PDA

View Full Version : Tell me about this Uke...



Story
03-18-2011, 06:51 PM
I thrifted this little metal bodied Banjolele or Ukejo or whatever they're called. It has a copper body, flaking copper paint, and the sweetest little 1920's illustration of a lady.

I'm not sure if I should (and can!) make it playable or if I should just let it be a little showpiece of art because of the illustration.

Any ideas? I've been googling and googling and I find lots of similar things for sale but no good information, particularly because of the drawing - is that a common thing?

PS: If you look closely, the drawing has the earliest incarnation of a "your dad" joke on it that I've ever seen :)

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5177/5538770026_1850f2aaf8.jpg

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5173/5538775446_2402bd6027_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/royal_wedding/5538775446/)

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5296/5538766696_8f0c216cae.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/royal_wedding/5538766696/)

It's a copper bodied maxitone, FYI.

RyanMFT
03-18-2011, 07:56 PM
What a GREAT find! Welcome to Ukulele Underground!

Looks like a very playable banjolele to me. A little hard to tell but it just looks like it needs a bridge and new strings. Any good ukulele strings should work for you. Here is one place you can get a bridge.
http://www.ukuleleworld.com/2-leg-1-2-bridge-grover-30.html

If you decide to make it playable again, we can tell you where to place the bridge if you need help with that.

It is very cool, can I ask what you paid for it?

mm stan
03-19-2011, 01:26 AM
Aloha Story,
Welcome to the UU and our forums...love the maxitone and the sketch on top...Wow wee thanks for sharing..MM Stan

Story
03-19-2011, 03:27 AM
Thank you all for the warm welcome!

I'm not a Uke player at all - I actually play the bluegrass mandolin but I saw her and couldn't resist adding another little stringed instrument to my fleet - she's so pretty and shiny and that little lady is so lovely! So you think I can play it keeping the original picture? I tapped it like I would to tune a drum and it's way off key. I'm heading down to my mandolin shop and I was going to take it down to have the repair guy look at her for me to see if he could make it playable. It seems solid enough, I'm just worried about trashing the skin which is my favorite part though I am curious to see what something like this sounds like. She'll definitely be a "light playing" instrument if she does get fixed up to play.

I paid around 200 for her and a 1940's xylophone together, so we'll split the difference and call it 100?

Chap
03-19-2011, 03:58 AM
That's a late 1920s - early 1930's Bruno Maxitone, made by Richter. There are indeed playable, and nice little instruments (I have one of the non-copper ones). The only issue tends to be the narrowness of the neck. I don't know if it was by design, or the wood they used just shrinking over the years, but the strings on these end up very close together.

You don't have to worry about playing it bothering the artwork, I believe the bridge would end up right under her backside. Fix it up!

mailman
03-19-2011, 05:20 AM
Definitely playable! Do keep in mind, though, that this would be strung with nylon strings, not metal, and that it would be played with the fingers rather than a pick. That should help ease your mind about damaging the artwork....

Walter in Austin
03-19-2011, 06:23 AM
I purchased a similar banjo-uke a couple of years ago with an "artwork" head, & quickly had it replaced at a repair shop that handles banjos. Remember that you can (& probably should) have the skin head replaced if you want to play it, & get a banjo head that won't be affected by humidity--on humid days around here, at least, a skin-head banjo is pretty unplayable. Then you can frame the old head & hang it up, if you like.

RyanMFT
03-19-2011, 06:42 AM
I purchased a similar banjo-uke a couple of years ago with an "artwork" head, & quickly had it replaced at a repair shop that handles banjos. Remember that you can (& probably should) have the skin head replaced if you want to play it, & get a banjo head that won't be affected by humidity--on humid days around here, at least, a skin-head banjo is pretty unplayable. Then you can frame the old head & hang it up, if you like.

Why is a skin head unplayable? They are sold and used today?

TCK
03-19-2011, 09:08 AM
Looks absolutely playable to me with some finessing...gotta know a banjo player what with the Mandolin and all right?
As for the head- whoever drew that probably did it to make the uke unique, and probably played it with it on there- I so go for it. The skin head on my MayBell is 70 years old (has the original manufacturers stamp on it) and she gets played daily. Little more involved with tuning when I pick it up (I often have to adjust the head tension depending on the weather) but after a week it becomes second nature. Looks to me like a set of strings and a bridge and you are a uke player- fantastic find there.
The addition of the "so's your old man" to this particular one (I have seen a lot of them drawn on) makes this one priceless- well done for sure!