Here is the latest news on Ukulele Corner and the instruments that are coming 

With the demise of Picasa the old show here is no longer maintainable
when i find an usable alternative i will put something here

That's a funny looking Guitar?

posted by Lardy Fatboy

Trembita K-58 12 string Kobza
Even for a 12 string; but that's how the auction house listed it; mind you they did list a Bouzouki and a Mandola as Guitars too and this at least had 6 courses like a Guitar. It was listed as a Trembita Guitar, which I at first thought was the name of the design, but of course they got the word Trembita from the sound hole label and it is the maker not the make. There were a number of other Guitars as lots that I would like to invite, (and the Bouzouki and the Mandola), so other than seeing it as a curio I didn't look much further into what it was before the auction. All of the other Chordophones had better invitations than mine though so this was the only thing I won, so I thought I would look into it some more and this is what I found out.

Trembita is an acoustic Guitar and Folk Instrument maker in Lviv, Ukraine. They say they have been in business for over 60 years making guitars and that they are currently the only commercial manufacturer of Ukrainian Bandura, (so they probably made mine as well, though I couldn't see it in the current catalogue? But there were a number of production instruments mentioned that I couldn't see in the catalogue?) Reading their history I found that in 2003 they expanded their range of eastern European Folk Instruments to include Balalaika, Domra and some Ukrainian Instruments called Kobza. When I looked at the catalogue, low and behold there was my 12 string Guitar not as a Guitar but as a 12 string  6 course fretted Kobza! So knowing nothing about the Kobza  I looked that up and found that it was a lute like instrument dating back to the 4th century. Being a bit fluid at the time it had between 4 and 9 strings as 1 string courses and that it was usually fretless though did sometimes have gut frets tied around the neck. the tuning was fairly fluid too and it's popularity waxed and waned over the centuries. About 100 years ago the most popular player at the time switched to playing a flat backed version with proper metal frets on the neck. This wasn't, and still isn't approved of by the Kobza purists but all of Trembita's Kobza are fretted and are made to be tuned like a standard Guitar, (I don't know with this 12 string though if any of the courses are suppose to be octaved?)

A long time ago and in a Galaxy far far away...

posted 20 Jan 2018, 12:26 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 20 Jan 2018, 13:11 ]

Starforce fretless Bass
There were some dodgy "cowboy's in space" movies made. The lasers guns fired light bullets, one at a time, and the baddies always missed.
Around the same time but not quite so far away, well at least in the same Galaxy; and even the same Planet, but on the other side to Ukulele Corner, there was StarForce!
What has been invited to Ukulele Corner today is a fretless 4 string Bass dating from the late 80's, made at the Samick works in Korea and branded by some Miami distributor as a StarForce 7005. I'm not sure exactly the year of manufacture but the brand started in 1988 and at some point became StarForce USA. Mine must be early as it doesn't have the USA added, but it does have little Saturn type planets as all of its fret markers which are quite cute. These, along with the lines where the frets would normally be will be very necessary or I would have no idea where to put my fingers?  I've never really played a fretless Bass before so I'm quite looking forward to it arriving and who knows, it might make me a better Bass player?

New Year, New Uke

posted 1 Jan 2018, 15:58 by Lardy Fatboy

Enya modern Roundbody Soprano
And what is coming now is an Enya round body Soprano

As it's Christmas...

posted 24 Dec 2017, 16:19 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 4 Jan 2018, 09:44 ]

Deering Goodtime Concert Banjolele with an 11 inch drum
I thought I'd get myself a little present.
What I have invited this time is a Concert scale Deering Goodtime open backed Banjo Ukulele. These are generally fairly expensive so when they came out a couple of years ago, whilst I knew I would get one one day I knew I would have to wait for a bit for the price to go down. The do come up on ebay occasionally but while the start price is just about reasonable, they soon shoot up to a nearly new price that is above what I would go. Well this time once again the start price was just about reasonable so I had a punt, I wasn't going to go much higher than the start price though, but maybe because of the time of year I didn't have to; no one else bid! So although I'm not getting the Deering gig bag with it, I am inviting it at a fairly bargain, (for what they usually sell for), price.

It's Here!!

After quite a bit of faffing, getting it delivered during the holiday period, and it is quite lovely. Very big with it's 11 inch drum, but still lovely. It's also a bit lighter than I was expecting too. Every bit about it is quality though, and I like the way the Deering logo is stamped on the back of the fretboard overhang. when seeing them in pictures before I always wondered what the piece of wood between the bridge and the head was, and worried it might be detrimental to the sound.  It isn't though I have tried it now both on and off, and whilst it sounds pretty good with it off it actually sounds a lot beter with it on.

  

This will be two new experiences

posted 7 Dec 2017, 18:27 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 4 Jan 2018, 06:54 ]

Harley Benton R-45 8BK Progressive 8 string Fan Fret Guitar
New Experience one is that the Guitar has 8 strings! That is 8 single string courses not some double string course Plectrum Guitar/ Mandola/ Taropatch thing. F#~B~E~A~D~G~B~E; this is the tuning I will be using, and new experience two is that it has Fan Frets!! That is right, the scale length of each string is different and the fret bars are not in parallel, or perpendicular to the strings. This is suppose to improve intonation, but never having played one before I don't know how tricky it will make chords; especially barre chords?.

The Guitar itself is branded as a Harley Benton R-45 and though it is new it is not coming directly from Thomann. It was put up on ebay, not listed as a Harley Benton, with a buy it now or best offer price and after a couple of cheeky offers my price was accepted. it was only then that I noticed while examining the photos that it was a Harley Benton and when I checked on the Thomann website I found that my offers were not cheeky, the original asking price was! Even with a substantial discount from the buy it now price I was still probably a fiver more than buying it from Thomann, (though with currency exchange rates and commission fees it may well have been closer), so not the bargain I first thought. Still it's not excessive and I do love the FAT, FAT neck of an 8 string Guitar, (maybe I need to look a a 9 string now?) Still no idea how to play it though?

It's Here!

And boy does it have a fat neck! The fan frets don't seem to get in the way when playing chords but like with the 7 string, the extra strings make it easy to loose you place when doing C and G chords

This one is Guaranteed

posted 13 Oct 2017, 07:09 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 11 Dec 2017, 16:00 ]

Illinois Guarantee metal rim Banjolele
Illinois Guaranteed even, though as its 90 odd years old I'm not sure if the guarantee is still valid?
This is one of my biggest Banjolele mysteries, despite having seen it branded by a number of distributors, and even more often completely unbranded, I am not sure who actually makes it? If I had to pick I would say Globe as it has a number of Globe traits, the fretboard finishing after 16 frets, still well short of the drum. the circular hole in the middle of the resonator, (even though in this case the resonator is metal) However I have never seen one branded with any of Globes brands or in any of Globes catalogues. Hopefully I will learn more once it arrives, perhaps even solve the mystery?

It's Here!

And it is very nicely made; definitely different with the metal body, flanged resonator and brackets. I can't say I am particularly taken with the writing on the head though, (however I won't change it just because of the "graffiti"), and the nut is a replacement that is set to high so it needs filing down. I am still not sure who made it though? The fretboard makes me think Globe but the all metal body does make me think of MISCo

Not a Lawsuit

posted 7 Oct 2017, 18:15 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 12 Nov 2017, 16:48 ]

Kasuga semi acoustic Guitar
Well were they ever? I suppose there was the C.F.Martin vs K. Yasuma that did actually go through to a verdict and Yasuma had to destroy a lot of their American stock though most people seem to forget this one, and the Norlin Gibson vs Hoshino Ibanez that went to court but the parties involved settled out of court before a verdict was reached. This is the one most people think of when they talk about "Lawsuit Guitars" but these day the term has expanded to include any Japanese made electric guitar from the first half of the 1970's that looked a bit like a U.S. guitar design and is expanding still, to include Korean and Chinese copies plus original designs by Japanese makers who also made copies.

Well this is Japanese, it is from that period and while not exactly slavish it is a kind of copy of a Gibson "Barney Kessel" but Kasuga Gakki, the firm that made it, had their own factory where they made all of the Guitars that bear their name, and whilst they did do some OEM for Tokai, they never had any run-ins with Gibson, Fender or Martin. They did have a reputation for making good quality chordophones though, and quality is always welcome and Ukulele Corner featuring the Pony Guitar Sanctuary

I got this, and it is branded Kasuga, at an auction along the coast that was being broadcast live so I have got to go and collect it but as they are having another auction next weekend that includes a couple of other instruments I would like to invite, I will go along to that, and hopefully this won't be the only instrument that will come home with me

It's Here...

but it's on it's own and has the most propeller neck  I think I have ever seen on any chordophone! It, (from a distance), does look nice though it's only other cosmetic issue is the bridge pickup has lost all of its chrome colouring. Not really a problem and I could probably get another cover, or even some metallic model paint and repaint it. as for the neck, I have had the guitar doctors at BMM have a look at it and the verdict is not a lot can be economically done. They could steam heat it and possibly twist it back, but then they would have to re-fret it and possible have to redo the fret marker plates. It would be cheaper to get a new neck for it though, (but then it would not be as original). the did have a go at the twist with the truss rod and set the guitar up as much as possible so now it is possible to play cowboy chords on it. But I can only play cowboy chords so that will probably be alright

A big Thumbs Up

posted 17 Sep 2017, 18:31 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 11 Dec 2017, 15:51 ]

Lindert Conductor
Starosvitska (Ukrainian Folk) Bandura
A couple of auctions ended this evening and in both cases, apart from me there was very little interest.
The first, (and it wasn't an ebay auction; I think it would have got a lot more interest if it was), was a 1990's US made Lindert Conductor electric guitar with the thumbs up headstock. It was in a timed auction and only one other person bid, (and they only bid once) Lindert is a very different and fairly rare series. I am told they are quite good and I will find out as I did honor my bid and invited it to Ukulele Corner.

The other is a small Ukrainian traditional instrument called Folk or Starosvitska Bandura. It appears, (if you believe wikipedia), to have had an long and varied history where it has been a symbol of Ukrainian Cossack nationalism whose popularity has waxed and waned with the relationship between the Ukraine and Russia. There have been historical massacres because of it in the bad times and orchestras made up of different sizes of it in the good times. What I don't know however, is how to play it? Do you play chords on the longer neck bit? Do you strum it or pluck it? But no one bid against me in the ebay auction so I'll have a better idea when it arrives.

They're Here

And the Lindart is excellent, (if a little heavy). It is without doubt, one of the, if not the best Guitar I own. all of the electrics work and it all feels like quality. Its definitely worthy of a big thumbs up

The Bandura is nice too and is a piccolo, (so not very big). I can play it like a harp, one string at a time, but my repertoire so far is limited to "close encounters of the third kind". Handy if I need to communicate with aliens but not quite rock and roll. What I have found out about them though, is they have some similarities to playing a Harp Guitar, (I don't know how to play one of those either though) As an instrument it is well made and solid with steel strings that have zither like tuners, (so you need a spanner, or some kind of other tool to turn them). However I don't know what notes I am suppose to tune the strings too? Fun though and definitely different

The Search Continues...

posted 13 Sep 2017, 17:54 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 27 Oct 2017, 14:52 ]

Regal Blue Label Soprano
For a nice Blue Label Regal.
So I have a nice black label Regal, I have a number of Regal made Ukuleles from this era that have been rebranded by others, (Tonk Bros, Wexler Wabash, B&S Michigan...). I had a nice looking Blue Label Regal but I had to give it away to the Ukulele Doctor, then I had another even nicer Blue Label Regal but unfortunately it met with an "accident" (sic). So now here I am inviting another; I hope it not going to be the Spinal Tap Drummer of Ukulele Corner! This one is a nice late 30's or so, sunburst standard with no major issues; and hopefully once it gets here it will stay that way

It's Here

And I think it may be third time lucky. There are no issues that need sorting (apart from trimming the strings and I can do that) so I won't have to show it to the Ukulele Doctor and I am being extra, extra careful. The Decal is fine but the tuners are not original and it looks like the bridge has been reglued at some point  but I don't think ether of these detract from it. My largest concern is that the action looks very high, (as is often the case with Ukuleles of this vintage), and there is nothing really I can do about that. Still it will be good for finger picking and I did invite it largely for show. If I keep it cased when not in use it should last safely for another 80 years.

OK, not enough Mystery Ukes

posted 10 Sep 2017, 15:39 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 27 Oct 2017, 15:06 ]

Maruha Gakki Seizo Soprano 14
Everything I know about this Ukulele if from the seller and the pictures so I should verify it, but I'll write down what I know at the moment. It was made in Japan in the late 1950's by Maruha Gakki and maybe the Ukulele, maybe the person who made it is called Seizo (Maruha)? Alot of this information comes from the label so is probably correct as far as it goes. The seller tells me that it came to him via California and has had a lot of restoration work done on it; certainly from the photos I can see it has new tuners. The seller also says that it is a handmade Ukulele from a luthier called Seizo Maruha but the Gakki in the name suggests to me that it may be a bigger organisation than one man behind it? Whatever the case it is a striking and unusual Ukulele with an arched back and I am looking forward to it arriving at Ukulele Corner. I will also do a bit more investigation before it arrives too.

It's Here

and it is strikingly different. Apart from the headstock, which is obvious, with the pressed arch back there is no bracing. The overall finish is very thick gloss varnish, adding to the distinctive look, and speaking of think, the raised fretboard is quite thick too, which keeps the action reasonable along with the bridge, which though similar is definitely not the same as any other bridges I have seen, and is properly saddled which is unusual for this type of Ukulele. As I said it does play nicely but the strings it came with are a bit naff so I think I will replace them before it gets much older

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