c.2005 Recording King Resonator Ukulele

So, if yesterday was "real National uke" day here at the shop, here's "faux National uke" day! This is a 2000s, used, Chinese-made Recording King brand (the headstock badge fell off) reso uke with a plated (brass, I believe?) body. Compared to the "real deal" the body is larger and wider in the upper bout, the scale is shorter, the neck is a light-grade mahogany instead of hard maple, and the scale is 5/8" shorter. This adds up to a quieter (but still much louder than most wood ukes), warmer, and sweeter-sounding instrument but not one that has the spank, breathy fingerpicking clarity and raw power of a National.

It's a handsome instrument, essentially brand new, and very clean. There might be a couple spots of tarnish but a simple wipe-down after taking this out of storage brought it right back to painfully-gleaming. Being an Asian-made mass-market instrument, the "skimp" to lower the price is in the usual area: setup and finish.

The frets were leveled and dressed at the factory, it seems, but not beatifully. The nut was too high and the cone wasn't seated nicely and the biscuit's bridge had slots that led to odd rattles. After a little cleaning, adjustment of the cone, nut, and saddle, this uke plays very well and has a much better sound.

The sort of shell-looking pearloid looks pretty cute. The nut is plastic.

Rosewood fretboard, real pearl dots, and ivoroid binding (which is a nice touch, and echoes old Nat'ls).

I strung this with Aquila Nylguts and the extra tension from those alone tamed some of the cone's issues. I'd love to hear this with an extra-hard tension set of strings.

Extra-gloss finish on the neck. This has that usual "dipped" Asian-made look but at leas the 'hog is pretty! The tuners are friction types and are a little cheesy with their stark white buttons, but work just fine.

Overall: a good bang for buck instrument and gig-ready to sit in at jam sessions and band work.

This uke was originally part of the Skanktone Guitars collection. Skanktone was run by Joe Schenkman of right-here-in-Rochester, Vermont, and specialized in fun, funky, wonky, and wild old guitars (among other things). He amassed a very cool personal collection that's been off-and-on stored for a number of years and now a fair number of the quirky and fun vintage items are being sold through Antebellum. Thanks for sharing the toys, Joe!