c.1925 Joseph Pacheco Banjo Ukulele

This curious old banjo uke is stamped "J. Pacheco Mfg." on the dowel with the "Platophone" branding as well. Apparently most Platophone instruments (usually tenor banjos) have a bizarre, complicated tonering and some were made by Vega in Boston (where Pacheco was located). I honestly don't think that this is a Vega build but it's getting there quality-wise.

My work on it was for a customer and it got a quick refret, cleaning, and setup. It has a great sound (even with the sort of yucky black nylon strings) and has a non-tonering 7" maple rim and a longer 14" scale (for a soprano banjo uke) which gives this a bit more tension, sustain, and snap than usual.

The instrument is mostly original though the nuts might all be replacements and the tailpiece, too.

I like the cool "open book" style headstock.

This has a thin, straight neck that's somewhat narrow which makes it feel more like playing a concert uke than a soprano.

I had to refret it because, time-wise, it just made sense. The original frets had plenty of height but they were lifting out all over the place and rather than pulling them all out and regluing them into their slots, leveling, and dressing them (tedious!) it was far faster and had a better outcome to simply pull them, clean the slots, and refret after dressing the board. The reason they were pulling out in the first place is that the original slotting was fairly shallow and in a shallow (1/16") thick fretboard.

The board, by the way, is rosewood.

An original all-maple bridge continues to work just fine.

Nice quality little thing, huh?


Unknown said…
At a quick glance at the first picture I thought, "Wow! An 8 string banjo uke! How rare is that!"

Then I scrolled down...