c.1925 Unmarked Concert Banjo Ukulele

This is a customer's instrument in for a setup which it needed pretty badly -- the nut slots were all cut too high, the action ran about 1/4" at the 12th fret, the head was quite slack, and the neck was loose to the pot. Anyhow, that's typical banjo stuff for older instruments that haven't been tweaked. It's now a nice little player with that snappy and loud tone I expect from a longer-scale, larger-head (this one is 8" vs the normal 7" rims) banjo uke. The frets really should be dressed at some point (they're a bit "square" on top) but at least they're level.

It's unmarked as well but I have a gut feeling that based on the heel cut and style of the headstock cut that these may have been made by Regal in Chicago. One sees similar instruments under various brands including Lyon & Healy and other mailorder catalog marks.

I don't think the skin head is original but everything else but the strings is.

As usual for this grade of banjo, while the primary wood is nice (in this case mahogany neck, rim, and resonator), the fretboard and headstock veneer is ebonized or dyed pearwood or maple rather than true rosewood or ebony.

The pearl inlay is pretty nice, though.

The neck has an unusually narrow width at the nut which suggests this was made with fast playing up the neck in mind. I'm sure that neck could also handle steel strings which may have been intended when it was built: at the time there were a number of banjo-uke steel-string sets that seem to have been used on about half of the banjo ukes I've worked on.

The mahogany bolt-on resonator definitely "loudens" the instrument up. It's also got some colorful decals pasted to it.

Ivoroid-buttoned friction pegs.


kistenjc said…
So would any changes be needed to put steel strings back on? What size strings would you recommend?