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Thread: Vintage Supertone : Restore or Wall Hanger?

  1. #1
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    Default Vintage Supertone : Restore or Wall Hanger?



    Ok, here's the deal. I recently got this vintage ukulele off Ebay. It's got some problems (including a few not in the listing...), but I only have about seventy bucks into it all told. I maybe should have sent it back, but my job was crazy this week and I think I'm past that window of opportunity.

    The question now is whether or not it's worth my time, effort and cash to restore this beast to playability.

    The good stuff is that it seems to be Koa.
    It's super light and could be punchy maybe. when it plays.
    It seems to be very vintage 20's with a narrow waist and a three piece neck and inlaid rosette that appeal to my aesthetic sense.
    It was also pretty cheap considering and it would be so sweet to be able to rescue a nice instrument from the junk pile.

    Now the bad stuff.
    Numerous cracks that seem pretty tight, but worry me a bit as far as someone having to take the soundboard off if required.
    The fifth fret is a cruddy thin replacement.
    The nut is a replacement & too wide.
    And biggest of all, the action gets higher and higher along the neck which sets the intonation off by half by the fifth fret. It's about an eighth of an inch at 12th fret. (Reset the neck? a lower bridge? Voodoo sacrifice with a live chicken? I'm not sure how that works. Can someone more uke repair knowledgeable explain?)

    It's definitely not even remotely playable right now. It's like every string playing at the wrong warped speed all the time.

    I've got a few options as far as local luthiers go, but I have no clue as to how much it would take to get it up and running again. I think in some ways restoration depends on what the value of the instrument might be restored versus the cost of getting it there. I mean, it just doesn't make sense to put a couple hundred bucks into restoring a $150 ukulele but I might be more inclined at a break even situation though.

    Or I can just and hang it on the wall and consider it a lesson learned.

    Anybody up on vintage ukuleles and repair techniques?

  2. #2

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    Sorry that I can't help you but is this from that 'moreukes' guy on ebay?

  3. #3
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    No. An entirely different random Ebay guy (who couldn't even spell soprano.) I took a chance and came up a bit short.

    But as far as I've seen moreukes' been auctioning off some quality stuff. He seems to have been pretty savvy about what he bought and his feedback's been good.

    I just wish I had the folding money to spend on a few choice items he's offered.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanark View Post
    No. An entirely different random Ebay guy (who couldn't even spell soprano.) I took a chance and came up a bit short.

    But as far as I've seen moreukes' been auctioning off some quality stuff. He seems to have been pretty savvy about what he bought and his feedback's been good.

    I just wish I had the folding money to spend on a few choice items he's offered.
    If you look at the most recent feedback, he seems to be getting more and more negatives. Maybe he ran out of the best of his collection, and is trying to clear out the dregs now?

  5. #5
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    that's too bad about moreukes.

    But more about this Ukulele. (he says to gently nudge the conversation back on topic...)

    Neck is straight. Action and intonation are waaaay off.

    Anybody deal with older instruments around here?

  6. #6
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    I don't know too much about old ukuleles, but I've had problems with my violin going a semi tone sharp up the neck. I think my bridge had taken a knock somehow, so I righted it. But my E string had problems where it'd go flat anywhere above a perfect fifth. Problem was fixed with a new string. Dunno how that fixed it, but apparently did. :3

    PM Nukedoc I think he knows stuff about this.

    (my band, not something dirty)

  7. #7
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    I say, go for it. Do it yourself. You don't have to fix it all in one fell swoop. Take your time. If you put in $200 bucks or so, so what? Over a long period of time, it doesn't impact your wallet so much.

    Besides, everything that you learn from fixing it is money well spent.

  8. #8

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    Lanark you've got a beauty there. Will it be worth what you put into it come re-sale time? Probably not. But as far as having a sweet vintage plunker it can't be beat. I restored an old no-name mahogony thats absolutley priceless to me. The necks on those are simply plugged on with a centered dowel. Give it a good yank to pull the kneck away from the body. If it gives or wiggles, (and it very likley will) theres your intonation problem. A good re-attachment with new fret wire and nut and saddle, and she's a gem!

  9. #9
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    I have to be kind of practical about this.

    Extra money spent on fixing this ukulele is money that I could be putting towards a really nice vintage Kumalae or Martin (or even a brand new ukulele) that's going to play sweetly from the get go. So really putting any more into it beyond it's actual value seems kind of dumb to me like tricking out a Yugo or something. It seems like it's only worth a $100 or so anyway..

    Plus I really don't have the skills or tools to do repair work myself. I'm a bit ham fisted (There's tab of the back that extends over the heel so yanking the neck isn't going to work.) and I'd be afraid I'd end up doing more damage than good. If I just hang it on the wall it's only going to get dusty.

    My lovely wife's Boss has a neighbor who builds ukuleles so the current plan is to see if he'd want to have a look at it. (I'm also curious to see what he's been building) So really its fate as yet remains to be seen.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanark View Post
    I have to be kind of practical about this.

    Plus I really don't have the skills or tools to do repair work myself. I'm a bit ham fisted (There's tab of the back that extends over the heel so yanking the neck isn't going to work.) and I'd be afraid I'd end up doing more damage than good. If I just hang it on the wall it's only going to get dusty.

    My lovely wife's Boss has a neighbor who builds ukuleles so the current plan is to see if he'd want to have a look at it. (I'm also curious to see what he's been building) So really its fate as yet remains to be seen.
    No skills? For me, I'd save my money.

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