View Full Version : Got my Lyra baritone uke

07-15-2010, 01:43 AM
Picked up the Lyra baritone yesterday. My 'project' uke. It's been in the former owner's family since 1964 or 65, same owner, purchased in Texas, brought to Toronto. Played by her and her kids or many years since.

In fair to good condition given its age and use. Seems to be solid mahogany. It has some blemishes and some micro-cracks, a bit of wear on fretboard in one spot (just varnish worn off), but nothing serious. Cracks may just be surface. Crackling of finish on back. Needs some cleaning and a little TLC.

It's playable (with new strings) but needs a saddle replacement. Saddle is very thin, low, and strings rest on bridge behind it:
But it can't be too high because the string height is already a bit higher than I like:
So I need to widen and deepen the saddle slot first. That's about the only thing I see that really needs significant work.

Frets seem fine - very little pulling away and edges are smooth. Probably a little tapping to reset and then a cleaning is all they need. Fretboard is varnished (?) and is mahogany, too.

Has a wooden nut, too (might want to change that, too). Friction tuners (damn!). Stamp inside says "West Germany".

Will post more on my site once it's restored and being played. Any advice on restoring it will be appreciated.

07-15-2010, 05:03 AM
Nice uke man! before you replace the saddle, why don't you try redoing the angle on the back side of the bridge to relieve the string contact? A little block sanding ought to do it and that little area would be no problem to refinish if necessary. Just a thought...:cool:

07-16-2010, 01:35 AM
Nice uke man! before you replace the saddle, why don't you try redoing the angle on the back side of the bridge to relieve the string contact? A little block sanding ought to do it and that little area would be no problem to refinish if necessary. Just a thought...:cool:
Thought about that, but the saddle itself is very thin. I'm not sure of the material (might be bone, plastic or even wood) so I want to upgrade it. I really think it needs a wider saddle. Something in the back of my brain wants to relate mass with frequency - that needs to be researched, but I'm pretty sure a very thin saddle is not as effective a frequency/energy transmitter/filter as a thicker one (within certain parameters). Something to do with the amplitude of the wave, too.

Plus it's a chance for me to install one of the glass saddles I had made recently. See how they work. If I don't like the tone, i can replace it with a bone saddle I have.

Still looking for the history of Lyra. Not a lot of hard data online.

"Lyra" appears to have been a brand name of an importer or distributor - Bruno - and not an actual maker of stringed instruments. Guitars, ukes, and mandolins bearing the Lyra name have been with labels or stamps as "Made in USA," "Made in Japan," as well as this one from West Germany. Bruno itself is hard to trace and I have npot been able to find out when they started, or stopped (or if they are still in business), and if Lyra remained their trademark (and if not, when it changed).

This on Flea Market Music:
LYRA was a trademark of NY distributors C. Bruno and Sons. In the 'teens and twenties they used it on a line of Oscar Schmidt built instruments, mainly 12-strings and some pretty nice koa ukes. The Bruno name itself turns up on all sorts of stuff, from high end Koa to budget Regal-made instruments in the 30's to novelty ukes in the 40's/50's, to Japanese ( and apparently German) imports in the 60's/70's. A nice Koa rope bound uke in my collection has a label reading "Lyra, handmade Hawaiian Ukulele, Bruno, reg U.S. pat. office", and is definitely Schmidt built.

That relates to the early Lyra, of the 1920s and 30s. Most comments point to later modles as being a re-labeled, budget instrument, possibly made by either Regal or Harmony at some point, and imported by Bruno, but possibly also imported by other companies in other nations. Not sure if Bruno is still in business. Pretty much all musical instruments like these, outside the highest-end or custom luthier items, were made in Japan around that time. A few years later, the manufacturing moved to Korea, now it’s in China and Indonesia (and a rare few in Pakistan).

07-16-2010, 06:17 AM
That's a nice looking uke there. Have fun getting her set up and playing. I bet you'll get a lot of great looks at the next jam with it!


07-18-2010, 08:35 AM
No question that's the same one as mine. Complete with the crazy skinny saddle and strings resting on the bridge. Are those Worths you put on it? I mentioned in the other thread, I initially used Aquilas, but I didn't like the feel of the wound strings. I switched to some fluorocarbons and the sound really suffered. I'd be curious to hear what you think of the difference if you ever try Aquilas. I'll definitely be switching back, and I'll live with the lesser feel.

Aside from repairs, my only modifications were new tuners (still friction- Grover 85B) and strap buttons. I can't say enough good things about how this uke sounds. I hope yours gives you similar auditory pleasure.

07-18-2010, 09:37 AM
Are those Worths you put on it?
No, they are whatever it came with (and quite old, long before Worth was making uke strings, I believe). I have a set of low-D Martins (the only kind the local music store had in stock) to test. I'd prefer J71s (D'Addario) or Aquilas, myself.

07-18-2010, 10:05 AM
Thanks for posting these pics!!! Vintage frets!!!

07-19-2010, 02:15 AM
Vintage frets!!!

Chris Tarman
07-19-2010, 07:12 AM
That's a really cool uke, Ian. But I have to admit, I just got back from a 25 mile bicycle ride, and at first I read the thread title as "Got my LYCRA Baritone Uke". I didn't know quite what to think for a second there!