Vintage Baritones, Favilla vs Harmany/Silvertone vs Vega/Auther Godfrey

Bibs

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Are the differences between them really significant or more a matter of personal preference and/or collectability? I did listen to one video where the Favilla seemed to have a bit more bass than the others [maybe strings]. I have a Pono cedar/rosewood PC as my reference. I like the more bass [mellow] sound more than the treble [bright] sound. Then there's the price difference, collectable/popularity status.
My biggest hurdle is I don't really hear much difference between any similar instruments, be they mountain dulcimers, autoharps, or ukes ! Probable because I have significant hearing loss and my hearing aids don't completely correct it.
I'll probably end up with a Harmony since the are pretty available at a reasonable [low] price.
UAS at it's finest [I just bought a Kala ebony U-bass]!!!
 
I believe the Favilla baritone body is deeper than most others. This also helps give it the deeper tone.
 
the Favilla body is very close in size to the Harmony. It's a large baritone. It has a wider nut. the side dote is at the 9th fret on the Favilla and 10th on the Chicago builds. IMHO a good, sound Favilla is almost unbeatable when it comes to value with tone, voice, and sustain, very hard to beat. No Martin on the planet can beat a Favilla for volume and clarity of voice. The Harmonys are ok but the sound is a little muddy when compaired to a Favilla. Neither will fit in a Crossrock case but there are many other options.
 
the Favilla body is very close in size to the Harmony. It's a large baritone. It has a wider nut. the side dote is at the 9th fret on the Favilla and 10th on the Chicago builds. IMHO a good, sound Favilla is almost unbeatable when it comes to value with tone, voice, and sustain, very hard to beat. No Martin on the planet can beat a Favilla for volume and clarity of voice. The Harmonys are ok but the sound is a little muddy when compaired to a Favilla. Neither will fit in a Crossrock case but there are many other options.
I agree with your assessment regarding the Harmony and Favilla, and I haven't played a Martin, so I must remain silent in that regard. That said, I trust your voice when it comes to baritones.....I've benefitted from your experience. I know you've played a "few."

What hard case options do you know of for a Favilla? I am disappointed to learn it won't fit in a Crossrock . . .
 
to get a Harmony or Favilla or baritone of equal body dept in a Crossrock fiberglass case, you need to cut padding...probably not worth it. A Guardian vintage works well. I'm a fan of the Martin B-51 too. It's just not as loud as a Favilla...on the plus side, maybe a little more durable. the Favilla gets all that volume with very thin wood. The 9th fret side dot drives me nuts and I usually drill it out using 3/32 mahogany and relocate one to the 10th.
 
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Here's another helpful clip, in case you didn't see it:

Yours is the one I found the Favilla had the bass sound I liked.
According to this video the Harmony has the narrowest nut string spacing and the Favilla the widest. I prefer the wider spacing so that alone pretty much offsets the low price for me.
Is a high action common for these vintage ukes, especially Favillas? And can the action be lowered easily if necessary?
The Arthur Godfrey doesn't sound too bad either and it's string spacing is just a little closer than the Favilla.
I guess it's keep on saving until....
Thanks for all the input folks, I really appreciate it.
 
Others have more experience at this than me and may have a different opinion, but I’ve found most vintage ukes to need some tweaking. That is unless you are fortunate enough (as I was) to find one that was already has been set up professionally. Of course, the same may well be said about all ukes! Ha!

In my case, my Favilla was perfectly set up by Jake Wildwood for the strings to be only 1/16th at the 12th fret. That’s perfect for my style of play. My old Conrad on the other hand, had strings way high. I lowered them myself but am not able to get them down to my preferred height without suffering from string buzz. As I only paid $35 for the uke, I’m fine with that.

Good luck with your quest.
 
Great comparison👍
I like the Favilla the best, but please! Get those top cracks taken care of!
Cheers!
 
I agree . . . I prefer the Favilla and I do hope he's repaired the cracks.
 
I agree . . . I prefer the Favilla and I do hope he's repaired the cracks.
I've owned a vintage Martin (sold it and kept my Favilla instead), a few Harmonys, a Vega Arthur Godfrey Solo Lute, and an Airline, which I believe was made by Regal. That's my experience with vintage baritones. I liked the sound, build quality, ,and playability of the Favilla best. The Martin was nice, but I didn't like the slim neck. The Airline (spruce top, mahogany back and sides) would be the one I'd rate right below the Favilla. Harmony baritones are OK, but just don't knock my socks off. I tried very hard to love the Arthur Godfrey Solo Lute, but never liked the feel of it. It just seemed "heavy". Condition-wise, all of these were (or are) rated excellent.

So that's been my experience with vintage baritones, for what it's worth. Of course, everybody might have a different take, based on their subjective criteria. But I would rate the Favilla as the best vintage baritone of all the aforementioned brands. That's just my two cents. Thanks.
 
I have a 40's Vega baritone, kind of a poor person Arthur Godfrey. It is deep and rich in tone.
 
...IMHO a good, sound Favilla is almost unbeatable when it comes to value with tone, voice, and sustain, very hard to beat. No Martin on the planet can beat a Favilla for volume and clarity of voice....

Wow, quite a testamonial! Hope I get to try one someday!
 
Anybody have Beloff's history of the ukulele? Gives a fair amount of history and photos of vintage ukes. Seems to be the only book that takes a good try at it.

Jim Tranquada's "Ukulele a history" is 98% text and 90% of that is the social conditions, economy, and weather affecting the uke's growing popularity. Not much on the ukes themselves. Lots of newspaper accounts of how various people reacted to the ukulele. On the line of, "Mrs. Longnose of Snobville found "the gentle sound of the tiny guitars very soothing' ". Interesting in places, but I was glad I got a cheaper used copy.
 
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I agree with your assessment regarding the Harmony and Favilla, and I haven't played a Martin, so I must remain silent in that regard. That said, I trust your voice when it comes to baritones.....I've benefitted from your experience. I know you've played a "few."

What hard case options do you know of for a Favilla? I am disappointed to learn it won't fit in a Crossrock . . .
I have a 50's Favilla that slips snugly into a Guardian case
 
I have a 50's Favilla that slips snugly into a Guardian case
Good to know . . . the Favilla was acquired by me only recently. It has managed well inside a molded styrofoam-ish case. Normally, I have my ukes on display on the wall. As I'm in the NW, humidity is not a factor. That said, I will not display the Favilla due to its age, but keep it in a case with a humidifier. However, I may invest in a hardshell case going forward as I think it will do a better job protecting it than a zippered semi-rigid case.
 
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