1920s The Vernon Banjo Ukulele

Update 2020: new photos, updated description, same video (it still sounds just like that).

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).

This one came in nice and clean but needing a glorified setup. Now that it's had work, it plays on-the-dot with fast action and a quick feel.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, setup, restring, and side dots. I also swapped some newer tuners out for some vintage, parts-bin ones -- they're friction pegs but they work nicely.

Setup notes: the neck is straight and action is perfect at 1/16" at the 12th fret. I just put a set of new D'Addario flurocarbon strings on, too.

Scale length: 13 1/8"
Nut width: 1 3/16"
String spacing at nut: 1"
String spacing at bridge: 1 1/2"
Head diameter: 7"
Rim depth: 2 3/8"
Rim material: maple multi-ply
Neck wood: maple
Fretboard wood: ebonized pearwood or maple
Bridge: maple w/ebony top
Neck feel: medium-big C-shape, flat board

Condition notes: The instrument appears all-original save a possibly-replacement skin head, replacement tuners, and a possibly-replacement '20s Vega-branded bridge.

It comes with: a black gigbag.

Other notes from my original 2018 blog entry:

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 is, 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.

Behind that little neck brace [at the dowel/rim joint] is a hidden bolt that does the actual work of securing the neck to the rim.

The Elite-style tailpiece is a nice feature [and also rare to see].


Dan said…
I have one of these. The name plate is mounted on the back and has three of four original white friction pegs.