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berylbite
02-12-2011, 01:32 PM
What do we know about Roy Smeck ukuleles? I just got a an old Chicago made soprano.
built by the harmony company.

mds725
02-12-2011, 04:46 PM
I'd buy a Roy Smeck ukulele in a heartbeat if it made me play like this.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcQYt7xvA8M

I realize that isn't very helpful, but one should not squander an opportunity to spread a little Roy Smeck into the world.

RyanMFT
02-12-2011, 06:23 PM
I've seen a bunch of Roy Smeck uke's on eBay but have never played one. Seems to me that they were most likely good little uke's. I hope they are solid wood. Can you post a picture of yours?

I had a thought about that video (where he is obviously playing a Martin!). Shows how much can be done on a soprano.....one doesn't need a tenor to really play all over the fretboard, which seems to be current conventional wisdom!

southcoastukes
02-12-2011, 06:32 PM
I had a thought about that video (where he is obviously playing a Martin!). Shows how much can be done on a soprano.....one doesn't need a tenor to really play all over the fretboard, which seems to be current conventional wisdom!

Roy was of that same opinion. I remember a remark of his from before there were Baritones. He said something to the effect that the Tenor Ukulele was an abomination, the Concert was all right for noodling around on ballads and such, but the only true ukulele was the Soprano.

As far as his signature instruments, I played one a good while back. I do remeber that it was solid wood, although I am thinking it might have been birch. Seems like it was nothing too special - but a simple decent quality Harmony, typical of the times.

berylbite
02-12-2011, 06:50 PM
It is solid wood, upon further research it would seem that it was quite the lucky find.
it doesn't have a plastic fretboard, it frets go straight into the neck. So I reckon it must be an early 1950's uke or older.

http://i1127.photobucket.com/albums/l634/berylbite/home035.jpg

http://i1127.photobucket.com/albums/l634/berylbite/home033.jpg

http://i1127.photobucket.com/albums/l634/berylbite/home032.jpg

I'm trying to decide what kind of strings to put on them, I want the juiciest sound I can get. low tension, rich, classic. Something like what Ohta san had going. Maybe even a drop G set up.

RyanMFT
02-12-2011, 06:56 PM
I had no idea Roy thought that soprano was the only "real" uke! I just think that so many of us come to the uke from having played guitar that our ear likes the tone a little better and our brain is trained to feel like the fretboard of a tenor "fits" better. To each his own, its all about fun to me, but I like sopranos a lot.

As for that Roy Smeck uke, that is great looking, thanks for the pictures. I bet it sounds good. Did you get a good deal on it?

berylbite
02-12-2011, 07:20 PM
the Mr. at the flea market wanted $20. I talked him down to $15, I feel kinda bad.

RyanMFT
02-12-2011, 07:33 PM
the Mr. at the flea market wanted $20. I talked him down to $15, I feel kinda bad.

I bet he was happy with the money, and now it is somewhere it will be enjoyed! I might consider trying Martin Flurocarbons on it.....oh, and make your bed! :)

southcoastukes
02-13-2011, 10:27 AM
Not Birch - Looks like Mahogany - very nice!

hmgberg
02-13-2011, 10:41 AM
I have one like this: frets in neck, not a plastic fingerboard. I must say, yours is in nicer shape. These are solid mahogany. 13" scale. They have a nice, kinda of "tubby" vintage sound. I have Worth Browns on mine, but have had a few other brands on it; Alohis sounded great, but they are kind of stiff on this ukulele. I have not tried Aquilas, but that's just b/c I don't really like them on mahogany sopranos.

Roy Smeck also endorsed/designed a few other ukuleles for Harmony including the Vita, which is a 14" scale, closer to a concert body ukulele, as well as the Roy Smeck Concert Uke, which is also slightly larger than a standard soprano. I know the Vita is spruce top. I believe the Concert is also. It interesting, in light of southcoastukes' quote that he endorsed quasi-concert instruments.