1920s Schoenhut "California-style" Banjo Ukulele

In 2016 I had the sopranino version of this in the shop. It was cute. This is the "normal" soprano size and it's just about the most "typical" cheap banjo uke design from the '20s that it can be. The rim and neck are made from poplar, the head's tension is supplied by a simple ring with tension-screws (a design that works so-so), and despite its build challenges, it actually has a decent, warm, sound.

This came in via a customer and I gave it the work necessary to make it a player -- I leveled and dressed the frets, installed a new head (the old one was split 2/3 along the edges of where the head meets the metal hoop -- very typical), added a set of parts-bin period tuners, cut-down an old Non-Tip bridge, and set it up. It plays on-the-dot but my frustration with this design is that the head never stays tight, so you have to counter that by always having a second (taller or shorter) bridge on hand if you want your action to be ideal.

Often times the frets on these are installed as such hilariously-bad angles to one another that it's almost easier to refret than level/dress. These, thankfully, were in good shape and just needed the latter. Part of the problem is that the soft-ish wood of the neck compresses when the frets get knocked-in!

I like the funky metal plate someone added to shore-up the neck joint.