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View Full Version : New "old" uke. Vintage silvertone soprano from a flea market.



oldetymey
03-02-2013, 08:13 AM
Hey guys, havent posted in a while, kind of went back to my lurking ways lately. Guess I havent had much to say, but found a little treasure today, so I figured Id share. Every month at the local mall here they do a flea market weekend, and folks bring in all kinds of neat junk to dig through. I happened to be there wandering around today, and what do I spy on top of a stack of old books? A uke. So I check it out, and it turns out to be an old silvertone in the original box. Im figuring it will insanely overpriced like everything else there, but the sticker says 25 bucks! I offered them 20, and took it home for $22. I found in the box 2 old songbooks that are really cool! Its in incredible shape. no cracks, no wear, no marks barely at all. The only downer was that the bridge had been reglued at some point, and someone used foaming gorilla glue and did a messy job of it.
I tuned it up, and it plays great even though the action is a touch high. it has a surprisingly nice warm plinky tone. Its going to be a great take to work and leave in my locker uke. I did have a question about it though.

The scale length seems slightly shorter than my mainland, Im concerned someone glued the bridge back on in the wrong spot.
But I see no tell tale marks on the uke that would indicate that, is there more than one soprano length? It seems to have fine intonation....

heres a few pics.....it appears to be solid wood (mahogany maybe?).
49633496324963449635

lakesideglenn
03-02-2013, 08:47 AM
Nice find! As long as the intonation is good, the bridge is in the correct position.

oldetymey
03-02-2013, 09:02 AM
yeah, on further review the A string is a lil off. You can hear it in the C chord.......wonder if the high action is to blame for that?
Im resisting the urge to pop the bridge back off and sand some of it off. You can see how high it is. It would give me the chance to clean up that crappy glue job too.
scared it wouldnt pop off clean though. especially with gorilla glue, that stuff is no joke....

UKEonomics
03-02-2013, 09:13 AM
Very cool find! Hope you get it back to it's former glory. Good luck with the bridge.

oldetymey
03-02-2013, 09:36 AM
anyone want to take a shot dating it for me? Ive found nothing about this model. back of headstock is stamped "319.85409" "made in USA". Not sure when production of silvertones went overseas, but I think this means its one of the older ones.......Also box is stamped "57 854". I found a similar one online with the same box stamped "57 853" That one was from 1957, but it had a wooden fingerboard, and real frets.....this one is molded plastic fingerboard Logically though Id assume the "57" stands for 1957, and mine is simply a cheaper model. Any silvertone experts out there?

FairyGodmartyr
03-02-2013, 10:38 AM
What are the copyright dates in the books? That might help give you a starting point for dating the uke. At the very least, it won't be older than the books, most likely.

teruterubouzu
03-02-2013, 01:37 PM
That's a cool find! I love that it came with the original box. My boyfriend has a vintage silvertone guitar. Didn't even know they also made ukes!

wayfarer75
03-02-2013, 02:14 PM
That's so cool that you found it--instead of someone who'd just use it as decoration or something.

oldetymey
03-02-2013, 03:56 PM
Yeah cant beat it for the price. Its a nice sounding little thing
Even with the probably 60 year old strings on it. Ordered some aquilas from
Elderly today so Ill slap a set on when they get here. Now just need to figure out how to remove that bridge.
I Have a set of geared tuners Im tempted to put on as well but its so original I hate to mess it up
The friction tuners are pretty sorry though.

oldetymey
03-02-2013, 03:57 PM
That's so cool that you found it--instead of someone who'd just use it as decoration or something.

Where from in ohio wayfarer? Im up north just outside toledo

lakesideglenn
03-02-2013, 05:48 PM
Harmony made most of the instruments sold by Sears & Roebuck under the Silvertone brand and that screwed on fingerboard is a dead giveaway that it's a Harmony.

I don't think you can get that bridge off without doing a lot of damage to the top. I'm not sure how handy you are, but you could cut the bridge down without removing it, cut a slot, and add a bone or tusq saddle. That's a lot of work though for a not very valuable uke. Probably better off just keeping as is and stay in the lower chord positions.

Good luck and keep us posted if you decide to attack the bridge.

Cheers!

KamakOzzie
03-02-2013, 06:14 PM
The scale length seems slightly shorter than my mainland, Im concerned someone glued the bridge back on in the wrong spot.
But I see no tell tale marks on the uke that would indicate that, is there more than one soprano length? It seems to have fine intonation....



I have a few old ukes with a shorter scale length. Right at 13". One is a Supertone that is also Sears before they changed the name to Silvertone. Nice find!

Bill