1920s Harmony-made "California-Style" Banjo Ukulele

A more-local customer sent this in for rehab. I've worked on tons of this same model (and its variations) before, but this one was in slightly-better shape than usual (its frets were actually set more-or-less level) and features a small, hoop-style tonering installed under the head rather than skin-to-wood.

Work also included the usual -- a fret level/dress, modification of the neck/rim attachment to include a second bolt below the main one, general cleaning, some dot inlay added to the fretboard, a slightly-taller new bridge, and a good setup. It came strung with Aquila Nylguts and so I left them on. It's playing on-the-dot with 1/16" action at the 12th fret and has a nicely-loud, somewhat-punchy vibe to its sound. It has a lot more guts than you'd expect for one of this style.

When I reinstalled the head after modifying the neck join, I rotated the ring an inch and a half or so. This let me get new wood to sink the tension screws into (I predrilled, of course). I then swapped-out all the original (short, narrow) screws for ones a hair longer and thicker.

The most common cause of bad sound on these ukes are the screws slacking-up and not applying enough tension to the head. It's just a silly design, that's all -- too simple for its own good. If the factory had installed longish, thin bolts with a hex nut embedded in the rear (or something like that), this would never be a problem. However, you have to realize that a uke like this was thought-of in the market like an entry-level Kala.

The neck appears to be poplar or basswood. The nut is rosewood, however.

The small, old, brass frets leveled and dressed just fine. Often they have very poor seating and I need to tack-glue them all in place -- which is a big "sigh" on a cheaper instrument. These ones, thankfully, didn't need that.

The resonator is solid maple and the rim is solid, turned "something" with maple veneer on the outside.

The tuners are not original.