1920s Turturro (Stewart-branded) Peanut (Bowlback) Ukulele

Hmm, so. Hmm. Nicola Turturro (of the famous "flipsie-over" mandolin/uke combo instrument) also designed these critters. Yes, they're bowlback ukuleles but... but... they're shaped like peanuts! They're so much like peanuts I want to whack it in half and feed its innards to the nearest chipmunk. Though -- these days -- that's frowned-upon. Childhood memories! What else will fail me in the future?

Folks enjoy the mysticism that Turtorro himself built these ukes for various sellers at his Coney Island address. It's a good story that I don't entirely believe, though. I'm pretty certain that Harmony in Chicago built the production versions of these, at least. I've seen a few different variants online -- two of which have more-sculpted heels and "one-off" stylistic embellishments and two more that are more straight-laced and with flattened heel/heel-cap areas. 

This particular instrument (with the flattened heel-style) has Harmony-like fingerprints all over it -- a doweled neck joint (usually seen in Chicago ukes), Harmony-style "swoosh" to the headstock's top, Harmony-style late-teens/early-'20s neck profile and frets, Harmony-style bridge (of the type seen on their fancier instruments in the '20s), and the same finish style I've encountered on upper-end Harmony ukes from the time over and over again. The bracing is similar, too. That said, I can't prove it, but that's what I think is going-on, here. I may be overly-suspicious and entirely-crazy, though.

Beyond that, it's interesting to note that the back of the headstock bears an SS Stewart (B&J was selling that brand at this point, I think?) label but the Turturro branding is pressed (Martin-style) into the wood under it. The owner of this uke pointed-out that might be the case.

The work wasn't too serious on this, though it does have some old battle scars from years of good use. It's currently all-original except for the tuners, which are 1900s-era celluloid friction pegs from my parts-bin that I fit to replace missing original wood ones. I'm awaiting some Pegheds 4:1 geared tuners for it but I couldn't stand waiting to hear it anymore -- so popped these on and strung it up.

It's extremely lightweight and handles easily. I like that the fretboard is wide-enough for "manly" paws to get some chording going-on with it. There's nothing worse than choking-up a sliding G-shaped chord on a uke. Well -- I can think of many things far worse, but let's make-pretend for now.

As far as sound goes -- oh my is it good. This has a lot more clarity, focus, and projection than I would expect from a typical mahogany soprano uke braced and cut along the same shape but flat-backed. It pulls-off that trick the better Ovations do of being both warm and clear at the same time with oodles of headroom and lots of responsiveness. The notes just go pop-pop-pop from your fingers. I like it.

I'm assuming production was killed on these because they were simply too much of a pain in the rear to make in any numbers (just look at those ribs on the back... they're ridiculous). That, of course, would mean that they couldn't be sold at a decent profit if they're priced to move. It's the common doom of any adventurous but successful design in the instrument world. I suppose the modern "Magic Fluke" ukes try to get there in their own way... albeit at a scalable operating environment due to molded backs.

Repairs included: neck reset, fret level/dress, some seam repairs to the bowl, much cleaning, setup.

Made by: unknown for certain
Made in: unknown for certain

Top wood: solid mahogany
Back & sides wood: solid mahogany
Bracing type: ladder
Bridge: black-stained unknown
Fretboard: rosewood
Neck wood: mahogany
Tone: clean, clear, warm, sweet, lots of projection

Action height at 12th fret: 1/16" overall (fast)
String gauges: D'Addario EJ99T fluorocarbon
Neck shape: medium soft-V
Board radius: flat
Neck relief: straight
Fret style: small/thin
Scale length: 13 5/8"
Nut width: 1 1/2"
String spacing at nut: 1 5/16"
String spacing at bridge: 1 3/4"
Body length: 9 1/2"
Body width: 6 1/4"
Body depth: 3"
Weight: 9 0z

Condition notes: it's original save for the replacement (older) pegs. There's an uglier seam-crack repair on the side (part my fault and part the fault of a seam that was left-open with some minor ragged damaged over time -- if you try to massage the fill on these too much you wind-up marking-up the finish too much), a couple other minor hairline seam/crack repairs on the bowl as well, and a repaired hairline crack on the top below the bridge. As you might expect, it's had a lot of life in it and there are scuffs and scratches (minor ones) all over, though they cleaned-up nicely with a bit of polish. The tuners are replacement friction pegs in celluloid. There's a split in the binding at the top on the bass-side waist. It's non-obvious and not an issue as it's repaired.