Another restoration thread, or, Old Uke Day?

doctorapatite

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I always thought it would be fun to someday own a vintage ukulele, a really cool old one that could be played but was also just awesome from a historical perspective. So I've been keeping my eye out for a while on various auction sites (which is easy because I already do that for my other hobby of collecting mid century modern glassware). But it's hard to trust listings with badly photographed instruments where you can't tell if its koa or cardboard. And in any case I always get outbid, usually by many hundreds of dollars. However, persistence and luck have paid off and I am now the proud owner of this soprano, unknown age or maker:
Untitled 9.jpgIMG_6744 copy.jpg
I don't think the seller did themselves any favors with the lighting of their photo (upper left). Even a quick wipe with a damp cloth and a bit of sunlight makes it look like a different instrument.

This is what it looks like in full sunlight, again just gently wiped off. Note the neck separation and deep scratches, but also the flame, which is like nothing I've ever seen in person. Now I understand why they call it "flame". I get it.
IMG_6737 copy.jpgIMG_6741 copy.jpg
It's definitely not cardboard.

There's daylight between the neck and body so that will have to be addressed, and the bridge looks less solid than I'd like but I'm not a professional, so I can't say for sure that there aren't other issues that I have missed. I have not tried to string it for fear of doing some serious damage. But I've been tempted to put a low-tension set on there just to let it sing a little. Just a whisper.

My goal is to get a full structural and cosmetic restoration, to whatever extent is possible. I've reached out to Jake Wildwood but I haven't gotten a response, and it is my understanding that he is very busy in any case. I am open to recommendations, including self-recommendations but obviously those are worth more when backed up by client recommendations.

Anyway, I thought people might be interested in seeing the before and after. I'll update this thread when I find a luthier to work on it and then as anything else interesting happens.
 
I always thought it would be fun to someday own a vintage ukulele, a really cool old one that could be played but was also just awesome from a historical perspective. So I've been keeping my eye out for a while on various auction sites (which is easy because I already do that for my other hobby of collecting mid century modern glassware). But it's hard to trust listings with badly photographed instruments where you can't tell if its koa or cardboard. And in any case I always get outbid, usually by many hundreds of dollars. However, persistence and luck have paid off and I am now the proud owner of this soprano, unknown age or maker:
View attachment 166915View attachment 166902
I don't think the seller did themselves any favors with the lighting of their photo (upper left). Even a quick wipe with a damp cloth and a bit of sunlight makes it look like a different instrument.

This is what it looks like in full sunlight, again just gently wiped off. Note the neck separation and deep scratches, but also the flame, which is like nothing I've ever seen in person. Now I understand why they call it "flame". I get it.
View attachment 166903View attachment 166904
It's definitely not cardboard.

There's daylight between the neck and body so that will have to be addressed, and the bridge looks less solid than I'd like but I'm not a professional, so I can't say for sure that there aren't other issues that I have missed. I have not tried to string it for fear of doing some serious damage. But I've been tempted to put a low-tension set on there just to let it sing a little. Just a whisper.

My goal is to get a full structural and cosmetic restoration, to whatever extent is possible. I've reached out to Jake Wildwood but I haven't gotten a response, and it is my understanding that he is very busy in any case. I am open to recommendations, including self-recommendations but obviously those are worth more when backed up by client recommendations.

Anyway, I thought people might be interested in seeing the before and after. I'll update this thread when I find a luthier to work on it and then as anything else interesting happens.
Definitely following this!
 
You forgot to tell us what you paid for it!!

You might not need to do anything to it, and who would want some old beat up uke anyway? Totally non-playable (it doesn't have any strings).

I'll give you a chance to get your money back by selling it to me directly.
 
There's been a delay in getting it restored as I got COVID, then was swamped with work, then went on vacation, then was swamped again at work. I need to get the process re-started but I just haven't had time to follow up on my initial text messages to Jake Wildwood (which I'm guessing he did not receive).

I didn't admit to how much I paid for it because I didn't want to get into a conversation about how much I overpaid. But since you asked and I've certainly done much more foolish things in my life, I'll just tell you that I paid $189 including tax and shipping.

Between the initial cost and the restoration cost, I'm pretty sure that this is going to be a "I did it for the love, not for the money" kind of situation. But I do love it, so as long as I have the money, it will be okay. And if the restoration proves to be too expensive, I'll just sit on it until I can afford it.
 
Gorgeous wood!
 
Also . . . I may have accidentally bought another vintage uke . . . so now I have to convince whoever restores this one to work on the little brother as well.


I swear it was an accident! It was just a placeholder bid of $10, it wasn't supposed to win. Even a totally shattered vintage koa ukulele sells for more than $10. Normally.

Anyway, now I have to try to rescue this one too. It is really pretty wood, I need to get some better photos.
 
There's been a delay in getting it restored as I got COVID, then was swamped with work, then went on vacation, then was swamped again at work. I need to get the process re-started but I just haven't had time to follow up on my initial text messages to Jake Wildwood (which I'm guessing he did not receive).

I didn't admit to how much I paid for it because I didn't want to get into a conversation about how much I overpaid. But since you asked and I've certainly done much more foolish things in my life, I'll just tell you that I paid $189 including tax and shipping.

Between the initial cost and the restoration cost, I'm pretty sure that this is going to be a "I did it for the love, not for the money" kind of situation. But I do love it, so as long as I have the money, it will be okay. And if the restoration proves to be too expensive, I'll just sit on it until I can afford it.
I also just bought a vintage ukulele online that’ll need work. I’m going to try to clean it up myself, but if it needs more work than I can manage, I’m going to ask a local luthier to check it out.
Last fall, I bought a restored uke from Aaron Keim. I like being part of saving salvaged stuff from going to waste, and this was my first experience holding and playing a 90 year old instrument. Think of what it could tell you if it could talk! I’m hooked!
 
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