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View Full Version : ID this uke please - Is it a Nunes???



JamieFromOntario
11-12-2011, 05:19 AM
Howdy everyone!

I think I have something that is both exciting (what it is) and unfortunate (the condition it's in) to share.
I have seen this uke around my parents' house all my life. It is my understanding that it was bought by my grandmother (born in 1909) in the '30s, though I have no proof but my father's recollections; my grandmother passed away several years ago.

This uke has never been playable in my lifetime. I believe too that it has been refinished with some sort of varnish.
There are numerous cracks in the body, the neck is starting to separate from the body and the rope binding in one corner has been replaced (or so it seems). I have tried to capture all of this in the photos.

It looks to me like it is an old Nunes model - one of the fancier ones - since it has the rope binding.

My guess that it is beyond hope of restoration or that restoration would cost more than the uke is worth.


Take a look and see what you think.

JamieFromOntario
11-12-2011, 05:23 AM
More pictures

Gmoney
11-12-2011, 05:25 AM
Can't tell you for sure if it is a Nunes, but it is certainly VERY repairable. A good luthier would probably love to fix her up for you & I'd bet that it wouldn't be as pricey as you might think. For ID, send description, photos, etc to Chuck "Frets" Fayne of Uke Yak - he can sometimes give you a very good guess as to its lineage.

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

Since it belonged to your Grandma, it would be a great bit of legacy to fix up & play it & pass it on another generation. I'd bet she got a lot of enjoyment out of it & it just NEEDS to be played!

RyanMFT
11-12-2011, 06:36 AM
Looks like a great old ukulele. Unfortunately, I don't think it is a Nunes. The bridge looks later and Manuel Nunes usually didn't do a raised fretboard. I'd like to see a photo of the very bottom of the uke (where the sides join over the tail block). Is there an insert there of a different color wood? Also, the headstock shape isn't typical for Manuel or Leonardo.

Does it look like the heel was once part of the back of the uke? That would help to know.

This uke looks like a well made twenties uke to me. Gmoney is right, it is restorable if you are willing to spend a bit on it. If it were mine, and were my grandmother's, I would have it restored and play it like it is supposed to be played!!

mm stan
11-12-2011, 06:47 AM
Aloha JFO,
It is not a Nunes either one of them...but closer of the headstock design of Augusto Dias...hope it helps.. a copy?? whon knows...

RyanMFT
11-12-2011, 07:59 AM
Doesn't "feel" that early to me, and looks more mainland made. Frets are brass, I don't actually know what the first three used.

I would be shocked if it were a Dias, as only 10 - 15 are known to exist and this one looks more mainland made to me. Still, a very cool uke and it would be great to bring it back to playing condition.

If there is no label and no other identifying marks, it will likely be impossible to identify for sure. I have one like that.

Does look like someone varnished it at some point. I bet it would be a good player if you had it fixed!

Doc_J
11-12-2011, 08:15 AM
Check with Chuck Fayne on UkeYak at fmm.

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

I understand Chuck is very good at identifying ukes

BlackBearUkes
11-12-2011, 08:21 AM
Definitely not a Nunes or Diaz. It looks American made, more than likely made in Chicago during the uke boom of the 20's. The cost of repair to the original look would be in the $400-$500 range, not worth it for this uke. The sound would be small and a bit thin also. An excellent wall hanger in my opinion.

Jim T.
11-12-2011, 11:39 AM
Definitely not a Nunes or Diaz. It looks American made, more than likely made in Chicago during the uke boom of the 20's. The cost of repair to the original look would be in the $400-$500 range, not worth it for this uke. The sound would be small and a bit thin also. An excellent wall hanger in my opinion.

I agree. Likely a mainland product, given the peghead design and overall shape. Ryan's point about the back not extending over the heel is another clue to its likely mainland origin, as is the width of the fingerboard and the position dots.

Jake Wildwood
11-13-2011, 02:25 AM
This is a Chicago-made uke, almost positively by Harmony, around c.1915-20 or thereabouts. It's from their earlier line of ukes, is made from koa, and you can see these in various Sears catalogs. The American-style heel (not Spanish heel) is a dead giveaway of mainland manufacture. At any rate, that headstock shape and body style is very much attributed to old Harmony ukes.

Here's a link to another one of my repairs (I've worked on a half dozen of this type) that's similar:
http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2010/03/c1920-mele-flamed-koa-soprano-ukulele.html