c.1930 Gibson U-1 Soprano Ukulele

This wonderful little style U-1 uke came by way of some "horse trading" with a fellow musician. Apparently it was picked up from Elderly (probably on consignment?) fairly recently but another fancy uke purchase meant it was surplus to the owner. At any rate, after receiving it the only work I've done was to lightly setup the nut which had slots that were a bit high. That set the action right to perfect -- about 1/16" at the 12th fret -- and I haven't touched it since. There's one or two old repaired hairline cracks on the back but otherwise it's in good shape.

I love the sort of "chunky" Gibson-style rope rosette. Combined with the small soundhole it gives these ukes their own peculiar shape and fashion.

Like most Gibson products of this era, it feels a little heavier-built than a Martin but that gives a sense of safety when you're leaving it out on the couch for a moment to do battle with rugrats and 3-year-olds. It also gives these a distinctly "darker" Gibson sound which isn't as loud and feathery as a Martin but (for my fingertips) suits the fingerpicking and chunky/choppy chording I favor.

Ebony nut. The silver (painted?) "The Gibson" script looks nice hanging on the wall next to my 40s L-30 bearing the same (minus "the").

The fretboards on these guys all seem to be dyed maple ("ebonized") but the micro dots are sure classy, as usual.

You can see that  haven't even adjusted the saddle (ebony) at all or cut the extra tiny string length off... the bridge is also glued-up just dandy which I find the usual for many Gibson bridges.

The thin finish is nice and glossy but has some scratches (par for the course).

Since getting this uke "in" on Wednesday (I think?) I've put this to use upstairs in helping me tidy up some songs with loose lyrics and progressions I've been working on. I love writing on a uke.

The micro-size Waverly-style tuners sure are classy on these old Gibs.


Anonymous said…


Anonymous said…
Hello, Beautiful Uke! I noticed you said you favor the chunky/choppy chording. I've recently begun ukulele from guitar & banjo and was criticized, told my picking can be choppy. I see it as light and airy interpretation. What are your thoughts??