View Full Version : New antique banjo uke day

02-24-2013, 05:57 PM
Well, I guess it was NUD over a week ago for me.

Ever since I joined the ukulele meetup in January and we played from our Tin Pan Ally song book, I have been wanting a banjo uke. Some of those songs just screamed for one. I can't afford a new one, and all the decent ones on eBay end up going for more than I can currently afford.

I saw this little uke on eBay with a starting bid of $39.95, and $14 shipping, though it needed some work. It was missing one peg, one was broke, and one didn't belong. The head looked like it was ready to tear as well, plus a few nicks and scratches here and there. I had a few extra bucks, so I put in my max bid of $55, assuming I wasn't going to win it as I've seen them in much worse condition going for a lot more.

Well, to my amazement, I received an e-mail that I won the auction at the starting bid. I sent payment, and four days later, I got it.

This banjo needed a little bit more work than I thought, but not bad. All the above mentioned work was needed, along with a refret and new nut.

So, I started by removing the rim to replace the head and a chunk of wood fell off. apparently a screw from the tension hoop was holding it in. A little hide glue and the repair is virtually unnoticeable. Installed the new head, performed the refret, added ebony nut, added a bridge, a new set of violin tuners (3/4 sized that I shaped and cut down to fit) and a new set of Martin Fluorocarbon strings, this little banjo uke is playing all over again. Tin Pan Alley sounds more period correct with this little instrument.

And my research turns up that this is almost definitely a LaPacific banjo from the 1920's. I've found others that are 100% identical to this one, all pointing to the same brand and era.

well, that's enough of my story on this, so here she is:




02-25-2013, 01:53 AM
Score! And at such a price. Congratulations. I really like it when neglected instruments find their way to someone who can appreciate them again. It looks great. Are you happy with the sound?

What bridge did you use? I'm scouting around for one.

02-25-2013, 02:47 AM
I am pretty happy with the sound. It isn't as "plunky" as the Lanikai soprano I tried (the Only banjo uke I've been able to try anywhere), but still sounds like a banjo. Probably more like a riverboat banjo than, say a bluegrass banjo. Kind of more of an old timey sound. I used a calf skin head and since you can't get the skin super tight on this type of banjo like you can on a traditional style banjo, that might be why. Also, the metal resonator adds something to the sound. I originally thought my fat gut would cover up that little sound hole and mute the banjo, so I originally added spacers all around the resonator. Well, it sounded muffled that way, so I put the resonator directly on the wood rim as it already had been mounted, and it really opened up the sound, and wasn't muffled. I have no idea why, but then, it works, so I guess it doesn't matter why :)

For the bridge, I just used a two-footed 1/2" Grover tenor bridge, but it was thick, so I sanded away some of the thickness. I decided on a two footed bridge since it looks more period correct than the 3-footed bridge. I was originally going to go with an all maple one, but at the last minute decided on the ebony topped bridge. It's a pretty loud little banjo, so I probably would have been fine had I gotten the all maple one, but then, it's probably a little brighter with the ebony cap.


02-25-2013, 06:31 AM
Congrats! I like these little California style banjo ukes. Video please?