pictures up and if not can you post a couple?!

Tudorp
06-08-2010, 03:22 PM
Here ya go..

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?30895-Show-some-of-your-vintage-stuff...

freshthreat
06-08-2010, 07:41 PM
Here ya go..

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?30895-Show-some-of-your-vintage-stuff...

Thanks! That puppy is the awesome!!!

Tudorp
06-09-2010, 02:18 AM
Thanks.. It was a fun project, and really fun to play.. You'll enjoy yours too I am sure.. I've restored a couple other vintage banjos (one you can see hanging in the background). A Grestch, and a Supertone. Lots of fun I think..

ichadwick
06-09-2010, 02:24 AM
Nice restoration. I was recently given a U-King that needs that sort of work:
http://www.ianchadwick.com/ukuleles/images/ukulele/banjolele/u-king_01.jpg
(more pics at http://www.ianchadwick.com/ukuleles/vintage_ukes.htm)

Don't think I'm up to the effort, because I don't play a soprano, even one I've restored...

Tudorp
06-09-2010, 02:26 AM
Its really not that bad to restore them. It's cool that banjos are pretty modular and can come appart easily to restore them unlike a guitar or standard uke. If ya aint gonna do anyting with it, and want to unload it, I might be interested.

ichadwick
06-09-2010, 02:55 AM
I have two old banjo ukes that are just wall hangers for me. Was going to offer them on eBay of FMM. Take a look at the page and let me know by PM or email if you're interested.

Tudorp
06-09-2010, 03:30 AM
Uh.. what page..?

ops. My bad... I got ya know.. I will take a look..

freshthreat
06-09-2010, 08:25 AM
I have two old banjo ukes that are just wall hangers for me. Was going to offer them on eBay of FMM. Take a look at the page and let me know by PM or email if you're interested.

Cool banjo's! The computer at work (where I am right now) won't let me PM ya...so I'll do it when I get home...I'm with Tudorp these guys are super easy to restore...I have also restored a Kay Kraft tenor banjo from the 30's as well. It's really fun bringing these old dogs back to life!:D

ichadwick
06-10-2010, 03:19 AM
I'm not skilled in that area. I'm more a Skillsaw-type carpenter: fences and decks, that sort of thing. I'd love to have the time, skills and tools to do more detailled work, but I'll go with my strengths and leave that to others. I get enough enjoyment out of playing the uke.