Do ukuleles have a “pre-war Gibson” analog like banjos do?

eclecticbanjo

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Coming from the banjo world, everyone (and especialy the old timers) saw pre-WW2 Gibson brand banjos as the crème of the crop. Other top brands might’ve included Huber, Stelling, Nechville, etc., in which you would be recognized with head nods at the very least.

Are there makes/brands like that in the ukulele world?
 
I think vintage Martin ukuleles are that analog in general. More desirable seem to be the teens-20's ones. Koa usually command higher prices with the 5K being the "holy grail."

Certain Hawaiian brands are also well regarded, though I'm not up on the vintage Hawaiian scene as much. I think vintage Kamaka are probably a good analog. Modern "K" brands like Kamaka, Kanilae (sp?), and KoAloha are probably the modern equivalent.
 
For wooden ukes, definitely the upper range of Martin: style 2, 3, and style 5. Gibsons are collectable but apparently slightly uneven soundwise. Very early Hawaiian instruments are collectable but more for historical interest than playability.

For banjo ukes, vintage Ludwig, Gibson (UB-2 and up) and pre-war Abbott Monarch are highly sought after.
 
I thought the sound would be in the head. I now wonder which components of a banjo make a meaningful difference, other than neck feel.

Are pre-war banjo heads a thing?
 
I thought the sound would be in the head. I now wonder which components of a banjo make a meaningful difference, other than neck feel.

Are pre-war banjo heads a thing?
I know next to nothing about banjos, but I've read that the tone ring style and material have an impact on the sound.
 
I thought the sound would be in the head. I now wonder which components of a banjo make a meaningful difference, other than neck feel.

Are pre-war banjo heads a thing?
Depends which vintage banjo player you ask, answers ranging from the neck wood and tone ring to every nut and bolt utilized. I personally think the most sound differentiation is derived from the things that can be controlled the most: bridge position, strings used, head type, action, where the picking hand is placed on the head, and (probably most importantly) the ear of the banjo player.

Thanks for the answers on the ukulele front.
 
Some banjos and banjo ukes have a tone ring, some don't. I think it mainly gives more sustain.

All had calfskin heads until (I think the early Fifties ?) when Mylar first appeared, thanks to WW2 technology. There are dozens of variations. This is just a basic list:

You can get them in different thicknesses. You can get them clear, foggy, tinted colors and black. They come with a frosted white coating on the top, underneath, or both. You can get a flat black coating. FWIW, the top frosted is the most common.

Finally, there is a head made from a different mix of Mylar that looks like calfskin, a pale splotchy gray. Remo (the main maker) calls it Fiberskyn. It's claimed to come closest to the skin sound.

I don't have a lot of experience, a few years with tenor banjo and I partially restored two. What I've heard, I don't notice any real difference except between a bare head and coated. I don't feel there is much difference in where the coating is. My Gold Tone banjo uke came with bottom frosted. I like it because the coating won't get scratched out of harm's way.

Lastly, I believe most players would say the bridge material and design, the head tension, then the strings, most affect the sound. Head tension should be correct first ( several opinions ), then the bridge. They come in several heights, 5/8" works on my GT to give me 1/8 at the 12th fret. If that gets lower, my head has stretched and needs to be brought back to that 1/8 inch. Heads stretch just like strings.
 
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