1940s Kay-made Orpheus 8" Banjo Ukulele

Here's an oddball! I've seen this uke type in eBayland but have never had one through the shop as I recall. I'd always wondered who actually made them (as they always have distributor branding), but never had one in my hands to tell the story. As soon as I took a good look at it and handled it, it became obvious to me that this was probably made by Kay in the '40s. Its rim design is a smaller copy of their late '30s and early '40s rims with a poplar inner ply, mahogany veneer on the outside, and rosewood (of some sort) rim cap. It's also the same sort of woods and coloration of woods I'm used to seeing on their '40s guitars and mandolins. The fretwire is also the same mid-sized brass stock found on loads of Kay mandolins but not many other makes.

Anyhow, it's a pretty no-frills instrument with a 14" scale, mahogany neck with medium C/V neck shape, and 8" rim. It's all-original save the bridge, one hook/nut, and the tuners. Work included a fret level/dress, minor cleaning, better fitting of the replacement tuners, and a setup. It plays just as it should, with 1/16" action at the 12th fret and a straight neck.

I'm so used to seeing post-Lange Orpheum products that it took me a while to realize that this is branded Orpheus.

The two-bolt neck attachment works just dandy.

No comments: