View Full Version : c.1930 Harmony-made "Rotary" Mahogany Uke

Jake Wildwood
09-08-2011, 09:08 PM
This is a cool, mother-of-toilet-seat little soprano I just finished. Work included a fret dress, neck set, bridge glue, brace glues, seam glues, and hairline crack repair... oh, and setup. And in the end...? A nice little uke perfectly suited to strumming and quick chords up and down the neck.





More photos/writeup/etc can be had over at the blog (click here for link)! (http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2011/09/c1930-harmony-made-rotary-ukulele.html)

09-09-2011, 04:02 AM
Very nice work. I'm always happy to see someone who will save an old Harmony instrument. I have always had a soft spot for Harmony instruments, and have rescued a few that were headed to the trash bin or headed to spending the rest of it's life as a wall hanger. I also have a customized/rebuilt H942 guitar, a mandolin and a Regal banjo that I received as a box of parts. Those three are keeper instruments for me. Again, nice work, and I appreciate you saving this one.


09-09-2011, 04:22 AM
I agree, Harmony is where it's at. Find a good one and you'll have a great little uke for a long time!

09-09-2011, 05:24 AM
Nice work! Is it for sale? If so- how much?

Jake Wildwood
09-09-2011, 03:59 PM
Thanks guys! I'm a fan as well. Huge fan of Harmony ukes c.1920-40ish.

PM on its way, Ernie.

09-09-2011, 11:44 PM
haha, 'mother of toilet seat!' I'm nicking that ;) I have to admit that I bought my first banjo uke based largely on the fact that it was covered all over in this shiny, pretty stuff. It was also walnut and nicely made / sounding, but yeah, the shininess got me :) Good job fixing this up! Have got a few Harmony sopranos lying round waiting for a little TLC, I might scour your blog for tips Jake.

09-10-2011, 03:52 AM
Hi Jake- thanks for the reply. The reason I'm especially interested in this uke is because I bought it once before, myself! Back in May 2010 I won this ukulele on ebay (I love the deluxe Harmony appointments... that flamey mahogany... the MOTS fretboard & headstock veneer, etc). My intention was to get it fixed up, but it was beyond anything I could do myself, and my local luthier has done some very disappointing work in the recent past. My OTHER local luthier is absolutely brilliant, but is way to expensive to use for anything but a very high-end instrument.
Finally this year in a massive, life-altering purge, I decided to get rid of all my project ukes. Rather than drag out the process through ebay (and risk never purging), I decided to sell them at our big yard sale, and give some unsuspecting ukulele hunter the thrill that I have sought (in vain) for years every time I drive by a yard sale... hoping to see a vintage ukulele out on the lawn with a next-to-nothing price tag. I displayed 5 ukuleles (including the Rotary), all needing some degree of attention, with prices from $10-$15 each.To my surprise, the day wore on, and people walked by the ukes, paying them no heed... after a while I marked them all down to $5 each... STILL no interest! I couldn't believe it. Not wanting to restock my closet with these project ukuleles, and wanting to bring nothing back home from the sale, I eventually sold them to the only person who inquired about them at the end of the day- all 5 ukes for $15 (he tried to talk me down to $14, but that's where I drew the line). 8^)
The buyer barely spoke any English, and I didn't know what he had planned for the ukes, but about a day later, I was surprised to see 4 of the 5 pop up on ebay. The buyer had evidently sold them to someone else... they were well described, and the seller seemed to have a pretty good idea what they had. The coolest uke in the lot by far was the Rotary, and I now see that it went to you! Honestly, I can't think of a happier outcome for this ukulele, which really deserved to be restored. I've checked out your site numerous times, and I'm just tickled pink to learn that you ended up buying and this ukulele and nursing it back to health. Wonderful work you're doing, bringing these instruments back to life. I think your price is extremely fair, and this ukulele should make someone very happy. I'd love to strum it and hear it in it's new incarnation. Congratulations on the restoration, and thanks for posting!

Chris Tarman
09-10-2011, 05:08 AM
That's a cool uke, Jake. And an AWESOME story, Ernie! Personally, I think you ought to buy it back, but that's just me...
I've always loved MOTS fingerboards. I've never played one, but they look really cool on the right uke. My guess is that they might not hold up as well as wood over time, but they sure look sharp!
Actually, I bought my first soprano from Jake on eBay back in January of '09. It's a little birch "Criterion". It's a nice little thing, but kind of plinky and quiet compared to my other sopranos. Jake did a nice job restoring it. I ought to play it more often...

09-10-2011, 11:46 AM
Hey Chris- I would totally buy it if I were in a buying position right now. As it happens, I'm not, but I'm happy to see it rise like a phoenix from the yard sale ashes.
I have seen MOTS fretboards peel up on some old ukes, so I think you're right about them not being as stable over time as wood... they sure look cool though!

Jake Wildwood
09-11-2011, 02:54 AM
This is the coolest "hey that's my uke" story I've ever heard. Thanks for letting me know, Ernie!