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

Carrying on with the Homemade Theme

posted 21 May 2017, 16:36 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 23 May 2017, 15:18 ]

Homemade Cigar (actually Trinket) Box Soprano
Coming to Ukulele Corner now is a small Soprano scale (No) Cigar box Ukulele. I say No Cigar because though it is a one off home made Ukulele using a reclaimed box for a body, the box in question has never held Cigars. I now quite sure what it was in a previous life? I thought it was a pencil box to start with, the type with the sliding lid, but I can see that it's not so I'm thinking now some kind of trinket box?I asked the maker but all he would say "yes, the box was reclaimed". The maker is a chap who has retired and has taken to making cigar box type instruments as a hobby. Though he makes them to sell he's not looking to make a lot of money from them, so fr that reason it was very cheap. The box is a little plain but I have always wanted a proper "home made" reclaimed box Ukulele but I was never going to make one myself so this is the next best thing.

There was a big Banjo auction today

posted 18 May 2017, 15:56 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 23 May 2017, 16:23 ]

Windsor Whirle Victory Tenor Banjo
George Houghton & Sons open back Tenor Banjo
Keech type A Banjulele
Well that's not quite true, it was more of a Violin auction but it did include 26 Banjos of varying flavours; including Banjoleles, and a couple of nice Ukuleles too, (one was a 1920's Martin S1 and another was a Mainland Tenor; but I didn't get either). Obviously my interest in the auction was on the Ukuleles and the Banjoleles, (including an Abbot Snr. Monarch - that ended up going for £2½k + 24% auction fees!) I steered well clear of the Banjo Mandolins, the Zither Banjos and the 5 strings, but there were some reasonable Tenor Banjos that I thought were worth a small punt with a pre auction bid. 
Come the auction and I didn't do well on the really good stuff even though the auction house clearly didn't know what they were selling, (they listed all the Zither Banjos as 6 string Banjos, and the Martin S1 as a Banjo Ukulele with a guide price of £30-£50!! Still went for well over £300 + fees). I did get a Keech type A Banjulele that looks in pretty good nick, though I did pay as much as I was willing to go to; so It wasn't that much of a Bargain. Having brought one thing I was a bit more bullish that I would normally have been on subsequent lots and when the Windsor Whirl open backed 19 fret Tenor Banjo started out with my low pre auction bid; and very nearly sold for it  too, I was spurred into action and bid again a couple of times eventually winning at the top of what I was willing to pay. After all I didn't have an open backed Tenor Banjo and it does have a nice looking whirl plaque on the headstock. Then a few lots later and it was the turn of Birmingham's other Banjo Maker, George Houghton & Sons with their open backed Tenor Banjo. This too started low with my pre auction bid but, possibly because the auction house once again didn't know what they were looking at and listed it as "unknown maker" even though it had the Lion and "British Made"  clearly marked on the headstock, this time no one else bid. Had they done so I would have let it go because I had already got the Windsor, which is probably the better quality instrument and I didn't need two open back Tenors really. Need no, want yes and now they and the Keech are on the way to Ukulele Corner

I've been at the Biscuits again!

posted 13 May 2017, 15:49 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 18 May 2017, 13:53 ]

Cig-R Guitars Soprano Canjolele
Actually that's not true, the confection in question this time is a Dundee Cake and it has "by appointment to the King" on it, so Elvis must have eaten the cake that came in the tin? (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!)
Seriously though, what I have invited this time is a Soprano scale Cookie, (or should that be Cake?) Tin Canjolele made by a maker calling his instruments Cig-R Guitars and specialising in Cigar and other repurposed soundbox instruments. I didn't actually get it from him though, it's traveled about a bit more than that, (the actual maker is not that far from Ukulele Corner) so as a Canjolele its second hand but the tin has been around, certainly chronologically, a lot longer as its more than 60 years old

It's Here...

and it is very well made; far better than I was expecting, especially the neck which is a nice, well made D profile. The tin is very cool too, perhaps a little more faded than I first thought from the photos but it has a great patina and all of the logos and things  are clearly legible, especially the "By Appointment" one on the heel. Like the seller said, it is very quiet, but its loud and tuneful enough for messing about on and I don't want to mess about on it too much in case I damage what's left of the finish

A good day on eBay

posted 6 May 2017, 11:59 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 18 May 2017, 13:19 ]

APC 101 L Cavaquinho (with the English tuners)
Ukranian Domra
Dean 12 string Banjitar
But probably not for my Bank Balance?!
What happened today is 2 auction wins and a negotiated down Buy it now. The buy it now was invited first and is an APC 101L ray mouthed Cavaquinho with "English" tuners. Ive always fancied getting something with them because I think they look so different and I was vaguely thinking a Fado Guitar or something because I already have a number of Cavaquinhos, but when I saw this one with a buy it now or best offer price, and the buy it now wasn't ridiculous I thought it worth an offer. My first offer was rejected, but countered so after a couple of iterations of offer and counter offer, we agreed a price, coincidentally on the same day as a number of auctions for Chordophones I was trying to invite. One was a, (possibly Ukrainian?) Domra. Now I don't know a lot about Domras beyond they are an eastern European Folk Chordophone, usually with a bowl back, 4 strings and smaller than a Guitar. I think there may be size differences and I have seen them, (or something very similar), with diatonic fretboards. Anyway a woman was swelling two of them on eBay with a 99p starting price, one ready to go and the other, (which I actually liked more), listed as "for spares or repair" I asked what was wrong with it and was told it needed a new nut. Well thats not a difficult job so I thought it worth a punt, and though I ended up going to my maximum, it was still fairly cheap and now its coming to Ukulele Corner. I hope it is just the nut and it is an easy fix, then I can find out how to tune one and play some rock and roll on it.
The third item I invited is a Dean "Backwoods" 12 string Banjitar. I have always liked the idea of a Banjitar and so have tried to invite one on a number of occasions, but I was particularly interested in this one because the 12 string variants are much rarer with only a couple of firms selling them, and I believe this Dean one is now discontinued, (the 6 string Dean Backwood is still in production but not as far as I can see the 12?). It accepted my invitation, again at my maximum, so now its on the way to Ukulele Corner incorporating the Pony Guitar Sanctuary. It will be interesting to see how the 12 string works as I've not heard one. and wonder if the tones are why they are not more common?

They're all Here

And they are all lovely.
The Domra is only missing the nut so the only problem here, (apart from what strings? and how do you tune and play it?) is that the neck is very narrow and I think all of my spare Ukulele nuts will be a bit wide? (they are) ,there are not splits cracks or busted seems and everything is solid if not highly crafted the tuners are obviously not both original as one side is white and the other black and on a raised rail, (probably originally to fit over a thinner headstock?), but the buttons are the same design, if not the same colour and this gives an interesting, and not wholly out of play look to the headstock. The other end is interesting too. The tailpiece is not a tailpiece as such, it is more like 4 bridge pins, but on the base, (and thankfully they are all there).

I'm loving the APC too! Yes the intonation is a bit suspect especially on the G string but you've got to love that headstock and I find the "English" tuners are better and easier than friction tuners. I will have to watch out for specialist strings that are loop end on both ends though as I don't think single loop end strings will work very well. I am doing the cavaquinho "solo" tuning on it so D~G~B~E (rather than the D it should be for proper Cavaquinho tuning) I am also a little perplexed by the model number? I thought when looking at the APC catalogue online this was a 101L though there wasn't one listed. The ray mouth and the unstained soundboard are the same as the 101 and on some of the other models shown, when the have English Tuners rather than geared ones the model number gets an L suffix. Now it's here I can see on the sound hole label that it's a 105 model; no L and it also doesn't appear in the current catalogue?

The Dean is a lovely bit of kit too. Solid and well made so it feels the part as well as looking the part. I can see why 12 string banjitars are not common though, the extra strings make it quite hard to play as the gap between courses is very narrow because the floating bridge needs it that narrow. also, as its a kind of Banjo the tone definition is a bit muddy and you don't really get all of the tonal nuances that you would get from a 12 string Guitar. I'm glad I got it ,after all if I didn't have one and had a 6 string I would still want one but I guess I still need a 6 string Banjitar and I would be much more likely to play it

Now I've improved my spelling...

posted 1 May 2017, 15:51 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 7 May 2017, 16:10 ]

(Hora made) Ozark Bouzouki
Because what I have invited this time is an Ozark Bouzouki, (made by Hora and distributed by Stentor), and Bouzouki is not an easy word to spell. It was in a timed auction and I  didn't realise that a timed auction is an auction that an auction house runs kind of like ebay but still with the normal auctioneers fees, (unlike ebay) Anyway I put an opening bid in at the minimum they would accept and planned to come back and watch the auction live, (though with the fees I wasn't really planning to go much higher) Come the time of the auction I went to connect like I normally do and found that there was nothing to connect to, and that the timed auction had ended and I had won. So it has a solid spruce top and is Octave Mandolin sized with a fairly (compared to the Greek Bouzoukis) subtle pick guard, (though more ornate than the current model). I thought it should be tuned G~D~A~E like an standard Mandolin but an octave lower and I was thinking like the Mandola, being bigger it will be easier to play than a standard Mandolin, but unlike the Mandola it will use exactly the same chords so I won't need to transpose. When I went to the Stentor website though, they were recommending a tuning in fourths like a Guitar rather than fifths like a Mandolin and that I should use the same four notes as the four lowest strings of a Guitar so E~A~D~G. In some ways this will make it easier to play but I know from my Cak that missing the first strings can be a bit confusing, especially as the Baritone Ukulele and the chicago tuned Tenor Guitar, that I am use to playing, are tuned to the four highest strings of a Guitar. So lots of options for tuning and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it needs new strings when it arrives thus leaving all the options open So lots of tuning fun and I'm looking forward to it.

It's Here

and from what I can work out from the string tensions it is tuned G~D~A~E,. (well that is how I've tuned it but with 8 strings its actually Gg~Dd~AA~EE) It is quite large (nearly as long and the Mandocello, but with a much smaller body) and it does sound and play very well. It could do with new strings, but not desperately so I won't rush out and get new ones, but when I do I will probably go for the fourths tuning, partly to see what it sounds like but partly because I think it will be easier for me to play that way.

I tried and I tried...

posted 18 Apr 2017, 17:07 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 22 Apr 2017, 08:38 ]

G4M Harlem V 6/12 double neck Guitar
Rally Blizzard II
But in the words of the Borg, "resistance is futile".
I had the urge to invite a multi necked chordophone to Ukulele Corner incorporating the Pony Guitar Sanctuary. I don't know what they are like to play but they look like they are good to pose with, (and not having played one before I am curious about them). There aren't that many about though, and most of the ones I see for sale are Guitar based, (either a 6 string electric Guitar with another chordophone, Bass, Mandolin even Ukulele, or the 6 string plus another Guitar option, Baritone, 12 string, 7 string, even electric / acoustic). When I went looking though I couldn't find any real 2nd hand bargains; I did see a nice electric-acoustic but it was a bit expensive. So the only other option was to look at new and there are a few Chinese made and branded ones out there that are not that expensive, (so they are probably ponies; but it is the Pony Guitar Sanctuary) .The one I liked best was the Harlem V 6 /12 doubleneck, not quite a Gibson V copy, but still more distinctive than most (though for some reason only available in Black) The only problem, as far as I was concerned was that it was branded by Gear4Music with their naff name and even naffer logo - but I could always paint over it or try and remove it, (I have read you can do this with Brasso?) still it did put me off buying one straight away. I thought "Gear4Music are a big chain so there is no rush to get one. I could wait until I had a lottery win, or possibly see something better?" so I waited.
What I did find in the waiting period though, (and maybe this was a good thing?) was that I would see other Guitars and be a bit tempted, but would then think " do I like this more that the Harlem?" and decide not to buy. None of them were good 1 time offers though, (so I still might get a Squire Baritone Jaguar at some point in the future); none of them until I saw the Rally Hurricane IIAR with its distinctive body shape and the aluminium full body scratch plate. Now I know Rally Banjos are good but I'd never really looked at their Guitars; apart from anything else you do really get Rally Guitars in the UK.  I'd never seen one before and new that I would be unlikely to see one again, and that with the buy it now or best offer pricing it wouldn't be long before someone else saw it and bought it. As there was a Best Offer option I thought it was at least worth a cheeky bid. My first 2 offers were rejected but the seller then countered with a price that was slightly lower than what I was going to go to next, and a bit cheaper than the full asking price. I thought I had better buy it at this price but still had the "do I like it better than the Harlem?" quandry  I solved this quandary by deciding to buy it as well . After all I did win the lottery last week, (even though its win a free ticket, its still a win) and when these two turn up it will feel like I have won the lottery again.

They're Here!!

And the double neck is a bit of a beast! Well it's a lot of a beast actually and the Rally is a beast too. They are both quite heavy, clearly very solid and the shape is a little awkward. The Rally doesn't stand up very well and you have to be careful of the sharp corners of the metal. The Double Neck is not easy to play sitting down, particularly the 12 string neck and I am having trouble with the bridge pickup on the 12 string. I'm not entirely sure how you are suppose to switch between necks, it says on the publicity specifications the is a switch for this but I cant find one? I can get some switching between necks though, (though clearly only one at a time will play), if I tun down the volume on the 6 string neck the 12 string bridge pickup works and if I turn down the volume on the 12 string neck or switch to the neck pickup(?) the 6 string pickups work. If I leave both necks turned up, the one that was working last will work?? I have contacted the distributors about this and am waiting to see what they say, I had better not try and get rid of the Gear4Music logos yet though in case I have to send it back.
And in case I didn't make it clear the Rally works perfectly on all of the electrics - no worries there

Hold on! There's something odd going on here?

posted 11 Apr 2017, 16:45 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 18 Apr 2017, 16:44 ]

fIbanez GRG 7221 7 string Guitar
Thats right this Guitar has an odd number of strings; figuratively and literally, it's a 7 string Guitar!
To be exact its an Ibanez GRG-7221 with a limited edition white finish. It's one of those eBay auctions where I saw it and thought "that's still a bargain price and I would quite like a 7 string Guitar if it was to stay at a bargain price..." And it did!

And it's Here!

Already!! Super quick posting or what?
It is very clean with no big scratches or anything, the electrics all work properly and it does have a very wide but nicely radiused slim profile neck to accommodate the extra low B string, (It could also, and this must mean my guitar playing is improving, do with some new strings). Now it's here I'm not quite sure what to do with the extra string? I guess do with it what you do on the high B string which is fine on say a G chord as you do nothing on the high B but it seems quite a bit trickier on a D or an A and I'm not sure is even possible with an F? Well I can hunt down some 7 string chord diagrams, I can work on my scales and lead breaks  and I can pose like I'm Stevie Vai

This time I know...

posted 9 Apr 2017, 17:02 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 11 Apr 2017, 04:00 ]

(NJ) Oscar Schmidt Stella Banjolele
Exactly what I have invited - It's an original Oscar Schmidt Stella Banjolele that was made in New Jersey in the 1930's, (or maybe even the 1920's?) And...

It's Here

before I can even write the anticipation paragraph!
It is very nice and very light for a Banjolele. It's largely original though it does have some interesting new amber tuners on, (but a good job has been done of fitting them and the look very nice). It doesn't say Oscar Schmidt on the pole but there is no doubt in my mind. its clearly vintage and definitely not a Harmony from when they brought the Stella brand name. It's quite small as well as light, with a 336mm, (13¼ in), scale. It has a couple of metal bands around the drum to strengthen it which is how the drum wood is so thin and the Banjolele weighs so little. The one problem, and its not really a problem, is the previous custodian was left handed so I'm going to have to re string it the right (handed) way round before I can play it

Not quite sure what I've invited...

posted 7 Apr 2017, 17:05 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 16 Apr 2017, 09:26 ]

Perlgold 4 string Mandocello
It was listed in the auction as a "German Lute Guitar" , but I know its not one of those. German, yes: it is a Perlgold, which was the main post WWII branding of the German manufacturer Vogtlandsperle, but it has 4 strings not the 6 it would have if it was a Lute Guitar. I don't know the dimensions, but from the auctioneer saying Lute Guitar I assume that is bigger than standard Mandolin size. From the pictures I can see it has a flat back too, (which you don't get on Lutes or Lute Guitars) so my guess when I was bidding on it's a Mandola or a Mandocello, but with single string courses, (Mandola tuning and single strings doesn't that make it a Tenor Guitar? Possibly I suppose). Another option maybe is a Dorma, but they aren't usually flat backed and during the cold war I don't see much of a market.

Whatever it is, I decided to put in a very, very small opening bid, and come the day of the auction I forgot it! (well I remembered first thing in the morning but it was lot 735 and as they were starting from lot 1. I figured it wouldn't go through until 5pm ish. I didn't remember at 5 though and when I remembered at 6:30 it had already gone through). Despite forgetting it though my initial bid was accepted; and unopposed - so I had won it! And for a lot less than it is going to cost to post!!

Once it arrives I will be able to get some answers about it. Not least is "is that corner pattern after market, and can I get rid of it?

It's Here

and I know what it is now. It's a Project!
What it was originally, is an 8 string Mando Cello, however over the years it has lost it's tailpiece and 4 of the tuners, and is now strung as a short scale acoustic Bass. Now I would rather it was a Mando Cello and in order to achieve this I will have to replace the 4 missing tuners, (or possibly all 8 for the look of the thing?) Take off the piece of sheet metal that is currently there as an anchor for the strings and put a nice 8 string tailpiece on. Possibly replace the nut, (I'll know more once I have taken the string off and can see what is underneath). Possibly a new bridge? the one that is there is the original with an 8 string saddle so It might be OK, I will see once I take the strings off. Remove the horrible paint on the lower bout. Investigate what looks like some cracks by the bridge and work out what is going on under the pickguard thing below the sound hole. Then of course give it a good clean and restring it with proper Mando Cello strings so I can have a go at playing it. So not much then, barely a project at all.

I may have paid too much for this?

posted 29 Mar 2017, 16:18 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 6 Apr 2017, 09:22 ]

Canary Islands Timple
I say this because I've not been to the Canary Islands so I'm not sure of the prevalence and quality of Tourist level Timples, (because thats what it is) From the photos the front looks fairly basic and possibly pine? (though I do think the way the soundboard meets with the fretboard looks quite good). But the nicely shaped curved back looks like there might be some reasonable quality? The Timple is the Canary Islands equivalent of a Maderian Rajao and may well have become the basis for the Ukulele had the colonists come from Spain and not Portugal. As it is though, you don't really get them outside of the Canary Islands, but there it is a serious folk instrument and there are some very good luthiers making them, (but I assume like with Ukuleles from Hawaii there is some Tourist Tat made to be souvenirs. Well I'll find out more when it arrives at Ukulele Corner)

It's Here!!

and if this is sold as "tourist tat" there is a much better class of tourist on Tenerife than I suspected, this is pretty well made. The back is a lovely piece of work with a proper "Spanish Heel"and a solid soundboard, (still not sure if its spruce or pine though but it is soft. there are plenty of plectrum marks on it). There is a label in the soundhole that tells me, (in Spanish) that it was made especially for "La Casa la Guitarra" (the house of Guitars) in Santa Cruz. Now I have looked it up on the Internet and I can see that it is a proper music shop but I have found no information beyond that, there is no website for them. It has proper gauge Timple strings on, (though they don't feel particularly wonderful) and reflects the strange re-entrant Timple tuning G~c~E~A~D

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