View Full Version : Vintage tenor ID?

03-07-2012, 05:16 PM
Hello UU! This is really my first post since joining (apart from introductions). I hope this is the right section for this post - mods please move if it is not - I wasn't too sure where to put it.

Anyways, I own a beautiful tenor ukulele that I bought off an old timer. He did not really know anything about it because his wife bought it at a garage sale for one of their grand children years earlier and he didn't end up playing it. It has what appears to be a solid spruce top, with solid koa sides and back. The back is nice an arched and has a beautiful golden colour when the light hits it. It has possibly a koa or mahogany neck, with a rosewood fretboard with two strips of greenish coloured wood inlayed into it. The bridge is rosewood and the saddle and nut appear to be bone. The bridge has a very unique shape as does the headstock. The headstock has a koa veneer with two other kinds of wood inlayed into it. The binding on it is some kind of medium brown coloured wood. Overall it is very striking with the koa, unique headstock and bridge, and the other little details. It came in a non-descript old looking hard case.

It sounds sweet and has good volume. The action is good.

Any ideas as to what I've got here? I might be able to post some sound clips or video clips so you can have a listen to it too.

Here are some pictures


03-07-2012, 05:22 PM
Some more

03-07-2012, 06:21 PM
Very nice! The headstock is great.

No idea who or where, but doesn't look that old.

I'm really not knowlegeable on koa, but looks to me like mahogany sides & back (and neck) - rosewood bridge and inlays - ebony fretboard.

03-07-2012, 07:30 PM
thanks for the info southcoastukes. I really don't know anything about it. Do you know what the main differences are(aesthetically) between koa and light coloured mahogany?

03-07-2012, 07:53 PM
Well, as I was saying, I'm not an expert on koa by any means, but as far as mahogany, that's a pretty typical natural color. On a lot of instruments it's stained a darker red.

Looks like a great instrument.

03-08-2012, 03:16 AM
I would guess that's a custom build, and from the styling I'd guess 60s–70s.

03-08-2012, 03:49 AM
looks like koa back and sides, spruce top to me, but what do I know? very nice . aesthetically it's a toss up. both are fine woods. I have seen stunning examples of both, some Cuban mahogany that will knock your socks off and curly koa that is so 3D it gives you flashbacks.

03-08-2012, 04:56 AM
No info for you - just wanted to say, enjoy - it looks beautiful!

03-08-2012, 05:35 AM
I assume no label on the inside? Any marking on the bracing? Sometimes there is a name burned into the center strapping that reinforced the back pieces. Without anything like that I have no idea. great find anyways.

03-08-2012, 05:37 AM
Thanks for the replies guys. Gadzukes! and strumsilly you guys are right on with what I was thinking about it. I brought it to a luthier to have some fretwork done to it and he thought that it was a custom build with koa sides and back. I just wanted to ask some more knowledgeable people if they knew what it was just in case.

Thanks Mandarb - she is a beaut!

03-08-2012, 07:59 AM
I'd take one of those little dental mirrors and have a look around inside the body. Like ukeeku said, some builders mark the bracing or the back of the soundboard.

03-08-2012, 12:50 PM
Good idea skitzic I will do that. Thats the one place I haven't been able to check.

03-08-2012, 02:04 PM
I have used a mirror just as Skitzic suggested many times. You can get one for a low price at most chain auto parts stores. I made a discovery using that mirror in an old instrument recently purchased. I already knew the instruments age from another label that could be seen (the name of the maker and the date it was finished was clearly visible). But glued underneath the sound board was another label that describes an event in history. It seems the day before the instrument was completed, the US navy won a battle with Spain in Santiago Harbor on July 3rd, 1898.........and the maker of this instrument proudly put this inside for someone to find.

03-08-2012, 02:35 PM
It's a sweety! Looks like some light Koa on sides and back to me. I'll bet you got one "heck" of a deal on this baby. Congratulations.

03-08-2012, 04:09 PM
PhilUSAFRet I did get a heck of deal on this. Almost criminal :cool: