View Full Version : Beat-Up Favilla Bari: Priceless treasure or money sink?

07-27-2010, 07:16 PM
I work as a part-time antique dealer, and also am an amateur uker. Recently, one of my co-dealers took on a job selling off the estate of an eccentric older man who owned a rather large collection of beaten-to-death instruments. Among them is a Favilla baritone ukulele, possibly dating to the mid-1920s. I've played one before, and I thing that Favilla may have made some of the most beautiful sounding mahogany ukes ever built.
The catch: The uke is a real piece of work. The bridge if completely off, it's missing 3 tuning pegs (and the remaining holes don't look great, wider than I'd like to see). The sound hole looks a bit rough, needs a thorough sanding to clean it up. It has a 4" crack on the back at the southernmost end, in-line with the neck. Also, there might be very minor separation between the face and sides around where the bridge connects with the neck. Otherwise, the uke is scratched and the headstock is chipped but nothing else is wrong that would effect its playing tone.
Normally, I'd buy it in a heartbeat, but the original owner's daughter researched Favilla ukes on eBay and wants this one sold at no less than $120. Although I feel that this is more than its worth, I am sure it could fetch that price at auction online.
My question to UU: Do I buy? I am not a skilled woodworker, so keep in mind that I'd have to pay out of pocket for any restoration. And even then, are all of these damages a kiss of death to good sound?
I'd like to post pictures of the uke (and the condition) but since I don't actually own it you'll have to use your imagination. Thanks in advance to anyone who can instruct me on this buy.

mm stan
07-27-2010, 07:49 PM
Aloha Harper,
I'm afraid to say, restoration work may well exceed the current market value of the uke. Just assume the
repair cost is a loss already. Unless you're Howard Huges, and you're dead set on it..Pass...I'm sure if
you tried to explained it to the seller, it would be a waste of time.... But the biggest issue is that you
don't know how it's going to sound after it's restored.....Good Luck!! MM Stan...

07-27-2010, 08:11 PM
That 4 inch crack really sounds like it might be the end for this particular uke. mm stan got it exactly right, the cost of restoration would skyrocket the overall cost way past what I'd consider reasonable. I love Favillas as well, but you could easily find a more pristine baritone uke on eBay or elsewhere for less than $200 (a friend of mine just bought a 1920s model for $170, ready to play from the minute he bought it).

07-28-2010, 04:12 AM
Well, Favilla bari's have a reputation for good sound, but I think baritone ukes weren't made until the 1950's. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's my impression.

elderly.com recently sold one of these in VG-EX conditon with an excellent big sound for $425, to give you a guide of their value.

The crack should be relatively easy to cleat and stabilize - it really depends on whether there's been wood creep as to how well it would look cosmetically.

I don;t understnad about where the bridge meets the neck - the bridge is on the belly of the uke and doesn;t touch the neck, but I would be VERY wary of any uke with neck joint problems, Resetting a neck is a major problem and hard to fix properly.

The bridge replacement probably isn;t that hard if you have the original bridge, but making a new saddle is the real hard part if that's missing.

For the tuner holes - remove the tuners, use a drill press or reamer to make the holes a uniform diameter and plug them (hopefully with a face grain mahogany plug rather than a birdch dowel for aesthetic reasons), and then redrill for a new set of tuenrs. Replacement tuners lessens the value of the uke in my opinion.

The sound hole is beat ip and needs sanding - changing the size and shape of the soundhole will change the sound and projection of the uke!!! Don't go there!

I'd pass on this one. Neck reset + changing the original shape of the soundhole + the other repairs = not worth fixing.

07-28-2010, 04:38 AM
For that price...as hard as it may be, I would walk away.

Best of luck whatever you decide.

07-28-2010, 05:01 AM
I agree with everyone here. If it were given to me, I would take it and have it repaired depending on estimate, but like already said, at any purchase price the cost of restoration would cost at least what it is worth if not more so the purchase price would be just a loss. Also, even if you got it free, and paid it's value in restoration, you still would be taking a risk that it may, or may not sound as it should when ready to play. If it had a personal attachment or history to you, then that is different, but as far as investment value, I don't see any. I concur on this one.. Walk away..