c.1925 American Conservatory & c.1925 Slingerland Banjo Ukuleles

A two-for-one today! On the left is the Lyon & Healy-built American Conservatory banjo uke, with its 8" pot and concert (15") scale length, and on the right is a soprano scale length Slingerland-built (but unmarked) banjo uke. They share similar construction, but are built by entirely different firms, and when it comes down to playability, feel, and tone, they're miles apart, but both great players with great sound.

From the back.

Ah, yes, the elusive 1920s "concert scale" banjo uke: sought after because of its larger head, roomier fretboard, and more "strident" sound -- due to the fact that because of thicker strings and a longer scale, it puts more tension on the head, giving it a very active, smooth, and responsive tone. It's essentially like playing your concert uke, but banjo-ized.

Headstock. This is the typical Lyon & Healy "shield" headstock shape, and it can be seen on a lot of period Washburn ukes, too.

MOP dots.

I used to own a much fancier version, also American Conservatory brand, of this model banjo uke. My old one was made of walnut all over with marquetry inlay in the rim, super-clean hardware, a small metal resonator backplate, an ebony fretboard, and in general a "cut above" look. This one is like the "player's" version, stripped down and simple but with all the excellent qualities of tone, feel, and playability that the other had. The bottom line? Love it.

..and it's got a way-cool head, too, signed by the owner's compatriots.

...and not only on the top, on the back, too!

The longer scale and bigger pot give this banjo uke an elegant look with a bit more "balance" in terms of weight than you'd expect with most thicker-rimmed banjo ukes. At the same time, L&H managed to make it weigh slightly less than the Slingerland you'll see below in this post.

Original bakelite-buttoned L&H tuners.

Rim back.

...more signatures.

Simple tailpiece.


And now for the Slingerland uke...

This is a very friendly-looking and feeling banjo uke, with a poppy, direct tone, that feels great for clawhammer and old-time tunes.

Fretboard and headstock veneer are some sort of... mahogany? Perhaps? Not really sure.

MOP dots, lightly used frets.

Brand new thick head gives the uke an overall warmer tone than if it had a thin, excessively-responsive one.

New Grover bridge which I've recut.



Another simple, practical tailpiece.