1920s Harmony-made Winner Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

I've kind-of lost track on how many of these '20s Harmony-made ukes I've worked-on. This one has "Winner" branding at the headstock but I've seen this same uke design with all sorts of different brands plastered on it. They're meant to look like period Hawaiian ukes and the curly mahogany often makes people confused about whether they're made from koa (I'm sure there are early blog posts of mine where I write about thinking they're koa myself) but the clue that it's not koa is the generally medium-brown color and the straightness of the grain despite the flamey/curly figure.

Being mainland-made, these also have mahogany necks that are dowel-jointed into a neckblock rather than fit with a "Spanish" joint like Hawaiian instruments where the neck and the block are the same piece of wood. Earlier Harmony ukes like this one still use the Hawaiian style of putting the frets right into the face of the neck rather than adding an additional fretboard, too.

This particular uke has upgraded trim compared to the average mahogany Harmony-make from the time -- it has Hawaiian-style rope binding on the back and front edges, a rope-style rosette, and zipper/rope-style inlay down the center of the fretboard. It's pretty.

After various repairs, it plays spot-on and has a sweet, mellow, plucky tone that carries pretty well. They make for good strummers though dedicated fingerpickers might find having more string height off the body (ie, with a uke that has a thicker fretboard) something desirable. The board is flush with the body on these so unless you pick at the bridge, the strings are closer to the top. It's never been an issue for me but I do know customers who find it harder for them.

Repairs included: neck reset/angle adjustment, fret level/dress, brace reglues, side dots install, hairline crack repairs to top and back, setup.


Top wood: solid mahogany

Back & sides wood: solid mahogany

Bracing type: ladder

Bridge: mahogany

Fretboard: none

Neck wood: mahogany


Action height at 12th fret: 1/16" overall (fast)
String gauges: D'Addario EJ99T fluorocarbon

Neck shape: slim-med soft-V

Board radius: flat

Truss rod: none

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: low/small


Scale length: 13"

Nut width: 1 3/8"

Body width: 6"

Body depth: 2 1/4"

Weight: 10 oz


Condition notes: it has two repaired cracks -- one on top, one on back. I added side dots. The finish is in overall good shape and only shows minor playwear and scratching but this finish style is not flat and glossy and does show open pores. That's how it was when it was made and that's how it is now.


Also: The bridge can be strung "as normal" with balled-up ends snug to the back of the bridge slots -- but it can also be "string-through" as I drilled 1/16" holes through the top and hidden in the string slot bottoms. This allows you to pass the string through the top, pull it out the soundhole, ball it up (repeated knots passed through one another), and then pull it up to tension from there. This is a more-snug way to seat the strings and alleviates sideways pressure on the bridge.


Also: The original friction pegs hold just fine but... are original friction pegs. They might start slipping as the seasons change (wood swell/shrink) and you'll need to tighten them with a small screwdriver if so. I always suggest Gotoh UPTs as a huge tuner upgrade but they cost $70/set these days.













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