Weissenborn Question

EvilRobot

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Greetings, new to the forum. Not a ukulele owner/player but have a neighbor out here in rural Arizona who was showing me this Weissenborn ukulele that belonged to her father. He played around SoCal in the 20s and 30s. He went by either Clyde Dawson or Clyde Eoff.

Anyways, beautiful instrument. Appears to be koa back and sides and spruce top. Beautiful rope purfling on the body, soundhole and headstock. Believe the vintage is around 1924. Top inlays are really interesting. Don't see any major cracks or structural issues, no bellying on the soundboard.

Was just hoping to get some info. for my neighbor. She is 87 and has had this in her closet for years.

Appreciate any insights. VR

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Ms Bean

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Welcome to UU, EvilRobot!
Unfortunately I can't be of any help re your neighbour's instrument, but I hope there will be other members who can!
 

Futurethink

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Hers has four strings, but I usually hear them referred to as slide guitars or as lap steels instead of as ’ukuleles.
Is there a label in the soundhole that specifies the year of manufacture? Antebellum instruments may have some archival photos which can help identify what you’re looking at. If you decide to contact him directly you can expect a delay—he’s recently posted a notice of being overwhelmed.
https://jakewildwood.blogspot.com/search?q=Weissenborn

I’ve always been fascinated by the extension of the soundbox up along the neck. What you show does not have a boxed neck, so perhaps it is an ‘ukulele after all.

Wikipedia says the originals are rare and sought after. This page describes different models and what they cost when new: https://www.weissenborns.com/pages/weissenborn-style-guide

That page, however, is from a company that is still making Weissenborn-style instruments, and they are not cheap. Other companies are also making similar instruments for much less: https://www.musiciansfriend.com/folk-traditional-instruments/gold-tone-sm-weissenborn-hawaiian-style-left-handed-slide-guitar/l51614000001000?cntry=us&source=3WWRWXMP&source=3WWRWXMP&msclkid=82a36918faa0102b0f960b859c4cbb12&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=**LP - Shop - Folk & Traditional Instruments - Stringed - Lap Steels&utm_term=4578229007826134&utm_content=L51614000001000 | Gold Tone SM-Weissenborn Hawaiian-Style Left-Handed Slide Guitar Solid Mahogany Top | $675
 

jrdavies

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A while ago I bought a book, "From Harp Guitars to the New Hawaiian Family", by George T. Noe and Daniel L. Most. The book covers the evolution of Hawaiian acoustic guitars. Here is a link to a review of the book.

One chapter covers Weissenborn guitars. There are quite a few pictures but nothing like the instrument pictured above. In 1923 Weissenborn switched from paper labels to a brand on the inside of the guitar. There are a couple of pictures of ukuleles but they all look like a normal ukulele. It looks like the instrument above has a solid square neck. The book mentions that the most of lap style instruments had hollow necks. The exceptions were earlier prototypes that are closer to designs by other luthiers.

You should see if you can track down the authors. The book was published by Noe Enterprises in Everett, WA. Other places that might be able to provide more information would be https://ukulelefriend.com/ in Honolulu, they have a bunch of older instruments on their web site. Or maybe http://www.johnwtroutman.com/, who wrote a book on the history of Hawaiian Guitar Kika Kila. There are a few slide guitar forums and it might posting something there.

I have seen old pictures of guitar/mandolin/ukulele orchestras where all the players have different sized instruments. Perhaps this instrument is from a Hawaiian Guitar orchestra.

Good luck with the search.
 

EvilRobot

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It has nylon/gut strings and a rounded squarish neck. She has pictures of her dad playing it and it is normal uke posture. I will look inside the sound hole.

Thanks for the interest and information!

VR
 

EvilRobot

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got some additional info/measurements. it is a ukulele, not a lap guitar. here are the numbers:

scale: 17 1/2"
nut: 1 3/8"
lower bout: 7 1/2"
upper bout: 5 1/2"
body depth: 2 1/4" - 2 1/2"
overall: 27"

picture of the neck and her dad with the ukulele in the 20s:
 

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jrdavies

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I stumbled across this on Reverb this evening


The description contains a comment about someone on the internet tracking Weissenborn Ukes. A little search turned up this post on the UMGF thread, https://umgf.com/weissenborn-ukulele-t139188.html. Only 36 at the time of the post in 2012. You might try contacting Jeff Mercer on the umgf.com to see if he has any info. Looks like he is still active.

It could be that Weissenborn didn't make many Ukes. If the person in the photo was based in LA it could be that he bought the uke directly from Weissenborn. If you know his name you might try researching him as it might lead you to more info on his ukulele.

Along the way I found a couple of other posts. One from Lardy's Ukulele database, https://sites.google.com/site/ukulelemakers/w/weissenborn-hermann. The other was from here, https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/index.php?threads/weissenborn-ukulele-c1920s.118551/. It might be worth searching the forum to see there is any useful info.

Good luck with your search! And please let us know what you find out.
 

donboody

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got some additional info/measurements. it is a ukulele, not a lap guitar. here are the numbers:

scale: 17 1/2"
nut: 1 3/8"
lower bout: 7 1/2"
upper bout: 5 1/2"
body depth: 2 1/4" - 2 1/2"
overall: 27"

picture of the neck and her dad with the ukulele in the 20s:
I love that suit please standby for my New Suit Day post
 

Ziret

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got some additional info/measurements. it is a ukulele, not a lap guitar. here are the numbers:

scale: 17 1/2"
nut: 1 3/8"
lower bout: 7 1/2"
upper bout: 5 1/2"
body depth: 2 1/4" - 2 1/2"
overall: 27"

picture of the neck and her dad with the ukulele in the 20s:
Carole’s dad is a snappy dresser!
 

ukulelekarcsi

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I doubt that it's a Weissenborn, or a Knutsen for that matter, and presume it's a luthier one-off.

Knutsen pioneered this shape on guitars, Weissenborn popularised them (with the short, rounded neck being called the 'Kona' model) but neither ever used them on ukuleles. Their ukuleles were either 8-shaped, or had the famous extra 'harp' arm. Also, the reversed slipper headstock is not like anything Weissenborn built - Knutsen did sometimes use slipper headstocks, but not reversed ones, and again only on guitars.

It's still a very cool guitar, and probably one that sounds and plays well, judging by Carole's dad's concentration.
 

Jerryc41

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Greetings, new to the forum. Not a ukulele owner/player but have a neighbor out here in rural Arizona who was showing me this Weissenborn ukulele that belonged to her father. He played around SoCal in the 20s and 30s. He went by either Clyde Dawson or Clyde Eoff.

Anyways, beautiful instrument. Appears to be koa back and sides and spruce top. Beautiful rope purfling on the body, soundhole and headstock. Believe the vintage is around 1924. Top inlays are really interesting. Don't see any major cracks or structural issues, no bellying on the soundboard.

Was just hoping to get some info. for my neighbor. She is 87 and has had this in her closet for years.

Appreciate any insights. VR

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If no one posted this link yet, here it is.