c.1950s Lyra Baritone Ukulele

Here's a recently-sold West German baritone uke probably from the late '50s or early '60s. It's built of what looks like very light-colored mahogany, with a rosewood bridge, and maple neck and fretboard. All solid woods, too. The tone is superior -- I mean, surreal for a baritone uke -- light, airy, crisp, warm, woody, with a perfect balance between strings. I set it up with a re-entrant DGBE set and it sounded -- perfect! There were a few repairs that were needed: a previously-repaired crack on the back needed to be re-repaired, a few braces needed gluing, and a few back/side separations needed gluing.

Body detail.

Classical-style bridge: here I cheated by knotting the strings uke style, however. The nut is some sort of hard plastic.

Bound soundhole. Inside you can see a hair of the West Germany stamp (it's faded).

After my usual cleaning and fret polishing and conditioning, this fretboard feels wonderful. The dots are just painted silver, but they do lend a period feel.

Typical headstock for the period. Shallow crown shape.

Here you can see how the original finish has held up -- quite well -- and surprisingly vibrant after restoration.

Back grain is lovely.

Again -- a sort of sandy-blonde beauty!

Tuners are fancy replacements.

Neck join's not going anywhere.


Basically -- if you're looking for a baritone that sounds excellent, and is markedly better than the usual Harmony-built fare, find yourself one of these! I'm sorry I sold it!


HumbleUker said…

I was just doing a bit of Baritone research. That big beautiful blonde Lyra was amazing. Your doing amazang work on your instruments - I like the photos.

Thanks, Jeff aka HumbleUker
Bob in NM said…
I see it is for sale on Craigslist in San Francisco (9/5/09). Description says: "Restored with love and care by old luthier in vermont". You don't look that old to me...
Anonymous said…
Hi Jake,
Well, I am now the proud owner of the Lyra Baritone and, I must say, it is gorgeous. It is still strung the way that you described and it sounds beautiful. About a month ago, I acquired an unmarked blonde wood soprano stamped "Made in Western Germany' inside the soundhole. It had no other markings. As it turns out, it is a perfect match to the Lyra and now I own a Soprano and a Baritone Lyra. Thanks for doing such a great job with the restoration.
Columbus, Ohio
Unknown said…
Well mine is still "QUITE" ragged around all edges...
and with a set of Tenor strings
But it's on YOU TUBE
"Loving Repair"
Unknown said…
These show up on ebay fairly often. Looks like they are made by Br√ľko but un-labeled. Usually have "Made in Western Germany " below sound hole.Excellent bargain.
I just found one at a thrift shop and i am so excited to have found this page to learn more about it.Mine needs repair but I hope it's worth using