1920s Harmony-made California-style Banjo Ukulele




A consignor sent this in for resale and, while working on another banjo of his, I got it going. These old "California-style" (meaning: inset top-tension rim of low-cost design) banjo ukes were made by the boatload in the '20s and early '30s and they turn-up all over the place with varying colors, finishes, and decorations. This is one of the plainest types, though it does have neat decals applied to the side of the rim and the neck's face. I'm pretty sure it was made by Harmony in the mid-'20s.

After work is done, these play just as well as a fancier banjo uke, though their sound is much more folky and mellow. These are only a little bit louder than a decent soprano uke so the "banjo" part of it is more about tone and zip than it is about punching above your jam friends.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, side dots install, replacement tuners (1920s friction pegs), replacement bridge, extra bolt-reinforcement and neck angle adjustment to the heel, cleaning, and setup.

Setup notes: action is bang-on at 1/16" at the 12th fret overall, the neck is straight, and it's strung with light-gauge Aquila Nylgut strings.

Scale length: 12 7/8"
Nut width: 1 3/8"
String spacing at nut: 1 1/16"
String spacing at bridge: 1 3/8"
Head diameter: 5 5/8"
Rim diameter: 7"
Rim depth: 2"
Rim material: ply maple(?)
Neck wood: poplar
Bridge: maple/ebony vintage '20s-era
Neck feel: slim-med C, flat board

Condition notes: there's wear-and-tear throughout with lots of nicks, scratches, and dings. That's totally normal for this type of banjo-uke and I've only seen one or two I'd describe anywhere near clean. The tuners are vintage replacements and the bridge is a vintage replacement, too. There's one tiny little tear on the head near the tailpiece, but it's stable and a non-issue.











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