1930s Concertone Banjo Ukulele





What a strange (but absolutely normal, in most ways) banjo uke! I'm used to seeing Concertone-branded ukes bearing a typically-Slingerland design style to them (and this one has an identical heel and rim design), but this uke has a more 1920s Gretsch-ish fretboard and nut look combined with a "wave" headstock shape. It's peculiar and so I can't nail the maker down -- but it's close to my heart, in a way, because of all the banjo ukes I've owned my favorite is a roughly-similar Harmony-made instrument. I like the mellow, folksy, horse-cloppy sound these non-tonering, 7" rim jo-ukes get. They're not really punchy enough for band work but they're great to sing and record with.

I worked on this for a customer and that entailed a new skin head (reclaimed from a larger vintage banjo head with a tear in it), fret level/dress, side dot install, and general setup. The owner wanted it in GDAE (mandolin) tuning and it's wearing a set of Aquila 5th-tuning (GDAE) strings to do that. It sounds great! I like this way better than the usual "melody banjo" (4-string banjo mandolin) tone you get with steel strings. It's more "round" and less piercing but plenty loud all the same.


This instrument has a multi-ply maple rim with birdseye maple veneer on the outside. The neck is also maple and has a sort-of cigar-box-mahogany (or low-grade rosewood?) fretboard material. I'm not exactly sure what it is.




While an original bridge came with the instrument, I replaced it with a slightly-taller same-period bridge.

Note the skin head maker's mark which I accidentally put on the front of the rim! When the head was wet I couldn't even see it as the whole thing had darkened. It's kinda neat, though, on the front. I recycle old torn-at-the-edges 1920s skin heads all the time and many of them bear the drum-head-manufacturer Jos. B. Rogers mark.




The bakelite-buttoned friction pegs have washers already added under them for smoother operation.





All the hardware is original except for...


...the endbolt hanger. When I removed the endbolt to get the neck off for work, I found out that the hanger for the endbolt was stripped and so it wouldn't hold the endbolt in place anymore. I used an L-bracket hanger off of an old Gibson (I believe?) and a simple screw from my parts-bin to replace the endbolt's functionality.

I just didn't have any threaded screws around that matched any of my banjo shoes, unfortunately.


The uke came to me in its original shipping box from Montgomery Wards!

Comments

Jack said…
I just picked up the exact model you have here, except I have a bit of work to do on mine, too. It's missing three oh the hold-down hooks (not sure of the lingo), and the three side nut/hook holders. It needs a skin since it came to me missing the original. Time to learn how to skin this :)
Unknown said…
Just picked up a two on ebay that are complete but need cleanup and skins. I will be learning on one of them on fixing up.