1930s JR Stewart-style Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

Oh, boy, the waters are muddy when it comes to ukes of this style. The owner thinks it's a JR Stewart make like most of the "LeDomino" ukes out there. It certainly looks like one -- it's almost identical in build to the earlier LeDomino ukes save the mahogany body, natural finish, and lack of decals . I've always thought that they were made by Regal (in Chicago) for JR Stewart, but there's controversy about that on the net.

People like to point-out the fancy headstock shape as some sort of mark that Regal didn't make them. Unfortunately, there's a lot of evidence that Regal used this router-bit edge-cut on a lot of instruments. For example: here, and here, and here, and here, and here (w/JR Stewart branding), and here. The shape at the top is slightly different each time but that's likely just because a little more material comes off here and there depending on who's cutting them on the jig. I've also seen a few Regal guitars using the rounded-off edge on their headstocks -- some LeDominos, some Oahus, and some with other makes at the headstock. The headstock shape on this is actually closest to some '30s Dobro ukuleles -- for which Regal made the bodies and necks, too.

The neck shape, fretboard style, and general feel are pretty typical of Regal builds, too. However, the body shape is different from their "normal shapes" and, in this case, the bracing is interesting as well. While I'd normally expect to find ladder bracing, this actually has two fan braces on the lower bout that terminate at a below-soundhole ladder brace. The top is very thin and as a result, this has an outsized volume for its size and a fullness to its sound, too.

So -- the jury's out! Did JR Stewart actually make their own instruments before Regal took them over? Was this one of them? Did Regal simply use-up a stockpile of JR Stewart parts in the early '30s? It's all pretty incestuous.

The fact is that this is a nice uke and, folks, it's got gold-sparkle purfling and binding all over to boot.

Repairs included: bolt-reinforced (from the inside) neck joint, cleats/repair of a top crack, minor brace reglues, bridge reglue, fret level/dress, cleats for previously-repaired back cracks, Pegheds 4:1 geared tuner install at the headstock, and setup.

Setup notes: it plays on-the-dot with 1/16" action at the 12th fret and a straight neck. It's strung with D'Addario fluorocarbon strings.

Scale length: 13 15/16"
Nut width: 1 5/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 3/16"
String spacing at bridge: 1 11/16"
Body length: 9 1/2"
Lower bout width: 6 5/8"
Waist width: 4"
Upper bout width: 5 1/8"
Side depth at endpin: 2 1/4"
Top wood: solid mahogany
Back/sides wood: solid mahogany
Neck wood: mahogany
Bracing type: fan
Fretboard: ebonized maple
Bridge: mahogany, bone saddle
Neck feel: slim-med C shape, flat board

Condition notes: there are a few repaired hairline cracks on the body and one long one on the treble side. It's otherwise pretty clean and in good order.