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View Full Version : Bought a uke at a local auction



joshuar9476
02-01-2013, 10:51 AM
Last night at an auction, I bought a uke for $4. Though reddit I've found that it's probably a 20's Harmony, but I'd like more info on it. What is the value? Should I have it cleaned and restored? Is it actually what I think it is? Any info would be useful. I'd actually like to string it and learn to play (been playing guitar for years).

Here are some images I took of the uke. Sorry for the poor quality. BTW, there are no markings on it whatsoever.

itsme
02-01-2013, 11:25 AM
That thing looks pretty well thrashed. From what I recall, Harmony made mostly lower-end instruments. It would probably cost several hundred dollars (more than its value if it were in good condition) to restore it, and the structural damage around the soundhole could be a deal breaker.

Here's an earlier thread on Harmony.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?30571-harmony-ukulele

RyanMFT
02-01-2013, 11:26 AM
I think you are on the right track thinking it is mainland made. These sometimes have a "Supertone" label. You can clean it yourself. It might look and sound good if fixed up. Bummer that it is missing wood around the sound hole.

I'd like to find one for $4!

BlueLatitude
02-01-2013, 11:30 AM
I would too! If it was mine I'd at least clean it and find out what could be done about the soundhole. There doesn't seem to be much else wrong with it from the photos.

joshuar9476
02-01-2013, 11:56 AM
I would too! If it was mine I'd at least clean it and find out what could be done about the soundhole. There doesn't seem to be much else wrong with it from the photos.

other than a small chip in the inlay on the bottom and the broken tuner, it's very solid. the folks on reddit said the damage on the sound hole will just give it character if i decide to just use it to play.

OldePhart
02-01-2013, 12:00 PM
Even if it is a supertone or harmony it looks to be from the 20's and is probably solid wood. I would definitely clean it up - if the neck is straight it could turn out to be a super player with a little TLC though it will probably never be particularly valuable.

I wouldn't even worry about the missing wood around the sound hole. If you can clean it up and the bridge is sound and neck is straight it might be the best playing $4 uke around!

John

RyanMFT
02-01-2013, 02:04 PM
Even if it is a supertone or harmony it looks to be from the 20's and is probably solid wood. I would definitely clean it up - if the neck is straight it could turn out to be a super player with a little TLC though it will probably never be particularly valuable.

I wouldn't even worry about the missing wood around the sound hole. If you can clean it up and the bridge is sound and neck is straight it might be the best playing $4 uke around!

John

Exactly! Clean that baby up, deal with the tuner, and enjoy. If you enjoy it, then maybe see if you can replace the missing wood, or maybe just leave it as part of the history of the instrument.

Tailgate
02-01-2013, 02:41 PM
Last night at an auction, I bought a uke for $4. Though reddit I've found that it's probably a 20's Harmony, but I'd like more info on it. What is the value? Should I have it cleaned and restored? Is it actually what I think it is? Any info would be useful. I'd actually like to string it and learn to play (been playing guitar for years).

Here are some images I took of the uke. Sorry for the poor quality. BTW, there are no markings on it whatsoever.

things aren't always what they seem to be... ask Willie Nelson :)

lambchop
02-02-2013, 04:50 PM
That thing looks pretty well thrashed. From what I recall, Harmony made mostly lower-end instruments. It would probably cost several hundred dollars (more than its value if it were in good condition) to restore it, and the structural damage around the soundhole could be a deal breaker.

Here's an earlier thread on Harmony.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?30571-harmony-ukulele

But many were solid wood and while, yes, they don't have much value, if you want to play them the wood, if not all messed up, can impart a very nice sound. It looks kind of nice, actually. I'd take it to a local repair and at least let them look at it, or send some pictures to the repay people at Elderly.com and see what they think.

UncleMoon
02-03-2013, 06:03 AM
Exactly! Clean that baby up, deal with the tuner, and enjoy. If you enjoy it, then maybe see if you can replace the missing wood, or maybe just leave it as part of the history of the instrument.

At my house, we would call that missing wood character. :D

hoosierhiver
02-03-2013, 06:09 AM
Judging by the shape of the head stock and the fretboard, I'm not sure it's a Harmony.

scothut
02-03-2013, 06:53 AM
That should be an interesting project for you :D

Ukuleleblues
02-03-2013, 12:47 PM
Judging from the wear it looks like it was played a lot, good in indication it might be a nice sounding uke. Clean it up get some tapered wooden tuners and refit them and you might have something unique. My wife has an old Bluebird uke from the 30s-40s that is all worn from play. She loves it.

joshuar9476
02-04-2013, 01:23 PM
i took the uke to a vintage instrument repair shop in Indy. he's looking it over but said he's going to leave the sound hole as is. i'll update as things progress.

Mim
02-05-2013, 12:16 AM
What a fun project and a great find for $4! Would love to see the after pictures when you are done!

mm stan
02-05-2013, 12:21 AM
I am sure there are luthiers here on UU that can tackle your new aquisition and bring her back to her former glory....Good Luck

joshuar9476
02-06-2013, 06:12 AM
BTW here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gts8lFtEyk0) is a youtube video of someone playing the same uke that i bought. the more i find, the more i believe this is a supertone uke from the teens.

Nicko
02-06-2013, 06:21 AM
Exactly! Clean that baby up, deal with the tuner, and enjoy. If you enjoy it, then maybe see if you can replace the missing wood, or maybe just leave it as part of the history of the instrument.

What's cooler than an instrument that looks like it's been through a war but plays sweet as syrup?! That's a beautiful thing.

Read about wabi-sabi at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi-sabi.

mattydee
02-06-2013, 07:58 AM
BTW here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gts8lFtEyk0) is a youtube video of someone playing the same uke that i bought. the more i find, the more i believe this is a supertone uke from the teens.

UkeVal is a member here. He may be able to help you out for more positive ID, if you PM him.

Ukeval
02-12-2013, 09:57 PM
I was told by Ukulele hall of fame that this is a Supertone (Harmony) from the 20. I read that they made the instrument from 1917 (with wooden pegs) the later (20 and so) put on friction metal pegs.
Mine is in curly koa, was repared (at least 3 top cracks repaired and the rosette too) Nice sound as you can hear on the video.
I now have some gut strings on it for an "historical" sound. Less powerful but nice warm tone.