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View Full Version : Looking at an M. Nunes uke…what do you think?



KevinV
05-26-2014, 05:44 PM
I'm looking at purchasing an M. Nunes uke to have it restored. It's being sold by a semi-local thrift shop and the shop person has given me what information he has, but it's not much. Basically cut and paste from online resources about Nunes. His photos aren't very good either, I've asked for some of the neck/back/fretboard, and he said he'll send them, but it may not be until Wednesday when the shop reopens.

I have to drive within an hour and a half of the place on Wednesday and was planning to go look at the uke then if I had a better idea of what shape it's in and what it needs to be restored.

From what I've found online, it's one of his more ornate models as it has the rope binding around both the sound hole and the edge of the body. It was distributed by Lyon & Healy according to the label inside, and it's the only Nunes I've been able to find a photo of with the extended fretboard.

It's got a good size crack in the soundboard. I don't know at this point if there are others on the back/sides. The tuners look to have been changed but whether it was reamed for this I don't know, there's also an eye hook screwed into the uke to run some cord through for a strap. I can't tell if the bridge has been reglued, replaced, or is just dirty.

The images aren't the best, but they're all I've got until I can get the uke in hand. And as far as I'm driving it's going to either be a buy or pass situation. I don't want to mull over it and have to repeat a long round trip. I'm primarily looking to buy it to restore an early uke to its intended playing condition. I'm not a collector but would love to have this one for the history behind it.

My question to you folks is…do you think the top crack looks easily repaired by a competent luthier, and is it worth the $270 plus repair costs to get it back to playing condition? I want it to be a functional piece of history. Something I can play and enjoy.

Your opinions are greatly appreciated as I'm heading up there in a couple days.

67124 67125 67126 67127 67128

mm stan
05-26-2014, 07:31 PM
Wow An Amazing find and a amazing price....It is Very rare and A deluxe model in pretty good condition.... cannot tell if the neck is straight but a
vintage ukulele in this condition is worth at least 4=5 times of the price at the very least....Like said it is in pretty good condition, and a refinish may hurt the value...
Get it looked at for sure by a qualified professional vintage person... I think cleaned up and polished this uke will look amazing as it is...good luck

hawaii 50
05-27-2014, 07:14 AM
Hey Sherlockkayaker...good eyes! :)

I know that Lyon and Healy are collectible ukes too...but wonder if the seller just guessing what kind of uke it is by the looks of it...
but if it fooled MM Stan too wow!!

need a clearer picture of the label...but the price seems right

stevepetergal
05-27-2014, 07:35 AM
I don't know if Lyon and Healy ever built ukuleles. They surely had some commissioned by other builders (perhaps Harmony, Washburn, Leonardo Nunes?...). I have seen "Manuel Nunes" ukuleles made by Leo Nunes Ukulele O Hawaii in California, surely made after Manuel's death.

If this one was made by Leo's Daddy, it's a very rare find. I don't remember seeing an M. Nunes ukulele with that fretboard (a Taropatch, maybe).

Regardless, it's a very nice looking instrument. I'd be very interested if I were you, KevinV. The repairs can surely be made by an experienced luthier. Whether it's a Manuel Nunes or a "Manuel Nunes" made by________ (fill in the blank), it would be a beautiful instrument once restored. Worth the money to fix it up? If it was built by the master himself, certainly. If not, only you can decide if it's worth it. I have a very old ukulele (maybe collectible) I'm having restored that will never be worth the money I paid for it plus the restoration costs. Not even close. But, I'll love it just the same. But that's me.

hawaii 50
05-27-2014, 07:41 AM
Mike(MGM) has a Lyon and Healy at HMS... I thought he said Lyon and Healy later on became Washburn...but I could be wrong
and you could be right...on the back of the headstock it says Washburn....so maybe Washburn did build it...

David Newton
05-27-2014, 07:59 AM
Those 2 top cracks are nothing to a good repairman. The fretboard looks wrong to me, but the photos just don't show enough.

If you aren't a collector and want a vintage uke to play, be warned. The vintage Hawaiian ukes can be all funky, frets out of place, bridge misplaced, neck wacky to the body, etc. Sometimes even after spending lots to restore, they are still wall-hangers. That is where most of the early ukes reside.

If it were me, I'd be running over there right now. $270 is nothing for a real Nunes, even if it is just to hang on the wall. Put on your poker face, point out all the "defects" and offer less.

Ukejenny
05-27-2014, 09:13 AM
I think it is a treasure. Can't wait to see how this one ends up and turns out.

mm stan
05-27-2014, 10:03 AM
Yes Len, I too think it might be comissioned by lyon and healy and a rare uke if it is.....paperwork labels especially old like this is very hard to fake...
Very much plausable to be authentic with the facts shown , given too it is a high end deluxe that can be sold for alot more back then...

KevinV
05-27-2014, 12:10 PM
I just got back from getting the uke. It had more issues than I could tell from the photos provided.

The top has 4 cracks with the bridge lifting up. It looks like the lifting bridge caused 3 of the cracks. There is a small crack starting on the back where one of the seams on the lower bout meets. One of the tuners may be original, the other 3 aren't. The bridge looks like it may have been either reglued or replaced at some point. There may be a little twist to the neck.

I hope those are issues that can be resolved by a good luthier.

Now on to the good stuff.

It's definitely original and is an M. Nunes. It has the headstock logo which says "M. Nunes, Inventor, 1879, Hawaii" and has the crest above the word Hawaii. Inside, on the back, just below the neck block is what looks like a branding (from heat) that has either a hut or crown with a sliver of a sun or moon under it, a pair of crossed "somethings" and the words TABU, Made in Hawaii. There is a paper label that states "Made expressly for Lyon & Healy, Chicago, ILL, by M. Nunes & Sons, Inventor of the Ukulele and Taro Patch Fiddles in Honolulu in 1879, Manufacturers of Stringed Instruments, Guaranteed, Kapiolani Bldg., Alakea St., Honolulu, T.H.

All bits of wood rope binding around the sound hole and edge are intact. The flame in this koa is just crazy…not sure if I can capture it with the camera. The nut looks original, and before I slacked the strings to save the top any more trauma, all notes played cleanly without buzz all the way up the neck on all strings. The sides have no cracks. The first five frets have some seriously cool wear from being a loved uke by somebody at some time.

I love this thing!

When I saw the cracks in the top and the lifting bridge, I really didn't know, and still really don't, whether it can be repaired to playable again. I was bummed that I didn't see the other cracks in the photos provided. I didn't want to go home from a 5 hour round trip empty handed, but I wasn't confident in the uke. I decided to offer what I was willing to pay if this ends up being nothing more than an unrepairable wall hanger. I offered $100 and he accepted. He also threw in a 50's Harmony uke for another $20.

So, for now I'll clean and get some photos to post shortly. Then I'll start my hunt for a luthier that will take on the job. This is pretty cool.

Here's a few quick pics to whet your appetite…

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coolkayaker1
05-27-2014, 12:21 PM
If that is a genuine M. Nunes, and it may well be, it is worth quite a bit. See here, KevinV!

http://ukulelefriend.com/ukes/1900s-manuel-nunes-ukulele-4/

The repairs you mention are nothing for a qualified luthier~! This may be the score of the century.:)

I'm still puzzled by the Kamaka-style extended fretboard (I see none online, even with an image search) and the mechanical tuners for such an old uke. Hmmm.

Wow, that was a long drive, but well worthwhile, Kevin.

saltytri
05-27-2014, 12:28 PM
http://www.easyukulele.com/manuel-nunes.html[/url]



I'm anxiously awaiting the verdict from RyanMFT or another expert! This could be a real find, especially at that price.

In the meantime, let's keep in mind that there's lots of information out there that is suspect at best. For example, I got a kick out of something that the quoted site says: "He [Manuel Nunes] came to Oahu in 1879 as a laborer and also worked as a manufacturer of machetes. He had skills as a guitar maker, however, and would eventually make Nunes Ukuleles." It seems plain from the context that whoever wrote this thinks that Nunes made large knives, as "machete" is a Spanish word for such. The author must have read in some other source that Nunes made machetes, which was a Portuguese name for the antecedent of the ukulele as well as the Spanish word for a large knife, and misinterpreted the statement in the source that he relied upon.

More to the point, here is what Jim Beloff has to say:

http://books.google.com/books?id=6oeHJJ72LCIC&pg=PA88&lpg=PA88&dq=nunes+lyon+and+healy&source=bl&ots=GMVhZ9MrQe&sig=XJ9z2uAhLODJAJtXHif6JMW5hTs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=eP-EU9DdO8rIoASw2oCwDg&ved=0CEAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=nunes%20lyon%20and%20healy&f=false

What he doesn't say is whether Lyon & Healy offered Hawaii-made M. Nunes ukes, Hawaii-made L. Nunes ukes, California-made L. Nunes ukes, or a combination of the above. On page 103 of The 'Ukulele by Tranquada and King, there is a facsimile of a Lyon & Healy ad said to be from 1915 featuring "Genuine Hawaiian" instruments made by "Leandro [should be "Leonardo," of course] Nunes of M. Nunes & Sons. By 1915, Leonardo was apparently on his own in Los Angeles, Id. at 168. Manuel apparently continued to make instruments in Honolulu until about 1917. Id. at 167.

Skinny Money McGee
05-27-2014, 12:32 PM
I wonder if there are fret slots underneath that fretboard? Almost looks like someone at sometime glued on a taller wider bridge and added a fretboard. And from the Kluson tuners, may have done it in the 40's? May have been an attempt to make it look and play more like a modern uke at that time.

Choose your restoration luthier carefully

KevinV
05-27-2014, 12:34 PM
I've removed the strings and tuners. I was happy to see that they didn't ream the holes to fit the 3 replacement geared tuners that were installed at some point.

mm stan
05-27-2014, 12:39 PM
I just got back from getting the uke. It had more issues than I could tell from the photos provided.

The top has 4 cracks with the bridge lifting up. It looks like the lifting bridge caused 3 of the cracks. There is a small crack starting on the back where one of the seams on the lower bout meets. One of the tuners may be original, the other 3 aren't. The bridge looks like it may have been either reglued or replaced at some point. There may be a little twist to the neck.

I hope those are issues that can be resolved by a good luthier.

Now on to the good stuff.

It's definitely original and is an M. Nunes. It has the headstock logo which says "M. Nunes, Inventor, 1879, Hawaii" and has the crest above the word Hawaii. Inside, on the back, just below the neck block is what looks like a branding (from heat) that has either a hut or crown with a sliver of a sun or moon under it, a pair of crossed "somethings" and the words TABU, Made in Hawaii. There is a paper label that states "Made expressly for Lyon & Healy, Chicago, ILL, by M. Nunes & Sons, Inventor of the Ukulele and Taro Patch Fiddles in Honolulu in 1879, Manufacturers of Stringed Instruments, Guaranteed, Kapiolani Bldg., Alakea St., Honolulu, T.H.

All bits of wood rope binding around the sound hole and edge are intact. The flame in this koa is just crazy…not sure if I can capture it with the camera. The nut looks original, and before I slacked the strings to save the top any more trauma, all notes played cleanly without buzz all the way up the neck on all strings. The sides have no cracks. The first five frets have some seriously cool wear from being a loved uke by somebody at some time.

I love this thing!

When I saw the cracks in the top and the lifting bridge, I really didn't know, and still really don't, whether it can be repaired to playable again. I was bummed that I didn't see the other cracks in the photos provided. I didn't want to go home from a 5 hour round trip empty handed, but I wasn't confident in the uke. I decided to offer what I was willing to pay if this ends up being nothing more than an unrepairable wall hanger. I offered $100 and he accepted. He also threw in a 50's Harmony uke for another $20.

So, for now I'll clean and get some photos to post shortly. Then I'll start my hunt for a luthier that will take on the job. This is pretty cool.

Here's a few quick pics to whet your appetite…

67151 67152 67153
Congrats Kevin,
Nunes worked in the downtown area of honolulu and lived up liliha street close by as many other luthiers...I lived there maybe 50 years later..
I know they used to share ideas and building techinques...one person which lived nearby was Bill Tapia....probally the oldest living uke player
playing professionally who passed a few years ago at 102 or 103....
Let me say this is an amazing score even with all the cracks as it has historic value....I would not refinish as it may hurt the value...have the
cracks repaired and cleated if necessary. a good repairman on the islands and one of the best is Ka Lin..he does vintage uke repairs and also
tweeks them up if he can to sound better...He used to work for Andrew at HMS but is on his own now...good luck man Happy Strummings..
100 bucks...I'd give you 125 bucks man anyday...LOL

hawaii 50
05-27-2014, 12:49 PM
Hey Kev

If you don't mind sending it to Hawaii...try getting ahold of Ki-lin Reese....
he worked on some nice 100 year old Martins...and is one of the best on the Islands

get ahold of him at his website
krstrings.com

sorry I see Stan already told you about Ki-lin

KevinV
05-27-2014, 12:50 PM
I wonder if there are fret slots underneath that fretboard? Almost looks like someone at sometime glued on a taller wider bridge and added a fretboard. And from the Kluson tuners, may have done it in the 40's? May have been an attempt to make it look and play more like a modern uke at that time.

Choose your restoration luthier carefully

I think you're right! I don't see any fret slots from the sides, but it appears there are 2 fretboards on this thing. And from the nut end it looks as though maybe the first board that is touching the neck isn't the original fretboard because it extends over what looks like a little space left from a slot for a nut. But why remove the original fretboard, and put on a spacer and board rather than just a thicker single board? Strange. And there are non original looking 5/7/10th fret markers on the side.

There's also some white paint specks on one side of the uke where someone must have been painting nearby and didn't protect the uke. Bummer.

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mm stan
05-27-2014, 12:59 PM
I think you're right! I don't see any fret slots from the sides, but it appears there are 2 fretboards on this thing. And from the nut end it looks as though maybe the first board that is touching the neck isn't the original fretboard because it extends over what looks like a little space left from a slot for a nut. But why remove the original fretboard, and put on a spacer and board rather than just a thicker single board? Strange. And there are non original looking 5/7/10th fret markers on the side.

There's also some white paint specks on one side of the uke where someone must have been painting nearby and didn't protect the uke. Bummer.

67154 67155 67156 67157
Back then some ukers did not use a fretboard and the frets were on the neck and were flush with the body..but I do not see fret grooves on the neck under the fretboard
so it is hard to tell if it was made this way or a fretboard was added on....the white speck can be removed easy with solvent such as a thinner or acetone...test first though

KevinV
05-27-2014, 01:18 PM
I've got the dust knocked off and here are some more pictures, warts and all. The flame looks good in the pics, but is even more pronounced in person. Very nice wood.

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stevepetergal
05-27-2014, 01:33 PM
Yeah, that's one of the best finds (and deals) I've ever seen. If it was me, I'd have it completely restored. Ignore the cost. (This may have been made after Manuel's departure, but is still surely made by his company, a fake wouldn't give Lyon & Healy any credit.)
I'd bet the fretboard, although strange to me, is indeed original to the instrument. Four bits of evidence: old bar frets, the way the nut fits with the head and fretboard, the serious wear on the fretboard, and if you look at the side shot of the neck joint, the top of the neck is not perfectly flush with the top. If the fretboard was a later addition, the joint would not look like that.

Skinny Money McGee
05-27-2014, 01:52 PM
Middle spacer on the fretboard does look like an after thought. Maybe they shaved the neck down to get rid of the original fret slot marks, added the middle spacer to fill in flush to the soundboard, then added the current fretboard. Would probably be easier than carving a thick one piece. Seems to me those tuners are a clue to when the work was done. That bridge looks suspect too. Looks wider and different.

Maybe it's L&H prototype, and you have the only one!!

KevinV
05-27-2014, 02:03 PM
It's not the only M. Nunes Lyon & Healy. Here's another soprano on Ebay right now. It's not the deluxe model, but it's all original in great shape.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-VINTAGE-UKE-MANUEL-NUNES-SOPRANO-UKULELE-Ukulelefriend-com-/231242481165?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35d7203e0d

hawaii 50
05-27-2014, 02:51 PM
It's not the only M. Nunes Lyon & Healy. Here's another soprano on Ebay right now. It's not the deluxe model, but it's all original in great shape.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-VINTAGE-UKE-MANUEL-NUNES-SOPRANO-UKULELE-Ukulelefriend-com-/231242481165?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35d7203e0d




that is why Stan wanted to buy it from you....haha :)

David Newton
05-27-2014, 02:59 PM
Everything looks old, but it sure doesn't look original.

KevinV
05-27-2014, 03:23 PM
Thanks for the head's up on Kilin, he has an impressive resume. I just got off the phone with him and will be sending the uke out for him to work his magic. We agreed that taking it back to its original state would be best, so the secondary fretboard will be coming off.

I'm very excited about this. I wish I could drop it off in person. I use to live in Kailua in the 80's and that's where he's located. Someday I'll get back out there and visit his shop.

So the uke is getting packed up and shipped out tomorrow. Life is good.
:cool:

coolkayaker1
05-27-2014, 03:38 PM
http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-JONAH-KUMALAE-1915-GOLD-AWARD-HAWAII-UKELELE-NO-CRACKS-NO-DAMAGE-/161318861078?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item258f5a7916

Hey, Stan and Len...here's a beaut vintage uke for you gentlemen. No cracks, all original. Kumalae, the king. (This'll likely be sold by the time you guys click it).

Post photos on this thread when it comes back to you, Kevin. cheers!

stevepetergal
05-27-2014, 03:53 PM
After a second look, I'm positive the fretboard is original. If that layer underneath it was a fretboard, the fret slots would be clearly visible. There are none. And if someone had planed it down to get it that way, it would be far below the level of the soundboard. It's not. That is surely an M. Nunes with its original fretboard. The layer beneath may just be what was used to make an old ukulele design work with a new generation fretboard. It's odd but I think had to be glued there by the Nunes Company.

coolkayaker1
05-27-2014, 03:56 PM
Yes, but are you sure?

stevepetergal
05-27-2014, 04:01 PM
I'm positive.

hawaii 50
05-27-2014, 04:22 PM
http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-JONAH-KUMALAE-1915-GOLD-AWARD-HAWAII-UKELELE-NO-CRACKS-NO-DAMAGE-/161318861078?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item258f5a7916

Hey, Stan and Len...here's a beaut vintage uke for you gentlemen. No cracks, all original. Kumalae, the king. (This'll likely be sold by the time you guys click it).

Post photos on this thread when it comes back to you, Kevin. cheers!


Thanks Cool...

but I am a modern day kind of uke person....hoping my ukes will be the collectable ones in the future...haha

David Newton
05-27-2014, 05:22 PM
I'm positive.

You may be right of course, but I've never seen an M. Nunes uke with a fretboard like that, in fact I cannot find an M. Nunes uke without a flush fret board.
Someone else has a fretboard with a curvy end, but not Nunes.
https://www.fleamarketmusic.com/images/yak/419PICT0938.JPG

KevinV
05-27-2014, 05:29 PM
I'm pretty sure that when Kilin has it in hand he'll be able to ascertain whether the fretboard is a mod or original. If not, I'm sure he has references and folks he can consult to verify it. Over the phone he seemed to believe it was not the original fretboard from what he saw in the pictures.

coolkayaker1
05-27-2014, 05:33 PM
David, just curious, what brand of ukulele is the one in your photo? Thanks.

mm stan
05-27-2014, 05:43 PM
http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-JONAH-KUMALAE-1915-GOLD-AWARD-HAWAII-UKELELE-NO-CRACKS-NO-DAMAGE-/161318861078?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item258f5a7916

Hey, Stan and Len...here's a beaut vintage uke for you gentlemen. No cracks, all original. Kumalae, the king. (This'll likely be sold by the time you guys click it).

Post photos on this thread when it comes back to you, Kevin. cheers!
Aloha Steve...
Kumalaes are mostly tourist ukes...:) back then they did make some deluxe models they sell for more in the UK but not in hawaii....

mm stan
05-27-2014, 05:47 PM
Yeah, that's one of the best finds (and deals) I've ever seen. If it was me, I'd have it completely restored. Ignore the cost. (This may have been made after Manuel's departure, but is still surely made by his company, a fake wouldn't give Lyon & Healy any credit.)
I'd bet the fretboard, although strange to me, is indeed original to the instrument. Four bits of evidence: old bar frets, the way the nut fits with the head and fretboard, the serious wear on the fretboard, and if you look at the side shot of the neck joint, the top of the neck is not perfectly flush with the top. If the fretboard was a later addition, the joint would not look like that.
Nope steve it has the Tabu trademark made in hawaii this uke and probally by him

mm stan
05-27-2014, 05:49 PM
It's not the only M. Nunes Lyon & Healy. Here's another soprano on Ebay right now. It's not the deluxe model, but it's all original in great shape.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-VINTAGE-UKE-MANUEL-NUNES-SOPRANO-UKULELE-Ukulelefriend-com-/231242481165?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35d7203e0d
Yeah Kevin, it is Shawn... need I say more....:)

mm stan
05-27-2014, 05:53 PM
After a second look, I'm positive the fretboard is original. If that layer underneath it was a fretboard, the fret slots would be clearly visible. There are none. And if someone had planed it down to get it that way, it would be far below the level of the soundboard. It's not. That is surely an M. Nunes with its original fretboard. The layer beneath may just be what was used to make an old ukulele design work with a new generation fretboard. It's odd but I think had to be glued there by the Nunes Company.
Yes Steve if they took off the frets there would be the slots on the neck, this one does not seem to have any...and since it would be on the neck, they would have to change the whole neck..
it could be a very early redesign, but I dont think so....this is original to me...

iamesperambient
05-27-2014, 11:50 PM
I'm looking at purchasing an M. Nunes uke to have it restored. It's being sold by a semi-local thrift shop and the shop person has given me what information he has, but it's not much. Basically cut and paste from online resources about Nunes. His photos aren't very good either, I've asked for some of the neck/back/fretboard, and he said he'll send them, but it may not be until Wednesday when the shop reopens.

I have to drive within an hour and a half of the place on Wednesday and was planning to go look at the uke then if I had a better idea of what shape it's in and what it needs to be restored.

From what I've found online, it's one of his more ornate models as it has the rope binding around both the sound hole and the edge of the body. It was distributed by Lyon & Healy according to the label inside, and it's the only Nunes I've been able to find a photo of with the extended fretboard.

It's got a good size crack in the soundboard. I don't know at this point if there are others on the back/sides. The tuners look to have been changed but whether it was reamed for this I don't know, there's also an eye hook screwed into the uke to run some cord through for a strap. I can't tell if the bridge has been reglued, replaced, or is just dirty.

The images aren't the best, but they're all I've got until I can get the uke in hand. And as far as I'm driving it's going to either be a buy or pass situation. I don't want to mull over it and have to repeat a long round trip. I'm primarily looking to buy it to restore an early uke to its intended playing condition. I'm not a collector but would love to have this one for the history behind it.

My question to you folks is…do you think the top crack looks easily repaired by a competent luthier, and is it worth the $270 plus repair costs to get it back to playing condition? I want it to be a functional piece of history. Something I can play and enjoy.

Your opinions are greatly appreciated as I'm heading up there in a couple days.

67124 67125 67126 67127 67128

If you got the funds to buy and pay to have it restored I would do it.
Its a piece of history right there, I would love to get one myself If I had the funds.

Skinny Money McGee
05-28-2014, 02:36 AM
Kevin, it's great you decided to have it restored back to original, whatever that may be. Show Kilin this thread and see if he would update with pictures and comments. Very fascinating thread.

(My bet is, the original fretboard was shaved to get rid of the fret slots, middle shim added to level the surface for the new fretboard.)

river_driver
05-28-2014, 03:49 AM
I don't know if Lyon and Healy ever built ukuleles. They surely had some commissioned by other builders (perhaps Harmony, Washburn, Leonardo Nunes?...).


Mike(MGM) has a Lyon and Healy at HMS... I thought he said Lyon and Healy later on became Washburn...but I could be wrong
and you could be right...on the back of the headstock it says Washburn....so maybe Washburn did build it...

Lyon & Healy was founded after the Civil War was a retailer, then they got into wholesale and then started manufacturing instruments in their own factory in the 1880's... though they did contract work out to various other manufacturers as well. Washburn was L&H's premium stringed instrument brand, which they trademarked in 1887 though they had been using it since 1883 (Washburn, incidentally, was George Lyon's middle name).

L&H sold their manufacturing division to Stewart in the mid 1920's, and their wholesale division to the Tonk Bros. shortly thereafter, in order to focus on retail. They went bust during the great depression. Most of the corporate records are lost. The modern Washburn company doesn't really have anything to do with the old one, they just acquired the rights to use the name in the 1970's and claim 1883 as the date of their founding (even though 1973 is more like it).

L&H/Washburn definitely did build ukes, but I don't think until the 1920's. The raised fretboard on this one probably was a modification to the typical Nunes requested by L&H retail division. When you think about it, given L&H's history as a retailer, this isn't all that different, conceptually, from the Martins that were built for the Ditson stores in the east (and in fact, Ditson gave L&H their start).

David Newton
05-28-2014, 04:20 AM
David, just curious, what brand of ukulele is the one in your photo? Thanks.

From the headstock shape I think it is Regal.

UkerDanno
05-28-2014, 05:19 AM
what a Treasure! Congrat's on the find and good luck with the repairs. I'm certainly not an expert, but I would have it repaired as best as possible without screwing with the condition and configuration it's in. Even if the fretboard was added on, it has been on for a long time and was put on by an experienced luthier. They're only original once.

StevieBGoode
05-28-2014, 06:16 AM
L&H...went bust during the great depression.

Not true. During the 1960's and '70's I spent a lot of time browsing and occasionally buying at the L&H Wabash Avenue store in Chicago. It was a musical department store housed in a large multi-story building (8 floors, IIRC). Retail operations were discontinued after it was acquired by Steinway, then a CBS subsidiary, in the late '70's. However, harp manufacturing continues to this day in Chicago. Here's a link to their website:
http://www.lyonhealy.com

and a Wikipedia page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyon_%26_Healy

-- Steve

coolkayaker1
05-28-2014, 06:25 AM
Thanks, David and Stan.

River diver, while your history is appreciated, I still have my doubts about that fretboard being original and ordered by Lyon and Healy from Manny. Why? There are no other pictures of it on any internet search whatsoever on a Manny uke. L and H sold a boatload of ukes, and to not find one like it on the entire net if L and H ordered even one batch this way, not on Google or Bing, well...

Also, Nunes was known for the primitive fretboard style. It's one of their signatures. To think they redid the process for L and H is unlikely, I think.

Also, David has found a Regal with the extract same fretboard. We all know that Regal and L and H were like this (twists fingers together) so perhaps an employee constructed this uke, sort of like the employee builds at Martin, and used a stock extended and Kamaka-ish fretboard.

Finally, the side dots. Man, those are amateurish as heck...painted on, and poorly at that. L and H or Manny wouldn't do that, I don't think.

So, I'm guessing the fretboard is not Manny N original. Plus, don't forget, it had tuners when Kevin bought it that truly do not seen original. So, I have to side with the first to suggest this, brother Skinny. I'm going to further guess--and this is just fun-- that even a skilled refurber like the gentleman in HI is not going to be able to remove the fretboard and make the board back to its pristine primitive state. It's too much undertaking for little gain.

I could be wrong though. I was wrong once, you know. I realize that's hard to fathom, but it's true. :)

I'll be watching this thread for Kevin's updates and final photos. It's fun just to guess, and that's all we are doing. Others chime in, other chimes welcome.


PS it was mentioned by another post that the bridge does not seem original either. I can't tell for sure. What do you all think?

RyanMFT
05-28-2014, 06:44 AM
I am certainly glad you rescued this little ukulele. A Manuel Nunes ukulele is high on my list of wanted vintage ukuleles!

As mentioned, Lyon & Healy did make their own ukuleles. They had three grades of ukes, Mauna Loa, American Conservatory, and Washburn. Washburn was the highest grade of their ukes. I have an American Conservatory Tenor made of monkey pod wood. They were out of the stringed instrument business (except for harps) by 1928. They still exist, making some of the finest harps in the world.

Nunes often made ukuleles for other businesses, so nothing unusual there.

I have seen all matter of modifications on vintage ukuleles. My first thought when I saw these photos was that the raised fretboard is an added feature as the end cut is not very finely done, and as others have mentioned, Nunes did not use raised fret boards. Also, the wood of the fretboard appears to be different from the neck material. Of course, the raised fret board would require a taller bridge. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that the bridge came off this uke a very long time ago (the pics seem to show a re-glued bridge), and a repairman fixed and "updated" this ukulele with a new bridge and a new raised fretboard. I bet that repair took place in the 30's or 40's. If the luthier who is going to restore it takes that fretboard off, I bet all will be revealed. Perhaps there is even inlay on the original fretboard!

BTW, the frets are not bar frets but are clearly T frets.

Great find! I am always looking and I've yet to have a Nunes find its way to me, but I'll keep my hopes up! Please post photos of the finished restoration.

David Newton
05-28-2014, 07:10 AM
I'm going to further guess--and this is just fun-- that even a skilled refurber like the gentleman in HI is not going to be able to remove the fretboard and make the board back to its pristine primitive state. It's too much undertaking for little gain.
I could be wrong though. I was wrong once, you know. I realize that's hard to fathom, but it's true. :)

I think it is worth a try to reverse the changes. With a workshop full of different Koa wood pieces to get a good match, I think the job would be very straight forward and could turn out to be nearly un-noticeable.

hawaii 50
05-28-2014, 07:40 AM
Lyon & Healy was founded after the Civil War was a retailer, then they got into wholesale and then started manufacturing instruments in their own factory in the 1880's... though they did contract work out to various other manufacturers as well. Washburn was L&H's premium stringed instrument brand, which they trademarked in 1887 though they had been using it since 1883 (Washburn, incidentally, was George Lyon's middle name).

L&H sold their manufacturing division to Stewart in the mid 1920's, and their wholesale division to the Tonk Bros. shortly thereafter, in order to focus on retail. They went bust during the great depression. Most of the corporate records are lost. The modern Washburn company doesn't really have anything to do with the old one, they just acquired the rights to use the name in the 1970's and claim 1883 as the date of their founding (even though 1973 is more like it).

L&H/Washburn definitely did build ukes, but I don't think until the 1920's. The raised fretboard on this one probably was a modification to the typical Nunes requested by L&H retail division. When you think about it, given L&H's history as a retailer, this isn't all that different, conceptually, from the Martins that were built for the Ditson stores in the east (and in fact, Ditson gave L&H their start).

Thanks for the info..

they keep the Lyon and Healy uke with a Oahu guitar and Weisenborn in a glass cabinet at HMS...Mike left them there so not for sale(I think)....but it is in very good condition....on the uke top...it has Gold inlayed leaf design...and I think Mahogany body...
and sounds good too... :)

coolkayaker1
05-28-2014, 11:52 AM
Thanks for the info..

they keep the Lyon and Healy uke with a Oahu guitar and Weisenborn in a glass cabinet at HMS...Mike left them there so not for sale(I think)....but it is in very good condition....on the uke top...it has Gold inlayed leaf design...and I think Mahogany body...
and sounds good too... :)

That's interesting, H50, about keeping the gold leaf L and H uke in a case...I think that's the Washburn, highest end L and H made, with gold leaf painting on the lower bout. Two sold on eBay recently, one for about seven hundred that was near mint, and the other with a couple dings for even less. So, Andrew has at least 100 ukes worth much more in his shop. He can take it out of the glass now. Lol.

mm stan
05-28-2014, 12:27 PM
Thanks, David and Stan.

River diver, while your history is appreciated, I still have my doubts about that fretboard being original and ordered by Lyon and Healy from Manny. Why? There are no other pictures of it on any internet search whatsoever on a Manny uke. L and H sold a boatload of ukes, and to not find one like it on the entire net if L and H ordered even one batch this way, not on Google or Bing, well...

Also, Nunes was known for the primitive fretboard style. It's one of their signatures. To think they redid the process for L and H is unlikely, I think.

Also, David has found a Regal with the extract same fretboard. We all know that Regal and L and H were like this (twists fingers together) so perhaps an employee constructed this uke, sort of like the employee builds at Martin, and used a stock extended and Kamaka-ish fretboard.

Finally, the side dots. Man, those are amateurish as heck...painted on, and poorly at that. L and H or Manny wouldn't do that, I don't think.

So, I'm guessing the fretboard is not Manny N original. Plus, don't forget, it had tuners when Kevin bought it that truly do not seen original. So, I have to side with the first to suggest this, brother Skinny. I'm going to further guess--and this is just fun-- that even a skilled refurber like the gentleman in HI is not going to be able to remove the fretboard and make the board back to its pristine primitive state. It's too much undertaking for little gain.

I could be wrong though. I was wrong once, you know. I realize that's hard to fathom, but it's true. :)

I'll be watching this thread for Kevin's updates and final photos. It's fun just to guess, and that's all we are doing. Others chime in, other chimes welcome.


PS it was mentioned by another post that the bridge does not seem original either. I can't tell for sure. What do you all think?

Aloha Steve..
Like I said, I dont see and grooves in the lower neck fretboard and it might be original and they would have to change the whole neck and the neck at the body seems to look original
it could have been consigned to be built that way...and a very intresting headstock which may be part of the equation too...

Pukulele Pete
05-28-2014, 12:54 PM
My guess is that L&H had Nunes make their ukes with the top fretboard in order to make theirs look different from his . I think you would see cuts in the lower fretboard for the frets. Could be a prototype or maybe just a few were made this way. Anyway , its a cool uke.

Skinny Money McGee
05-28-2014, 02:05 PM
Take a close look at these pictures. Could these marks possibly be a remanent of the original fret slots prior to the neck being shaved down, when they added that spacer between the current fretboard and the neck? Some of the marks look pretty squared off.

RyanMFT
05-28-2014, 03:35 PM
I'd like to see a picture of where the rope binding meets the fretboard. On ukes of this vintage with no raised fretboard and with rope binding, the rope continues around the top of the soundboard, under the last fret. I wonder if the rope binding appears to be finished and ended at the fretboard or if it appears to continue under it?

KevinV
05-28-2014, 04:01 PM
I'd like to see a picture of where the rope binding meets the fretboard. On ukes of this vintage with no raised fretboard and with rope binding, the rope continues around the top of the soundboard, under the last fret. I wonder if the rope binding appears to be finished and ended at the fretboard or if it appears to continue under it?

I didn't get the uke mailed out today so I just unboxed it and checked to see what the binding looks like where you mention. I really can't tell whether it extends underneath the fretboard or not.

After all that has been brought up and pointed out, from my end, it looks as though Skinny Money McGee and the others that mentioned it are correct. The original neck/fretboard was planed down, a spacer was added, and the extended fretboard mounted on top. The tells for me are the 2 layers above the neck, the small squared off spots SMM pointed out (you've got good eyes…I didn't even notice that with it in my hands), and the fact that there is a small, very squared off spot in the neck on the G string side below the spacer where a nut would have seated (very similar to the small grooves for frets in SMM's pics).

For what reason this was done, I don't know. Maybe play wear, damage, or just the desire for change. The bridge is definitely not original and the higher profile makes sense to have been changed when the fretboard was added.

What I do know is that this is the coolest piece of uke history I've ever had and trust Kilin will do a first rate job on restoring it as closely to Nunes specs as possible. To me it's worth the expense, and I also feel a bit of obligation to have it taken care of. It's historical. And if the amount of play wear is any indication of how much someone loved the tone of this thing, I think I'll be in for a real treat when all is said and done. I'm not looking to flip this thing, I want a correctly built Nunes, even if some of the parts are replacements, that I can play, enjoy, and pass on to my heirs. So for me, resale value means little. Historical accuracy, visual appearance, playability, and tone trump all.

I'm heading to the post office or FedEx (haven't decided which yet) in the morning to get it off to Kilin. I'm anxious to hear what he has to say when he has it in hand. I'll be sure to pass on his findings so some of these mysteries can be solved. I really wish I knew the history behind it.

hawaii 50
05-28-2014, 05:59 PM
That's interesting, H50, about keeping the gold leaf L and H uke in a case...I think that's the Washburn, highest end L and H made, with gold leaf painting on the lower bout. Two sold on eBay recently, one for about seven hundred that was near mint, and the other with a couple dings for even less. So, Andrew has at least 100 ukes worth much more in his shop. He can take it out of the glass now. Lol.



Thanks Cool...

not about the money...in the glass case with Mike's Weisenborn and Oahu Guitar
just a few of Mike's stuff from his days there.... :)

hmgberg
05-28-2014, 06:19 PM
The Washburn style with gold leaf is not the highest style. Actually, there are two higher: one with shell inlay rosette; and the highest is similar to a Martin 5K, with shell all around and a tulip head stock.

hawaii 50
05-28-2014, 06:26 PM
The Washburn style with gold leaf is not the highest style. Actually, there are two higher: one with shell inlay rosette; and the highest is similar to a Martin 5K, with shell all around and a tulip head stock.

Thanks..i was there when you looked at the Lyon and Healy uke...i should of asked you more questions then...

dusty
05-28-2014, 06:35 PM
I'm new to ukes but not to shipping valuables: I'd go FedEx.

Congrats on your find!



I'm heading to the post office or FedEx (haven't decided which yet) in the morning to get it off to Kilin.

mm stan
05-28-2014, 07:00 PM
I know manual nunes made fret boards flush and raised straight cut bottom, but I have never seen one like the one you have...
His early headstocks were straighter and more cruder with not that high of a middle crown...the binding seems to be right though and label
Here is a style 3 deluxe from the martin site ....http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.yuku.com/reply/1654829/Re-JM-Uke-of-the-Month-Manuel-Nunes-Style-3-Ukulele

coolkayaker1
05-28-2014, 07:53 PM
The Washburn style with gold leaf is not the highest style. Actually, there are two higher: one with shell inlay rosette; and the highest is similar to a Martin 5K, with shell all around and a tulip head stock.
Thanks, Howard, for the information. If you ever see one of those for sale, I'd love to see it. Thanks, friend. You've given much good advice over the years.

That's a cool forum post, mmstan. Interesting.

KevinV, you didn't say, but are you going to have Killin replace the bridge and revert to the wooden peg tuners, too? I don't know if he carves that stuff or what. I agree with you, the closer to original the better. Wonder how far he can take it. David seems to think he can refurb the fretboard, and David is a luthier. I thought it'd be tough since the original is planed down already as SMM notes. Hmmm.

This is an epic thread and, although you may never know the backstory, you have created a new story for your heirs, and that's all that truly matters.

Did I mention that I am potty trained and adoptable?

pondweed
05-28-2014, 10:49 PM
After a second look, I'm positive the fretboard is original. If that layer underneath it was a fretboard, the fret slots would be clearly visible. There are none. And if someone had planed it down to get it that way, it would be far below the level of the soundboard. It's not. That is surely an M. Nunes with its original fretboard. The layer beneath may just be what was used to make an old ukulele design work with a new generation fretboard. It's odd but I think had to be glued there by the Nunes Company.

I've been scratching my head over this. Surely other original Nunes designs had direct fretting into the neck wood.. No form of fingerboard. Unless there was some sort of insert of posh fingerboard to be flush with the rest of the body... In which case the body would have had to have been sanded back to account for the disappearance of the frets... (And there is no way that would be possible on a top already pretty thin.)

Is it possible it's an entirely replaced neck?

Or else, is it possible that the original flamed neck recessed insert was worn and THEN the decision was made to do the upgrade to the longer fretboard. (Hence the piece of unfretted wood inserted below, so the fret gaps wouldn't be seen.

I can't see that Nunes would have ever allowed that compromised hidden layer of wood. It just looks a bodge.

But why didn't they just replace the original flush fretboard... Presumably someone who wanted more than 12 frets for playing.

KevinV
05-29-2014, 01:47 AM
KevinV, you didn't say, but are you going to have Killin replace the bridge and revert to the wooden peg tuners, too? I don't know if he carves that stuff or what. I agree with you, the closer to original the better. Wonder how far he can take it. David seems to think he can refurb the fretboard, and David is a luthier. I thought it'd be tough since the original is planed down already as SMM notes. Hmmm.

Kilin said he has a set of Nunes peg tuners for it, and will be making a new Koa bridge from a Nunes template. As for the neck/fretboard, I imagine that will still be a matter of having to take it down to the neck and add a new layer for the fretboard, or removing only the current fretboard and planing/fretting the current sandwiched board. I don't know how else you would do it with the neck no longer flush to the body.

When he's done, from my understanding, it should look like a Nunes Style 3 Deluxe, albeit with a planed neck and separate unextended fretboard which is flush to the top with the binding going all the way around the top, including below the fretboard (hopefully those bits of wood are still there under the existing fretboard addition).

David Newton
05-29-2014, 04:40 AM
I think it is brilliant that McGee really looked closely at the 3 pics and discovered the marks of the original frets, and the position of the marks may be a clue for why the modification was made: that the original fret positions were off and made the uke hard to play in tune.

I'm certain your repair guy will know and do what it takes to bring it back as close to original as possible, with a properly spaced fret board.

Congratulations remain in effect for your getting this beauty, and for the direction you are going with it.

pondweed
05-29-2014, 04:56 AM
But there is no way frets would have extended that low? Unless the neck has been reset lower.

pondweed
05-29-2014, 05:09 AM
From the headstock shape I think it is Regal.
Did they really have that curve between the tuners? I'd have said that was more top end early Harmony. The body shape doesn't look flat enough at the ends for me, for a Regal?

stevepetergal
05-29-2014, 06:38 AM
Take a close look at these pictures. Could these marks possibly be a remanent of the original fret slots prior to the neck being shaved down, when they added that spacer between the current fretboard and the neck? Some of the marks look pretty squared off.

Yes, they could be if the scale length was shorter at one time. Very observant. I still believe, if any modifications were made to this instrument, they were made by the original manufacturer.

Main reason: Why??

Had to remove the frets, move, completely redesign, fabricate, and replace the bridge, plane the neck down, glue the spacer layer where the original fretboard was, fabricate a new fretboard, change the scale length, fret the new fretboard... Who would have gone through all this eighty years ago to a ukulele that could be readily replaced? Was this a special ukulele? Considered collectible back then? If so, this special or collectible? No.

Did the technology even exist in the local luthier's shop to plane the neck down an eight of an inch as perfectly as this looks? If so, why do all this? For a few extra frets? Possible, but hardly likely.

If the instrument wasn't designed this way, and wasn't some sort of prototype or limited run, Lyon and Healy could easily have asked the builder to make a few mods for a customer. Up-charge? For sure. But far more likely than taking a simple, and not terribly old (then) instrument and turning it into a completely different, simple instrument for very little change.

mm stan
05-29-2014, 06:55 AM
We will know when the fretboard comes off....be patient...Ha ha on the speculation.... :)

coolkayaker1
05-29-2014, 07:04 AM
We will know when the fretboard comes off....be patient...Ha ha on the speculation.... :)

SPGal has some points, all these mods--fretboard, tuners, and bridge--with basic hand tools, on a then relatively cheap Nunes? His insight adds to the speculation, and growing legend, of the now famous KevinV Nunes ukulele.

mmstan, do us a big favor: since you know Killin, phone him up and tell him that about a dozen of us cannot sleep at night until he tells us his impressions on this instrument. Counting sheep, alcohol, air conditioner on high with a wool blanket, it's all as useless as the mouth-apple of a luau hog. We can't sleep!

mm stan
05-29-2014, 07:13 AM
SPGal has some points, all these mods--fretboard, tuners, and bridge--with basic hand tools, on a then relatively cheap Nunes? His insight adds to the speculation, and growing legend, of the now famous KevinV Nunes ukulele.

mmstan, do us a big favor: since you know Killin, phone him up and tell him that about a dozen of us cannot sleep at night until he tells us his impressions on this instrument. Counting sheep, alcohol, air conditioner on high with a wool blanket, it's all as useless as the mouth-apple of a luau hog. We can't sleep!
Aloha Steve,
We have to be patient..but I do agree this is so exciting...cant wait to hear more..

David Newton
05-29-2014, 08:01 AM
Best thread ever!

cletus
05-29-2014, 09:26 AM
... it's all as useless as the mouth-apple of a luau hog...

Keep 'em coming!:drool:

KevinV
05-29-2014, 10:15 AM
The uke is now with FedEx. I'll update when Kilin gets his hands on it and lets me know his thoughts.

hawaii 50
05-29-2014, 10:33 AM
The uke is now with FedEx. I'll update when Kilin gets his hands on it and lets me know his thoughts.


Hey Kev...

I sent Ki-lin the link to this thread....hopefully he has time to read it....

stevepetergal
05-29-2014, 10:37 AM
We will know when the fretboard comes off....be patient...Ha ha on the speculation.... :)

Still won't know. Impossible to ever know. The original maker was practically the only party capable of this work back then.

Tuners don't really mean much. Plenty of legit reasons to change them over the course of the uke's lifetime.

hawaii 50
05-29-2014, 10:43 AM
Still won't know. Impossible to ever know. The original maker was practically the only party capable of this work back then.

Tuners don't really mean much. Plenty of legit reasons to change them over the course of the uke's lifetime.

I believe Mr. Nunes has a son or grandson that is a Luthier in Kailua...maybe he can shed some light...

KevinV
05-29-2014, 11:01 AM
Hey Kev...

I sent Ki-lin the link to this thread....hopefully he has time to read it....

Thanks. I just spoke with him on the phone. He said he found another picture of a Nunes in his research that he's going to send to me.

mm stan
05-29-2014, 11:54 AM
Seems Like Manuel sold many ukes to different music stores and uke companies..this one has white pegs and calfornia sticker..
http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-UKE-Manuel-Nunes-Soprano-Ukelele-made-between-1900-1915-/171337858445?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27e4883d8d
but contact Andy Roth in australia for some info, he is the biggest collector on vintage ukes and maybe the most knowledable....good luck

coolkayaker1
05-29-2014, 04:20 PM
Thanks. I just spoke with him on the phone. He said he found another picture of a Nunes in his research that he's going to send to me.
Another Nunes photo coming to Kevin's thread?! I think I'm going to pass out.


Seems Like Manuel sold many ukes to different music stores and uke companies..this one has white pegs and calfornia sticker..
http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-UKE-Manuel-Nunes-Soprano-Ukelele-made-between-1900-1915-/171337858445?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27e4883d8d
but contact Andy Roth in australia for some info, he is the biggest collector on vintage ukes and maybe the most knowledable....good luck

Shawn Y's UkeFriend Nunes has white pegs, also. Weird.

KevinV
05-31-2014, 02:44 PM
FedEx tracking puts the uke in Honolulu. Oh how I wish I was with it.

chefuke
05-31-2014, 07:11 PM
Yes, they could be if the scale length was shorter at one time. Very observant. I still believe, if any modifications were made to this instrument, they were made by the original manufacturer.

Main reason: Why??

Had to remove the frets, move, completely redesign, fabricate, and replace the bridge, plane the neck down, glue the spacer layer where the original fretboard was, fabricate a new fretboard, change the scale length, fret the new fretboard... Who would have gone through all this eighty years ago to a ukulele that could be readily replaced? Was this a special ukulele? Considered collectible back then? If so, this special or collectible? No.

Did the technology even exist in the local luthier's shop to plane the neck down an eight of an inch as perfectly as this looks? If so, why do all this? For a few extra frets? Possible, but hardly likely.

If the instrument wasn't designed this way, and wasn't some sort of prototype or limited run, Lyon and Healy could easily have asked the builder to make a few mods for a customer. Up-charge? For sure. But far more likely than taking a simple, and not terribly old (then) instrument and turning it into a completely different, simple instrument for very little change.

It seems possible that at one point it was owned by a person with big hands and it was customized to suit - so much work to drop the neck and add those bits in there. almost a shame to undo all this.

mm stan
05-31-2014, 09:58 PM
FedEx tracking puts the uke in Honolulu. Oh how I wish I was with it.
okay Kevin you bought it on ebay ...who is the seller I would love to see this before it leaves honolulu...

pondweed
06-01-2014, 04:58 AM
come on, keep up - its on its WAY there to Ki-Lin for fixing, surely…

KevinV
06-01-2014, 02:25 PM
okay Kevin you bought it on ebay ...who is the seller I would love to see this before it leaves honolulu...

Hey Stan,

I bought it locally at a thrift shop here in Florida and shipped it to Kilin in Kailua via FedEx. It's in Honolulu now and is scheduled to be delivered to him tomorrow.

mm stan
06-01-2014, 06:21 PM
oh thank you kevin..wow

RyanMFT
06-01-2014, 08:02 PM
The original maker was practically the only party capable of this work back then.

I feel a little different Steve. This ukulele does not date to the early era of Nunes ukuleles (pre 1900), and if I were to guess, I would date this ukulele ca. 1915 - 1920, give or take a few. By that time, there were quite a few other luthiers and cabinet makers in Hawaii capable of this work. However, this ukulele was likely not originally sold in Hawaii, but somewhere on the mainland after being shipped from Hawaii. IMHO, the alterations were likely made on the mainland, and by the time this ukulele was made, there were many other builders in the islands. Nunes had a big shop, he employed many workers and this ukulele may have even been worked on by a young Sam Kamaka as he trained in Nunes's shop.

Skinny Money McGee
06-03-2014, 02:36 PM
Bump..... don't want this thread to fade into the abyss

jeff mercer
06-03-2014, 03:35 PM
Hey all.
The M.Nunes that mm stan posted a link to a few pages back is one from my collection.

Unlike many vintage Hawaiian-made ukes of this era,the OP's uke can be dated fairly accurately..the TABU stamp came into use in 1916, & M.Nunes & Sons closed its doors in 1917, so it can only be one of those 2 years.

Hope this is of some help, guys.
Cheers,
Jeff.

KevinV
06-03-2014, 03:43 PM
Hey all.
The M.Nunes that mm stan posted a link to a few pages back is one from my collection.

Unlike many vintage Hawaiian-made ukes of this era,the OP's uke can be dated fairly accurately..the TABU stamp came into use in 1916, & M.Nunes & Sons closed its doors in 1917, so it can only be one of those 2 years.

Hope this is of some help, guys.
Cheers,
Jeff.

Thanks for the post, Jeff. I'm certainly not going to complain about a 2-year window. That's pretty close when you're talking nearly 100 years old.

KevinV
06-03-2014, 03:49 PM
I heard back from Kilin today and he said…

"I received the uke yesterday afternoon and it's my opinion that the fingerboard is not a Nunes original, but likely an early add on. The nut slot that extends below the fingerboard and the spacer/shim is evidence to me that the fingerboard was a later addition. I plan to go over it all with a magnifying glass this afternoon when I return to my shop and will be happy to send on photos documenting what I have determined."


I'll post an update when I hear back from him. This is pretty exciting.

RyanMFT
06-03-2014, 08:13 PM
Unlike many vintage Hawaiian-made ukes of this era,the OP's uke can be dated fairly accurately..the TABU stamp came into use in 1916, & M.Nunes & Sons closed its doors in 1917, so it can only be one of those 2 years.


Thanks for pinning it down Jeff, glad to learn from you.

coolkayaker1
06-04-2014, 12:18 AM
Great post, Jeff, with excellent Nunes info.

Curious, what was the state of Lyon and Healy in the mid-teens? Were they making their own ukes yet, or were they merchandisers ordering exclusively from the likes of Nunes then?

KevinV
06-04-2014, 05:46 AM
The latest from Kilin…

"Hi Kevin,

Well Ive looked over this uke with a magnifying glass, and every time I think I've solved the riddle I'm faced with a new perplexing detail. I can confidently say the following:

1. This neck at one point had a nut and frets installed below where the shim/spacer now sits.

2. The spacer/shim is koa and very close in grain and color to the neck.

3. The age of the finish on the edges of the fingerboard and current nut is just about as old as the finish on the rest of the uke. The wear and apparent application strokes of the finish around the fingerboard extension on the top is very old, and would indicate that the body of the ukulele was refinished when the fingerboard was applied.

4. The frets are "T" frets, not bar frets which is what Nunes ukes would have had at this point.

The problem with detail number 1 is that if this ukulele had a nut and frets installed on the neck below the current shim, there would have been a ledge where the neck joined the body, which makes no sense.

I am very curious what the shim looks like under the superficial fingerboard.

Its too early for me to make any definitive conclusions, but here are a couple potential scenarios that I am looking into.

A. This ukulele was put together in the Nunes shop, with a neck that had either been on a different uke, or was modified in the building process to correct either a mistake or change in specifications.

B. This ukulele was assembled as a potential prototype for Lyon and Healy by Nunes shop. The quality of Koa used makes this unlikely, but still worth entertaining.

C. Someone very early in this ukes life made a new fingerboard, nut, added the shim and bridge. The chances of a hobbyist doing this in the early 1900s to me seems very unlikely, but also worth entertaining.



I have contacted three of the foremost authorities on vintage Hawaiian made instruments and will be sharing some photos and meeting in person to compare your uke side by side with at least 10 other Nunes ukes. I will take photos and share as I go.

Thanks-Kilin"


Very cool. He sent some pics too that I'm able to view in Yahoo Mail, but for some reason I can't find them on my computer when I try to save them. I'll keep looking into that and post the pics when I get it figured out.

Maiden Uke
06-04-2014, 05:59 AM
Very interesting thread! Mysterious. The plot thickens as the detectives go to work!

pondweed
06-04-2014, 06:00 AM
Just as I thought - neck has been re-used or reset. It just didn't make sense.

Sounds like he really wants to suggest keeping the thing as is…it's a cut and shut…. but a vintage one!

But curiosity about its construction might suggest another route!:D

HOW EXCITING - you ought to write a book on it.

coolkayaker1
06-04-2014, 06:23 AM
I think CBS's TV show, 48 Hours, is looking for new mysteries. Someone send them this thread!

(KV, please find a way to post the latest pics, if not here then on flickr or something).

KevinV
06-04-2014, 07:12 AM
Figured it out. Here are the pics Kilin sent…

67361 67362 67363 67364 67365

KevinV
06-04-2014, 07:12 AM
One more…

67366

Skinny Money McGee
06-04-2014, 07:43 AM
Cool Kev, all three scenarios sounds like what various people were guessing. Ask him what he thinks about about those 1940's (50's?) Kluson tuners in respect to the fretboard that was installed. Might be a clue as to when the work was done.

Those are the same tuning keys that were on my late 40's Martin style 1. Maybe someone knows how long Kluson made that particular tuner.

coolkayaker1
06-04-2014, 11:43 AM
The latest from Kilin…


Its too early for me to make any definitive conclusions, but here are a couple potential scenarios that I am looking into.

A. This ukulele was put together in the Nunes shop, with a neck that had either been on a different uke, or was modified in the building process to correct either a mistake or change in specifications.

B. This ukulele was assembled as a potential prototype for Lyon and Healy by Nunes shop. The quality of Koa used makes this unlikely, but still worth entertaining.

C. Someone very early in this ukes life made a new fingerboard, nut, added the shim and bridge. The chances of a hobbyist doing this in the early 1900s to me seems very unlikely, but also worth entertaining.








I find all three of these scenarios as unlikely. Kilin is the expert, but fun speculation is enjoyable and that's all I'm doing here (based on facts given by Kilin's expert eye).

A. Put together at Nunes shop: With a Regal style fretboard end? There is no evidence (but the experts may tell differently) that Nunes ever made any neck other than their standard, sometimes referred to as "primitive" neck (not a pejorative term as used here; David Newton explained it to me once, I believe, as flat fetboard, one piece with the neck). Not one single photo of anything different on any Nunes factory model (that I can see).

B. A prototype for Lyon and Healy: unlikely for the same reason as above, complete re-tooling for Nunes.

C. Someone early in the life of this uke made a new fingerboard: as Kilin and Stevepetergal mention, why? The tools weren't available, and the uke was new in the teens. Why majorly mod this (at the time) modestly priced ukulele.

*D. The developing theory with supportive findings (those by Kilin): the fretboard was replaced not when the instrument was new, but when the instrument was old...about 30 years old. Well played by then, finger pot marks all over the original primitive fretboard and strum rash on soundboard, etc. Wooden tuners shot (abraided through and by then low friction, poor hold). So, why not upgrade to 1940s technology. Replace fretboard (still not a small chore), likely with a Regal fretboard, extended (as David found in his posted photo). Add 1940s Kluson tuners. Refinish the entire uke face and/or body (which is an important Kilin observation). Change the bridge, which by then was likely a chipped mess. I think it was done all around the same time. (This is what Skinny has been alluding to, but I don't want to speak for brother Skinny, certainly. I do credit him with this line of thinking, unless he wants to dis-own it. lol)). The only thing that speaks against this, one would say, is the fact that one could buy a new uke then, right? BUT, keep in mind, Martins and Gibsons were quite expensive in the 1940s, as would be any new uke (Regal, L&H, etc.), especially when one already owns this beauty. Then, just as Kevin is going to invest in the uke now to do major work on it, someone who played it then, or had family sentiment, certainly would have wanted to make that specific uke playable again. It would have been modded about one generation after it was first made by Nunes, a natural time for heirloom sentiment (1940s son: "I know it's shot, but it's my Pop's vaudeville uke. Cliff Edwards played it once! I'm going to make it playable again!")

Please take this as just fun guesswork, and that's the spirit in which it's intended. Welcome all dissenting opinions.

(btw, I don;t think any of this is going to detract from the value of Kevin's uke once he and Kilin get to "unwinding" the mods. :-)

KevinV
06-04-2014, 12:39 PM
I don't think the change to the geared tuners is related to the fretboard change. The reason why is twofold…


There were only 3 geared tuners and a mismatched friction tuner. It looks like someone put on whatever they could find so they could attach strings.
The geared tuners were not on very good. There were gaps where you could see past the washer into the peg hole.


Both of those point to the tuners as afterthoughts just to get the thing up and running. The amount of work that went into putting on a new fretboard is not consistent with putting on tuners, even if there were 4 matching tuners at the time, and leaving gaps to see where the tuners don't quite fit. All it would have taken was a larger washer. I would think that after putting that much time into the board, a few washers wouldn't be considered over the top.

I don't believe the timing of the tuner swap is related to the timing of the board swap. I included the tuners in a baggie for Kilin to look at, but I doubt they're going to give any worthwhile clues.

river_driver
06-04-2014, 02:19 PM
Great post, Jeff, with excellent Nunes info.

Curious, what was the state of Lyon and Healy in the mid-teens? Were they making their own ukes yet, or were they merchandisers ordering exclusively from the likes of Nunes then?

L&H was an absolute juggernaut in terms of manufacture, retail, and wholesale in the mid-teens - but I don't think L&H started manufacturing ukes themselves until about 1920-ish.

(I actually broke down and finally ordered the "Washburn Prewar Instruments" book, which I had been eyeing for some time, becasue of this thread! Should have it in a couple more days.)

Didn't the uke craze in the US really kick into high gear because of the 1915 Pan Pacific Exposition in California? This being a 1916 or 1917 model, with a L&H retail label, makes sense with regard to L&H's aggressive business model of the time.

Now as to the mysteries of the neck & fretboard, I'm as curious as everyone else here!

jeff mercer
06-04-2014, 02:45 PM
River-driver,
Yep, L & H were offering Nunes ukes -both Manuels(Hawaii) & his son Leonardos(LA)- as early as 1915. They didn't get into manufacturing their "own brand" Washburn ukes until around 1923, & even then, they advertised them alongside Leonardo Nunes ukes (Manuel had passed away by this stage.)
Cheers,
Jeff.

Patrick Madsen
06-04-2014, 02:57 PM
I have a tenor banjo from that era with a flapper girl inked on the head. The fingerboard is well worn from the long nails the previous player had. May have been a woman. Seeing the uke was very popular back then, perhaps the fingerboard was so deeply worn from long nails it had to be replaced.

KevinV
06-04-2014, 03:20 PM
I have a tenor banjo from that era with a flapper girl inked on the head. The fingerboard is well worn from the long nails the previous player had. May have been a woman. Seeing the uke was very popular back then, perhaps the fingerboard was so deeply worn from long nails it had to be replaced.

If you look at the pictures of the fretboard in post #9, you can see the grooves worn into the first 6 frets. They were quite substantial. I've been trying to find an image of someone playing an extended fretboard Nunes, thinking that might shed some light on this uke. Now you've got me thinking I should be concentrating on old photos of flapper girls with ukes.

Ukulele forensics.

chefuke
06-04-2014, 08:25 PM
Sounds plausible - but why make the neck thicker and add extra frets? A musician lady with big hands?

pondweed
06-04-2014, 09:27 PM
One more…

67366

Looking at the new pics, the workmanship on the added fingerboard appears to be quite poor. Look at the angle of some of the slots for the T frets. And the fret finishing... Whilst admittedly this could be from far later in its life, there is a lot of fret levelling damage on the fingerboard. It doesn't shout quality workmanship.
If you look at construction on an Ohana sk 28, the neck is primitive but there IS a recessed fingerboard, presumably to separate the dirty work from the clean work in the workshop. This follows that model... The damaged primitive neck insert was transformed to an insert to permit a longer fretboard and/or a longer scale length?

coolkayaker1
06-05-2014, 12:09 AM
Thank you both for the Lyon and Healy info, Jeff mercer and river diver.

Patrick Madsen
06-05-2014, 06:28 AM
I'm sure back then, many didn't take their instruments to luthiers for stuff we have done now a days. They either did it themselves, had the local cabinet maker, wagon builder or whomever was available do the work.

KevinV
06-12-2014, 01:10 AM
Latest update from Kilin…

"Hi Kevin,

Just an update, all's going well with the research on the uke. I've consulted with two of the three main sources of info on early Hawaiian Ukes, all of whom agree that you have a special little uke here. Both have concurred that restoring as close to original condition is the appropriate thing to do, which is basically what we discussed previously.

I was curious if you had any interest in pursuing an oral history of the uke, perhaps by contacting the thrift shop you got it from and trying to track down the story that way. Its a bit of a stretch, but a best case scenario would be locating the original owners family and finding an old photograph with the uke, either in pre fingerboard condition, or not, with a dateable reference to figure out this story. Im fairly confident we can date this particular uke to 1916. If you dont have the time, I would be interested in calling them and at least asking some general questions.

I am going to start restoring the cracks next week, and have located some original white plastic friction pegs which based on my research thus far is the exact style this uke had when Manuel first strung it up and sent it out on the boats leaving Honolulu harbor for the mainland.

Thanks-Ki"

VampireWeekday
06-12-2014, 02:08 AM
I'm sure I'm not the only one who would be fascinated to read the story if you're able to track down more history on this instrument. This has been a great thread! I also now know where to go on island for restoration work on anything other than a Kamaka.

pondweed
06-12-2014, 03:57 AM
so what does the update mean? Are you are going to take the later fingerboard off? ('as close to original is the appropriate thing to do')

wayfarer75
06-12-2014, 05:11 AM
so what does the update mean? Are you are going to take the later fingerboard off? ('as close to original is the appropriate thing to do')

That's what I was wondering too. It would be awesome if the uke's history could be tracked down.

KevinV
06-12-2014, 06:46 PM
so what does the update mean? Are you are going to take the later fingerboard off? ('as close to original is the appropriate thing to do')

Yes, that is the plan. Kilin is going to restore the uke to as original as possible to the way it was when it left M Nunes hands as a finished ukulele.

KevinV
07-11-2014, 04:21 AM
Kilin has removed the fretboard. The shim was not a whole neck shim that required the planing of the neck, it was only 2 strips on the sides of the neck like binding. The original flush neck/fretboard and fret slots are intact as well as the rope binding that was under the added fretboard. This is great news.

68751 68752 68753

Skinny Money McGee
07-11-2014, 05:47 AM
How great is that? Like hitting the jackpot!! Cannot wait to see the finished product

wayfarer75
07-11-2014, 07:53 AM
I'm glad to see this update--so excited for you!

iamesperambient
07-11-2014, 08:26 AM
I'm glad to see this update--so excited for you!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2EUwdhmE8c

I'd rather play my 30 dollar diamond head soprano than this nunes wow this one sounds off big time.

hawaii 50
07-11-2014, 08:45 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2EUwdhmE8c

I'd rather play my 30 dollar diamond head soprano than this nunes wow this one sounds off big time.


wow! why the low blow....:)

iamesperambient
07-11-2014, 08:49 AM
wow! why the low blow....:)

sorry not trying to give a low blow i was just very surprised when i looked this up in youtube
and found this sample and it sounded so bad as far as intonation and the tone it'self was not
every good very dead and lifeless. Its a cool antique to own for this history though. Does
anyone know if any of these are still playable they don't sound awful like this one?
I would assume theres gotta be one somewhere in mint condition thats set up that
sounds alright.

coolkayaker1
07-11-2014, 08:51 AM
I would assume theres gotta be one somewhere in mint condition thats set up that
sounds alright.

Yeah, Kevin's.

iamesperambient
07-11-2014, 09:00 AM
Yeah, Kevin's.

I mean on the internet as a sample to here it.

coolkayaker1
07-11-2014, 09:31 AM
I mean on the internet as a sample to here it.
Be patient, young Jedi.

iamesperambient
07-11-2014, 09:32 AM
Be patient, young Jedi.

will do will do.

pondweed
07-11-2014, 10:22 AM
Kilin has removed the fretboard. The shim was not a whole neck shim that required the planing of the neck, it was only 2 strips on the sides of the neck like binding. The original flush neck/fretboard and fret slots are intact as well as the rope binding that was under the added fretboard. This is great news.
ok, so looking back at the first pics, the person who converted it originally added the side strips to get rid of the fret holes/ends. But how did they remove so neatly/cut those sections in - remove the neck presumably?

RyanMFT
07-11-2014, 10:55 AM
sorry not trying to give a low blow i was just very surprised when i looked this up in youtube
and found this sample and it sounded so bad as far as intonation and the tone it'self was not
every good very dead and lifeless. Its a cool antique to own for this history though. Does
anyone know if any of these are still playable they don't sound awful like this one?
I would assume theres gotta be one somewhere in mint condition thats set up that
sounds alright.

Lots of vintage and early ukuleles sound wonderful....I have many. The one in the video is a Leonardo Nunes, made in Los Angeles. They don't have to be in mint condition to sound wonderful, but earlier ukuleles often sound different as compared to modern ukes.

DazW
07-11-2014, 11:26 AM
Lots of vintage and early ukuleles sound wonderful....I have many. The one in the video is a Leonardo Nunes, made in Los Angeles. They don't have to be in mint condition to sound wonderful, but earlier ukuleles often sound different as compared to modern ukes.

I agree and actually like the tone and sound of that uke. Only my opinion, but I personally think with ukes like that you have got to be a little forgiving with the intonation. Its not just a case of tuning it accurately to your tuner then everything's ok, you may have to compromise and find a sweet spot where it's just about in tune, and intonation is near enough.
It does frustrate me when I see videos of people playing and all sounds great, until they hit that one chord where the intonation is off. I know it takes a good ear to get around this but it usually can be done if you just don't rely on the tuner and mess around a little til it sounds nice.

DazW
07-11-2014, 12:00 PM
sorry not trying to give a low blow i was just very surprised when i looked this up in youtube
and found this sample and it sounded so bad as far as intonation and the tone it'self was not
every good very dead and lifeless. Its a cool antique to own for this history though. Does
anyone know if any of these are still playable they don't sound awful like this one?
I would assume theres gotta be one somewhere in mint condition thats set up that
sounds alright.

This one sounds spot on to me.


www.youtube.com/watch?v=6---FrYNEso

iamesperambient
07-11-2014, 12:54 PM
This one sounds spot on to me.


www.youtube.com/watch?v=6---FrYNEso

yep it sure does thanks for this link! it sounds awesome!

vanflynn
07-11-2014, 01:55 PM
Wow, that is great news. Thanks for letting us enjoy the progress.

What's the word on the bridge?

Patrick Madsen
07-11-2014, 02:02 PM
Sounds like it wasn't tuned right in the first video. May have used his tin ear rather than a tuner.

KevinV
07-11-2014, 02:15 PM
Wow, that is great news. Thanks for letting us enjoy the progress.

What's the word on the bridge?

He's matching woods and building a new one from a Nunes bridge template. The bridge will be just like the original when he's done. I'm looking forward to seeing that on there.

chefuke
07-11-2014, 02:25 PM
I agree and actually like the tone and sound of that uke. Only my opinion, but I personally think with ukes like that you have got to be a little forgiving with the intonation. Its not just a case of tuning it accurately to your tuner then everything's ok, you may have to compromise and find a sweet spot where it's just about in tune, and intonation is near enough.
It does frustrate me when I see videos of people playing and all sounds great, until they hit that one chord where the intonation is off. I know it takes a good ear to get around this but it usually can be done if you just don't rely on the tuner and mess around a little til it sounds nice.

Could'nt agree with you more! I got a Leo Nunes and it sounds absolutely stunning! I had to drop the chromatic tuner and fiddle with it using my ears. So far I have not played or listened to another uke live that sounded better to my ears than the Old Leo.

hawaii 50
07-11-2014, 04:02 PM
He's matching woods and building a new one from a Nunes bridge template. The bridge will be just like the original when he's done. I'm looking forward to seeing that on there.



Hey thanks Kev for the update...hope fully the negative comments stay off this thread...keep fingers crossed....:)
so far I am enjoying this thread....I guess we will be reading about the Nunes for a while....do you have any idea how long the restoration will take?

next time I see Ki-lin in Wahiawa I will say hello and maybe try to set up an appointment to check out the uke when it gets close to the finish...

fyi Ki-lin a great musician,blue grass kind of his thing and he is on Corey's CD playing on "Sun Beams"...that is him on the slide guitar....:)

KevinV
07-11-2014, 04:16 PM
Hey thanks Kev for the update...hope fully the negative comments stay off this thread...keep fingers crossed....:)
so far I am enjoying this thread....I guess we will be reading about the Nunes for a while....do you have any idea how long the restoration will take?

next time I see Ki-lin in Wahiawa I will say hello and maybe try to set up an appointment to check out the uke when it get close to the finish...

fyi Ki-lin a great musician,blue grass kind of his thing and he is on Corey's CD playing on "Sun Beams"...that is him on the slide guitar....:)

I'm not sure how long it'll take. I'm in no hurry and I'm sure Kilin's got a shop full of work to do and other projects more pressing. What's a few months to a nearly 100 year old uke?

I have that CD…some great music. I'll listen for the slide guitar on Sun Beams the next time I listen to the disc.

You're more than welcome to play the uke when he's got it done before it heads back to the mainland. If you get a chance to, post up a picture with it. :cool:

hawaii 50
07-11-2014, 04:32 PM
I'm not sure how long it'll take. I'm in no hurry and I'm sure Kilin's got a shop full of work to do and other projects more pressing. What's a few months to a nearly 100 year old uke?

I have that CD…some great music. I'll listen for the slide guitar on Sun Beams the next time I listen to the disc.

You're more than welcome to play the uke when he's got it done before it heads back to the mainland. If you get a chance to, post up a picture with it. :cool:

Thanks Kev...yes Ki-lin should take his time..that is a special uke....

I got my songs mixed up a little....Ki-Lin really shines on the "Mystery" on Corey's CD...a Tommy Emanuel song...haunting..:)

Tack
07-11-2014, 11:29 PM
I apologise for not having anything of substance to add to this thread aside from my gob-smacked admiration for the knowledge of so many here; as well as for the original find by Kevin! I have learned more about vintage ukes in this thread than I could have imagined.
Please keep us updated :D

coolkayaker1
07-12-2014, 03:49 AM
If you get a chance to, post up a picture with it. :cool:
There exist as many photos of Len and Stan as there are of unicorns, and far fewer than of Sasquatchs, Loch Ness monsters, UFOs and JD Salinger.

I think it would be difficult to ask the junk shop owner for the background of this ukulele without tipping him off that he gave away an instrument worth thousands. Besides, he's likely to only know his personal transaction-- bought it from a spinster from Tallahassee who only played it in church. If he knew more, he probably would have told the story when Kevin bought it.

This thread is so interesting that, when it finally draws to a close, Kevin might consider printing it out for posterity and saving it with the ukulele. Wouldn't it have been fun to read comments from forum participants way back when the mods to the uke were being made. Things like a poster named PipesnMuttonchops writing, "Go for it. Yank off the frets and throw on a new Regal extended fretboard. What do you have to lose...it's a cheap Hawaiian import made of sustainable Koa. Do it and who knows, you might be able to play like Eddie Van Halen!"

buc mcmaster
07-12-2014, 04:56 AM
Quite a restoration project on an old piece of ukulele history!

Spotted this on eBay...........is this of similar vintage?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-VINTAGE-UKE-MANUEL-NUNES-SOPRANO-UKULELE-Ukulelefriend-com-/231268126508?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35d8a78f2c

KevinV
07-12-2014, 05:51 AM
Quite a restoration project on an old piece of ukulele history!

Spotted this on eBay...........is this of similar vintage?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-VINTAGE-UKE-MANUEL-NUNES-SOPRANO-UKULELE-Ukulelefriend-com-/231268126508?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35d8a78f2c

Yes, that's from the same timeframe and is also a Lyon & Healy distributed model. It says to be in original condition so it doesn't suffer from the ills mine does.

From what I've read, the model you linked to is the standard model and mine is the deluxe. The inlaid rope binding around the body and soundhole are about the only differences I could gather. Although wood grade may also have something to do with it. If I remember correctly, there was another model farther up the food chain than the one that I have. It has the rope style inlay going down the center and sides of the fretboard as well. Although that may have been and M and Leonardo Nunes model that I saw with the extra inlay.

Skinny Money McGee
08-25-2014, 10:01 AM
Bump.....

Time for an update Kevin :D

KevinV
09-25-2014, 04:40 PM
Just got an update from Kilin; he says it's getting close to completion. Here are the photos he sent. Looks like he did a great job with the body repairs and refinish.

71245 71246

vanflynn
09-25-2014, 05:09 PM
So cool! Keep us posted.

KevinV
11-17-2014, 08:20 AM
I have received word from Kilin that the uke is finished. He'll be sending it back to me via 2-day in a Ko'olau hardshell case. I'm very excited to be seeing this now that it's restored. Here are the photos he sent.

72963 72964 72965 72966 72967

wayfarer75
11-17-2014, 08:21 AM
Oh, that's exciting! Do give us a report when you receive it!

KevinV
11-17-2014, 08:21 AM
More pics…

72968 72969 72970 72971 72972

KevinV
11-17-2014, 08:25 AM
Here is a copy of the report he sent…

"Hi Kevin,

Here is the completed Nunes. I have completed the restoration and I'm ready to ship it back to you.

Here's a list of everything I did:
1. Repaired numerous cracks on top and back of ukulele as well as replace and stabilize missing and damaged purfling.
2. Removed non original fingerboard and replaced with period specific bar frets.
3. Added period specific vintage friction tuning pegs.
4. Added a spirit varnish tinted to the same hue as the aged finish on the back, sides and neck.
5. Antiqued all repaired areas to look indistinguishable from the aged original areas.
6. Fabricated a Nunes bridge from a very old piece of matched Koa.
7. Fabricated a new nut, also from a very old piece of Koa.
8. Restrung with Aquila strings.

I had a couple of the top authorities on early Hawaiian made ukuleles here on Oahu take a look at it and neither of them caught that I had refinished the top so I think it's going to be pretty convincingly antiqued for most people. There is one of these Lyon & Healy Nunes on Ebay for close to 4k, so even with restoration costs you are doing good. Congrats on a stellar find, I'll have it boxed up by tomorrow at the latest.

Thanks, -KiLin Reece"

vanflynn
11-17-2014, 08:37 AM
Wowzer. got to love it!

This may be a long 2 days until it arrives!

Please take some higher resolution photos once you have some time.

Congrats on the find and having the restoration done right.

KevinV
11-17-2014, 08:41 AM
Kilin sent some nice high res pics, but they were auto resized when I uploaded them. Bummer.

Nickie
11-17-2014, 02:56 PM
Wow, that's cool. I saw a M. Nunes soprano today, it had an arched back, and was basically unrestored, but in excellent shape. He wanted a ridiculously low price for it, IMHO. I am fascinated by these old guys and thier history.

UkerDanno
11-17-2014, 03:38 PM
Wow, that thing's gorgeous! What a find!!! Hope it sounds just as amazing as it looks.

KevinV
11-18-2014, 05:32 PM
This may be a long 2 days until it arrives!


OK, the anticipation is starting to kick in. USPS tracking puts it here by 1500 tomorrow. The excitement builds.

vanflynn
11-18-2014, 05:51 PM
Hope you have the afternoon off!

At least you won't have to stare at the shipping box for 6 hrs until the gets to room temp like us winter dwellers do.

wayfarer75
11-18-2014, 06:21 PM
Well, I'm sure you aren't excited or anything... ;)

DownUpDave
11-18-2014, 06:30 PM
Hope you have the afternoon off!

At least you won't have to stare at the shipping box for 6 hrs until the gets to room temp like us winter dwellers do.

Man ain't that the truth. I am expecting one to arrive tomorrow or the next day. The temperature right now is minus stupid, ridiculous outside. Please remind me to only buy ukes in the summer time.

Kevin I am loving those pictures, makes me want a vintage uke.

Tigershark
11-19-2014, 03:18 PM
A very interesting discussion and a special ukulele, very worthy of restoration.

I wasn't able to see the before pictures, those attachments have disappeared. Could someone repost those? I am curious about the choice to refinish.

krstringrepair
12-08-2014, 07:12 PM
Hello All!

I apologize that it has taken me so long to add to this thread, the holidays are in full swing here on Oahu and the repair shop is quite busy. This Ukulele was a real pleasure to work on, historically very rare and with the questions surrounding the fingerboard possibly a landmark in early Hawaiian ukulele design. I want to share a series of photographs I took during the restoration process that I feel will interest vintage enthusiasts, and I have recieved permission from the owner to post these pics here.

I coincidentally recieved a Radio Tenor by Leonardo Nunes for a back replacement while the Lyon & Healy Nunes was in the shop and was happy to see them side by side on my workbench for several weeks. Here are some pics and feel free to ask questions, I will due my best to respond as soon as possible. Mahalo and Aloha, -KiLin Reece
73893

73894
This was a telling detail as to whether or not the fingerboard was original...
73895
A close examination of the finish around the fingerboard extension
73896
Finish had been brushed up onto the fingerboard and the finish on the fingerboard edges was indeed old and crackled.
73897
It became clear that what appeared to be a shim under the superficial fingerboard was definitely added after initial fret slots were cut, as they extended into the actual neck. It still remained a possibility in my mind that the superficial fingerboard, though increasingly unlikely, could have been added at the Nunes shop, perhaps as a special request by a mainland company such as L&H...

krstringrepair
12-08-2014, 07:38 PM
73898
A view of the bridge, clearly not original.

73899
Nunes elegant headstock decal with the Royal Hawaiian Seal.

73900
Close up of a rare collaboration...

73901
Father and Son reunited!

73902
Just as an aside, this is the new back that I made for the Leonardo Radio Tenor model. I found a similar piece of Koa-partially flat sawn, and added an antiqued varnish finish to match the patina on the rest of the uke. With a little time the color should darken match the rest of the uke and the work should be unnoticeable. This uke sounded fantastic by the way....

krstringrepair
12-08-2014, 07:47 PM
73903
I love the early look of bridge pins, bigger flatter and with a good sized piece of Pearl.

73904
close up of the initial antiquing process to the varnish.

73905
Wider view of the back....

73906
Definitely one of the coolest headstocks Ive ever seen!

krstringrepair
12-08-2014, 08:02 PM
73907
OK, so back to the L&H Nunes, having determined to my clients satisfaction that the uke was not in fact sent out with a superficial fingerboard, we decided to restore the uke to as original as possible. This ultimately would include adding bar frets, friction pegs, building a new bridge, repairing the cracks, and repairing the finish. The person that modified the uke by adding the fingerboard we would come to find out was talented and a bit sneaky as well...

73908
Here we can see how they scored the area under the fingerboard extension.

73907
And here, we have the evidence we were hoping for and a bit of a surprise. There is in fact no shim under the entire fingerboard, but rather two shims running along the edges of the fingerboard to cover up the original fret slots!

73909
Close up of nut area...

73910
Close up of cracks in top.

krstringrepair
12-08-2014, 08:13 PM
73911
We can see in this photograph how what appeared initially to be two separate cracks are in fact one very extensive long U shaped crack with the bottom of the 'U' running under the length of the bridge.

73912
This is a technique I learned from the great Frank Ford, using deionized water to clean years of grime, grease, sweat and dust out of cracks before regluing them. Takes quite a while but very worth it.

73913
Top plates seperated to prepare the inside surfaces for gluing in of cleats.

73914
Cleats glued in, top flat and structurally sound, now on to the fingerboard...or or should I say lack thereof....

krstringrepair
12-08-2014, 08:35 PM
73924
Here is the fingerboard after it had been cleaned and ready for patching the small areas of missing Koa in preparation for adding in bar frets.

73925
Im forever thankful to my former boss, John Kitakis (whom I bought my repair business from about 4 years ago) for keeping a huge stash of vintage parts and pieces of vintage ukuleles for moments just such as this. These are bar frets from an early Hawaiian ukulele that fit exactly the original slots of this fingerboard. These little things make repair people very happy.

73926
Close up of the neck body joint. This is the beginning stages of restoring the finish on the top of the uke.

73927
All the research I was able to do indicated that the pegs on these ukes were originally the white plastic variety available as an option from Nunes as wel as Kumalae. My client however chose to go with the more traditional wooden pegs. I chose this set which are also period specific, though of a slightly more refined quality that commonly found on Nunes ukes. My client wanted to have a fully functional instrument after his considerable investment and tuneability is key to that end.

krstringrepair
12-08-2014, 08:50 PM
73919
Here is the top with the finish touched up, and a repro bridge made from an old piece of Koa, with a similarly antiqued varnish finish.

73920
This is the top a bit closer.

73921
This is the reproduction bridge I made ever so slightly oversized to cover the holes drilled by someone previously to hold on the non original bridge.

73922
Back by the Ko'olaus after all these years. This is a landscape of windward Oahu, painted in the early 20's....

73923
Soaking up some good Hawaiian sun before the long ride back to the east coast of the Mainland.

Thanks again for trusting me with the priveledge of restoring this little guy, it was my pleasure.


Aloha, -KiLin Reece

www.krstrings.com

coolkayaker1
12-08-2014, 10:51 PM
KiLlin, you knocked my socks off!

RAB11
12-08-2014, 10:52 PM
Awesome set of posts KiLin. Absolutely fascinating read.

vanflynn
12-09-2014, 04:01 AM
Awesome job on that uke. Thanks for saving a bit of history.

Thanks for the pic

sam13
12-11-2014, 12:23 PM
Wow Kilin ... that was an awesome restoration job ... well, done!

wayfarer75
12-12-2014, 02:55 AM
That is a gorgeous uke; I'm so glad it got rescued!