3/29/2018

1920s The Vernon Banjo Ukulele




A kindly fellow actually just sent this uke here with no strings attached -- well, there were strings on it, but you get the drift. It came in nice and clean but needing a good setup and a fret level/dress and side dots -- which it got. I also swapped some newer tuners out for some vintage, parts-bin ones.

I think that this design may have been made by Lange for Bruno (I'm pretty sure they're the ones who owned "The Vernon" branding), but I can't be sure. In any case, it's a no-frills, simple banjo uke with some features that beat the bare-bones versions that look almost the same: it has many more hook/nuts than normal, a fretboard separate from the neck itself (dyed maple or pearwood in this case), a sturdier neck, and a bolted-on neck joint (hidden by a faux-neck-brace at the dowel).

Specs are: 13 1/8" scale, 7" head, 2 1/4" rim depth, 1 3/16" nut width and 1" string spacing at the nut and 1 1/2" spacing at the bridge. The strings are fluorocarbon and it's setup with 1/16" action height (spot-on) at the 12th fret. The back of the neck is a deeper, C-shaped profile. The instrument appears all-original save a possibly-replacement skin head, replacement tuners, and a possibly-replacement '20s Vega-branded bridge.



The star in the headstock looks pretty slick. Note the funky old wooden nut -- still going, though.



The old, 5/8" Vega bridge is interesting. Note the small pad of foam under the string-afterlength. It cuts down on unwanted overtones.


The rim is multi-ply maple and the neck appears to be, too.




Note the small shim at the bottom of the heel. I didn't have any taller-than-5/8" bridges on-hand so to get the action higher I had to shim the heel from the reverse side of normal. This really could use an 11/16" bridge on it.


Behind that little neck brace is a hidden bolt that does the actual work of securing the neck to the rim.





The Elite-style tailpiece is a nice feature.

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