1950s Wabash Baritone Ukulele

This "Wabash" brand baritone uke is US-made (probably by Vega, judging by others in its lineage) and like a less-refined version of the Bobby Henshaw ukes. It's all-solid mahogany throughout with a rosewood board and bridge. I'm betting this one dates to the late 50s. It has a sweet, mellow sound and plays well after a bolt-style neck reset, new bone saddle, light fret work, and setup.

This is a "friendly" uke and already has plenty of scratches, scuffs, nicks, and dings here and there so you can carry it around anywhere and not fear causing it much harm. Aside from the work mentioned I also cleated/filled a couple hairline cracks (one top lower bout and one back center), too.

The strings are standard GHS black nylon/silver-wound basses.

I like the sound of this as a baritone but I also tried it as a low-G GCEA-tuned uke, too, and liked that as well. This uke has good sustain with a woody, mellow tone to it and it records very, very easily because of that.

I replaced the original friction pegs with some Kluson-style guitar tuners. They look fine (to my eyes) on baris and sure help a newer (or even seasoned, for that matter) player keep things in tune without hassle. The shaft holes may look a little oversize but they're just beveled on the top edge so this didn't need ferrules for a good fit of the tuners.

Brass frets and close 1/16" at the 12th fret action. This is perfectly setup for a strummer or light fingerpicker but someone who bangs on it may want to shim the saddle just a touch.

I added a bone saddle which was certainly a better replacement for the too-low original plastic one.

I used a strap button to hide a bolt that I installed right through the heel (that tightens inside at the neck block). This snugged things up. At the same time I glued it, too. This came with a loose neck and a kind of fudged joint so this solution seemed the best to me.

A strap button at the endblock got added, too.


Jesse Jamison said…
I've got a baritone Wabash that looks almost like this one except that mine has the same bridge as the Bobby Henshaw one pictured on the link you provided. As a matter of fact, mine looks exactly like the Bobby Henshaw one except that it says Wabash and the ring around the sound hole looks more gold color. Were they made my the same company?
Jerome said…
I have a Wabash baritone also. It looks very similar with the dings and knicks. I was thinking about changing the friction tuners too! The tone is “tinny” and doesn’t project, but the heel seems firm. The fingerboard looks good, a couple tiny knicks there, but nothing of consequence.
Mine has a woodscrew as a strap button at the bottom. Kinda hokey looking, but it adds character.
The decorative ring around the sound hole has a faded pearl color.
I gave it a standard tuning but will change the G to a low G soon. I’m hoping to get a new bridge to bring a warmer sound, which is almost a banjo-ey tone.
It’s my loaner, my kids’ toy and my on-off project.