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View Full Version : Vintage Uke...Trash or Treasure?



Hippie Dribble
04-05-2011, 04:16 PM
Hi everyone!

I'm writing to ask for some help in identifying the relative value (or worthlessness ) of a vintage ukulele I bought off ebay last year.

It was advertised by the seller as being a mint condition vintage Mauna Loa, supposedly made from mango and dating back to the 1940's. The wood is hard for me to really identify as both the body and neck look to have been refinished (and very well too). Everything else about it looks great to the eye, though there is a bit of the cream binding beginning to separate at the waist. It is incredibly light. It plays well.

Anyone know anything about the Mauna Loa brand of ukuleles? Do I have a piece of trash or treasure??? And, more generally, what in your thinking determines whether a uke is something to treasure or, dare I say it, something to trash?

I'll include some pics so you can see the uke I'm talking about. Any help here is much appreciated. Truth is, I've been thinking of selling it on but I don't want to do myself or anyone else a bum deal by setting a price too high or low.

Cheers and thanks much! eugene :)

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Hippie Dribble
04-05-2011, 04:19 PM
and here's a few more pictures, including one of the stamped headstock detail...

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so....is it trash or treasure? :confused:

PhilUSAFRet
04-05-2011, 04:37 PM
Found one site that said it was made by Lyon and Healy...that alone is a sign it's not "Trash." Not sure when they stopped making them though, perhaps another maker started using the Mauna Loa name?

Gmoney
04-05-2011, 04:40 PM
Looks pretty sweet to me! Ask Chuck at Uke Yak about it (include photos):

http://www.fleamarketmusic.com/uke-yak/default.asp

Hippie Dribble
04-05-2011, 04:42 PM
Found one site that said it was made by Lyon and Healy...that alone is a sign it's not "Trash."

He he...thanks Phil. I don't really consider any uke trash!!!!! Just titled the thread with that artificial distinction to hopefully pique people's interest! Thanks for the info mate.

Hippie Dribble
04-05-2011, 04:45 PM
Looks pretty sweet to me! Ask Chuck at Uke Yak about it (include photos):

http://www.fleamarketmusic.com/uke-yak/default.asp

Great, thanks Glenn. I'd forgotten about that on FMM.

Bluenose
04-05-2011, 04:55 PM
There sure seems to be a bit of similarity to the bridge on the Lyon and Healey Camp Uke.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_0K70sLCgQbE/Sd-RwX76fmI/AAAAAAAABjc/y2KXK288HF0/s1600/monk02.jpg

hmgberg
04-05-2011, 06:11 PM
Mauna Loa was Lyon & Healey's budget line of instruments. But, that doesn't mean it's trash. Probably $150-$200.

Chris Tarman
04-05-2011, 06:12 PM
I was thinking the bridge looked similar to modern-day Oscar Schmidts, which would make sense if there's an L&H connection. I realize that the modern O.S.s don't have much but the name to connect them to the original L&H and Washburn brands, but it would make sense that they would retain SOME of the design elements.

Hippie Dribble
04-05-2011, 06:22 PM
thanks Bluenose, hmgberg and Chris for the info. Never realised it was an offshoot of Lyon & Healy. Didn't they also put out a line of plastic ukuleles at some point? I seem to remember seeing one online somewhere?

To me, what is unique about this uke is the burgundy plastic ring that lines the soundhole. Certainly something I've not seen before.

UncleElvis
04-05-2011, 06:46 PM
Tell ya what... if you DO decide to trash it, shoot it on over to me. I think it's lovely! *grin*

Teek
04-05-2011, 08:45 PM
It's a beaut, looks like much more of an upgraded version than the usual models I've seen. I have one of the plastic Mauna Loa ukes, I think they are just using the name of the volcano, and not connected, but that's a guess. If you put it on eBay with a sound sample it should do really well. If you do let me know. I just bought another soprano, I keep meaning to rehome most of them but somehow I am a sucker for the vintage ukes and the fun ones.

Now if I could just remember who was it that was worried about hearing "vintage Kamaka pineapple for sale"? ;)

Pippin
04-05-2011, 09:24 PM
"vintage Kamaka pineapple for sale"? ;)

Elderly has two of those right now.

lancemanion
04-05-2011, 10:09 PM
Eugene Ukulele - Hopefully I can be of some help. I bought a very old Mauna Loa several years ago and did a lot of research trying to discover the history of the brand. From what I can tell, Lyon and Healy started making ukuleles in late teens after the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco (1915). They were labeled Lyon and Healy and made in Chicago. They made some really nice instruments, MGM had a matching 5K Shrine set of Lyon and Healy ukes for sale for $25,000. In the late teens Hawaiian made ukes sold for a premium over mainland ukes (some things never change). To cash in on this Lyon and Healy started the Mauna Loa brand, complete with Hawaiian Volcano on the sound hole label. The thing that I love the most about this story is that the really early Mauna Loa ukes where called Mouna Loa's. Mauna Loa is of course the large volcano on the big island and when Lyon and Healy tried to fool people into thinking that these ukulele's where made in Hawaii they misspelled the name of the volcano, they spelled it phonetically. I find this very funny. The ukes that they did sell under the Mouna Loa and then later Mauna Loa brand ranged from very nice Koa ukes with detailed inlay and roping (definitely not a budget line!) to cheaper Nyssa wood ukes (the same wood they used in their famous Lyon and Healy campfire ukes). The model I have is an exact copy of the Lyon and Healy model 1915 but labelled as a Mouna Loa. Yours appears to be a later version. The pressed in headstock logo is done in the same style as the camp ukes they made in the twenties, which would be my best guess for your uke. In the early 50's B.W. Molded Plastics in Pasadena California made some plastic ukes and sold them under the Mauna Loa name, but these have no connection at all to the Lyon and Healy Mauna Loa's from the teens, twenties and thirties. Although your Mauna Loa is one of the later, less expensive Mauna Loa's, it is great shape for a ukulele pushing one hundred years old. I think it is a treasure and I would hold on to it. Hope this sheds some light on your cool little uke.

Hippie Dribble
04-05-2011, 10:43 PM
Eugene Ukulele - Hopefully I can be of some help. I bought a very old Mauna Loa several years ago and did a lot of research trying to discover the history of the brand. From what I can tell, Lyon and Healy started making ukuleles in late teens after the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco (1915). They were labeled Lyon and Healy and made in Chicago. They made some really nice instruments, MGM had a matching 5K Shrine set of Lyon and Healy ukes for sale for $25,000. In the late teens Hawaiian made ukes sold for a premium over mainland ukes (some things never change). To cash in on this Lyon and Healy started the Mauna Loa brand, complete with Hawaiian Volcano on the sound hole label. The thing that I love the most about this story is that the really early Mauna Loa ukes where called Mouna Loa's. Mauna Loa is of course the large volcano on the big island and when Lyon and Healy tried to fool people into thinking that these ukulele's where made in Hawaii they misspelled the name of the volcano, they spelled it phonetically. I find this very funny. The ukes that they did sell under the Mouna Loa and then later Mauna Loa brand ranged from very nice Koa ukes with detailed inlay and roping (definitely not a budget line!) to cheaper Nyssa wood ukes (the same wood they used in their famous Lyon and Healy campfire ukes). The model I have is an exact copy of the Lyon and Healy model 1915 but labelled as a Mouna Loa. Yours appears to be a later version. The pressed in headstock logo is done in the same style as the camp ukes they made in the twenties, which would be my best guess for your uke. In the early 50's B.W. Molded Plastics in Pasadena California made some plastic ukes and sold them under the Mauna Loa name, but these have no connection at all to the Lyon and Healy Mauna Loa's from the teens, twenties and thirties. Although your Mauna Loa is one of the later, less expensive Mauna Loa's, it is great shape for a ukulele pushing one hundred years old. I think it is a treasure and I would hold on to it. Hope this sheds some light on your cool little uke.

Lance,

thankyou so very much mate. I appreciate all this superb history and your generosity of spirit in sharing it. Perhaps I didn't try hard enough but information I could glean on the name was scant to say the least. I will hang on to it then. I've been playing it a little today , restrung it, and it's just so pretty. It sure is in fantastic condition. Again Lance, thanks. :)

mm stan
04-05-2011, 11:50 PM
Aloha Eugene,
http://ukuleleguide.com/gallery.html

Hippie Dribble
04-06-2011, 12:28 AM
Aloha Eugene,
http://ukuleleguide.com/gallery.html

Blessings Stan. Thanks mate for that link. It's great! And the guy who wrote it seems pretty quirky himself. :)

Chris Tarman
04-06-2011, 02:00 AM
Eugene Ukulele - Hopefully I can be of some help. I bought a very old Mauna Loa several years ago and did a lot of research trying to discover the history of the brand. From what I can tell, Lyon and Healy started making ukuleles in late teens after the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco (1915). They were labeled Lyon and Healy and made in Chicago. They made some really nice instruments, MGM had a matching 5K Shrine set of Lyon and Healy ukes for sale for $25,000. In the late teens Hawaiian made ukes sold for a premium over mainland ukes (some things never change). To cash in on this Lyon and Healy started the Mauna Loa brand, complete with Hawaiian Volcano on the sound hole label. The thing that I love the most about this story is that the really early Mauna Loa ukes where called Mouna Loa's. Mauna Loa is of course the large volcano on the big island and when Lyon and Healy tried to fool people into thinking that these ukulele's where made in Hawaii they misspelled the name of the volcano, they spelled it phonetically. I find this very funny. The ukes that they did sell under the Mouna Loa and then later Mauna Loa brand ranged from very nice Koa ukes with detailed inlay and roping (definitely not a budget line!) to cheaper Nyssa wood ukes (the same wood they used in their famous Lyon and Healy campfire ukes). The model I have is an exact copy of the Lyon and Healy model 1915 but labelled as a Mouna Loa. Yours appears to be a later version. The pressed in headstock logo is done in the same style as the camp ukes they made in the twenties, which would be my best guess for your uke. In the early 50's B.W. Molded Plastics in Pasadena California made some plastic ukes and sold them under the Mauna Loa name, but these have no connection at all to the Lyon and Healy Mauna Loa's from the teens, twenties and thirties. Although your Mauna Loa is one of the later, less expensive Mauna Loa's, it is great shape for a ukulele pushing one hundred years old. I think it is a treasure and I would hold on to it. Hope this sheds some light on your cool little uke.

I have one of the fancy koa Mouna Loa ukes with the rope inlay. I had wondered which large mainland manufacturer made it. Thanks!

lancemanion
04-07-2011, 07:40 AM
When I bought mine I didn't know anything about it. Just that is looked very old and probably made in Hawaii. Kind of funny that Lyon and Healy tricked me almost a hundred years after they perpetrated this ruse.