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View Full Version : Vintage Uke ID - Can anybody help me?



alattic
08-05-2011, 10:17 AM
I found this beautiful hand painted uke at an estate sale, and the only info the older lady had was that it belonged to her husband's father, and a note on it said 1928 guitar ukulele. Anybody have any ideas about potential maker, possible year, or value?

http://i86.photobucket.com/albums/k107/livingtoadstools/IMAG0935.jpg

http://i86.photobucket.com/albums/k107/livingtoadstools/IMAG0937.jpg

dhoenisch
08-05-2011, 10:19 AM
Looks like a May Bell. Is it heavy? That's a sure sign it may be one.

Dan

Ukuleleblues
08-05-2011, 10:41 AM
I don;t know what is is but I like the looks of it, How does it play and sound?

alattic
08-05-2011, 10:48 AM
If it were a May Bell, would that necessarily be inscribed in the peghead? The others I just looked at online were, this one's not.

It's quite out of tune, I mostly like the looks of it myself, and as a beginner I don't think I'm fit for it quite yet!

TCK
08-05-2011, 01:39 PM
Couple of things make me believe it is not a May Bell. First, the number of hooks. To my knowledge, all May Bell's had 12 (like a model 20) or 16 (like a model 24, 30, 23, ) hooks. This one has 14. Also, again to the best of my knowledge, the heel of all the May Bell's I have seen is flat, and this one is rounded. They usually have diamond inlay on the neck as well. My two fall into this set of rules, as do the many I have seen pictures of.
Not having the distinguishing mark of May-Bell stamped on it does not preclude it from being one, as they were sold under a lot of different names, and with a lot of no-name ones being out there as well.
Since the title does not include the word Banjo, Jnobianchi may not find this thread- I am going to send it to him and see what he thinks.

PhilUSAFRet
08-05-2011, 02:28 PM
Cute little banjo uke, they made a lot of these in the 30's and 40's. I have seen several similar ones, some without names.

dhoenisch
08-05-2011, 06:20 PM
I actually had one May Bell come into my shop where the silk screened name was dang near gone, and if I remember correctly, it did have the rounded heel. I think you are right about the inlays though. Hopefully someone is able to rightfully ID it. I'm curious.

Dan

zac987
08-05-2011, 07:20 PM
It is very far from a May-Bell. The headstock is very different, and most Slingerlands did not have such intricate inlay patterns.

http://www.musurgia.com/images/3463_ukulele/large/3463_01.jpg
Note the headstock shape and blonde color. Most Slingerland-made banjo ukes had these characteristics (although they did make them in black as well)

Unfortunately, I couldn't identify it any further than that. I do like it very much, however.

Jnobianchi
08-05-2011, 08:06 PM
Hells bells. Dave is right, not a MayBell at all. It's much, MUCH better. A 1926-30 Gibson UB3, which is unmistakable.

Condition seems quite good, but the problem here is that someone decorated this gem. Even in the 20s and early 30s, the UB3 was an expensive instrument. Now, one in Very Good condition, which this appears to be, is worth about $900-1,200. The problem is that someone PAINTED over the sunburst and the Gibson logo on the peghead. I know that on occasion the craftsmen at the Kalamazoo factory added personal touches to some of the ukes they produced, and this kind of painting wasn't uncommon, but from what I see here, that seems very much unlikely, because the paint jobs are pretty amateurish - please, no offense intended!!.

My gut is that the value has been damaged somewhat as a result of the painting on the headstock and resonator back. To bring this up to full playability the vellum would need to be replaced, but the old one should be saved as a neat piece of period art. I'd say, in this condition, it could moved on ebay for between $650 and 750. I don't see many Gibson players jumping in with higher bids, but you never know. There might be someone out there who can't live without the artwork.

If you're going to keep this one, get a new vellum and set it. It's my absolute favorite Gibson BU, and most who play Gibsons feel this and the UB4/5, though very different, are equally excellent. What a killer find. Like Ukester Brown finding that Martin 3 in the trash!

Jnobianchi
08-05-2011, 08:12 PM
Holy cow. I just can't stop looking at this one. That terrible artwork is starting to grow on me, especially with those great Gibson MOP diamonds that are on the old style 3 ukes and BUs.

Don't tell us what you paid, because that might make me more NUTS than I already am. :D

zac987
08-05-2011, 08:46 PM
Oh wow....I thought it looked like a Gibson, with the headstock and the inlays. What a ridiculous find!

TCK
08-06-2011, 08:11 AM
So obvious, and I so did not want to go there...I looked at every picture I could find EXCEPT the really high end ones.
Must know what it cost.
So I can never sleep again.
26549

Jnobianchi
08-07-2011, 01:42 PM
So obvious, and I so did not want to go there...I looked at every picture I could find EXCEPT the really high end ones.
Must know what it cost.
So I can never sleep again.
26549

:D And what's even more...well, I guess frustrating is the word, is that this isn't even the standard model Dave posted above, but the more highly valued sunburst finish. Yes, I guess I want to know what they were asking as well. :)

Jnobianchi
08-09-2011, 11:40 AM
Alattic -

I'm interested to see how this uke's story works out. What do you think you're going to do with it?