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

This one is Guaranteed

posted 13 Oct 2017, 07:09 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 31 Oct 2017, 18:05 ]

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!

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 22 Sep 2017, 12:22 ]

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.

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

Enough Mystery Ukuleles...

posted 1 Sep 2017, 16:22 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 23 Oct 2017, 13:50 ]

kays MiJ semi-acoustic Guitar
Lets invite a mystery Guitar?
Now this was labeled as a Kay Audition on eBay but when I looked a bit more into the listing I found that the seller thought it looks like a Kay or Audition and that he doesn't know who the exact maker is? What he does know is that isn't the original finish, and that the tuners have been replaced. I have had a look at the vintage catalogues and it does look like a Kay; but not quite! The body shape and pick guard are identical to the 775 Jazz II but not the pickups, bridge, or tailpiece; plus the selector switch is in the wrong place There are a number of Kay models that do have this tailpiece though, but they are all single cut or no cut bodies. Though he says it's not the original finish I did see a finish very much like this as a standard finish (it was called Spring Green) in the 1956 catalogue and the pickguard looks right for both the Jazz II and the Swingmaster models so I think it is Kay made. Kay did make sme models for audition but I have only seen solid body models the is a Teisco made Audition that has some broad similarities but when you look closely it is clearly a different guitar. I'm still stuck as to exactly what model it is but I think it looks cool and I'm glad it's coming to Ukulele Corner incorporating the Pony Guitar Sanctuary

It's Here!

And I am still none the wiser as to who made it?
As I said before it got here it has some parts that appear to be the same as parts that appear on Kays in the catalogues ? The label in the ƒ hole is long gone so no information there Now I have seen a 1950's budget line Gretsch Corvette with a similar bridge tailpiece and pickups and I do know Gretsch has a similar green finish they call "Aspen Green" which they use a lot more than Kay did with Spring Green however the one I saw was not a cutaway (thought there are a lot of Gretsches that do have a very similar short horn double cut) single pickup and had dots as fret markers? I have also seen a 60's Italian made hollowbody from Davoli; similar but not the same so I shall have to keep looking.
What I do know now it is here though is that it's in fairly good nick with no cracks, splits or warps and that both pickups work with just a bit of a crackle if you turn the tone knob.

Go Large ...

posted 28 Aug 2017, 12:54 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 16 Oct 2017, 15:59 ]

K and K (of New York) Baritone
Barnes and Mullins the Gresse spruce spalt maple Tenor
It was one of those times when two eBay auctions ended fairly closely and I managed to win both of them! In both cases they were listed as "for parts only" so damaged, (but I've brought enough clunkers in the past).

The first, and coming from the US, is a 1960's K&K Baritone with no strings and a broken top brace. Well to be exact the brace from just below the sound hole has fallen out but the seller still has it so it's included in the sale and I just need to get in stuck back in, (and then restring it). It's not one of the K&K branded Favilla Baritones, but it is one of what I call the "Mystery Baritones". This is a model of Baritone that was sold in the US by a large number of distributors in the 60's and was apparently very good, but I don't know who was actually behind the making of them. Some of them were replacement models for a United Guitar Co made Baritone that looks a lot less well made and always has a "made in the U.S.A." stamp in the sound hole. This range doesn't so it almost certainly wasn't made by the United Guitar Co. It never has a "made in Japan" sticker on the back of the headstock either, and I have only ever seen them originally being sold in the U.S. so I'm not sure where they come from even? Maybe some of my questions will be answered when it gets here?

The other is a Chinese made spruce and spalted maple Tenor branded by Barnes & Mullins and called "the Gresse" this one is pretty much new and has only been out on display. The damage listed is that it has a bowed neck, (which is unlikely to be able to be straightened), but doesn't look that bad from the pictures of it taken side on. Barnes & Mullins Ukuleles are pretty reasonable quality, the Ukulele itself looks quite pretty and even if it is unplayable I can always have it for display; this is why I bid on it, (that and it had a very, VERY, VERY low starting point). So I put in the opening bid and, possibly because of the damage listed, no on else bid, so I ended up getting it for a lot less than it was going to cost me to ship, (and the shipping wasn't particularly expensive). All I can do now though is wait until it arrives so I can see how bad the neck is; hopefully not too bad.

They're Here

And I can't see anything wrong with the Barnes and Mullins?? I can see the main issue with the K&K as the seller has stuck the missing top brace onto the fretboard with sticky tape, and apart from that it all looks very sound even if it hasn't answered any of my questions about the actual maker? The is definitely no, and never was a, "Made in Japan" sticker on the back of the headstock nor is there any stamp saying Japan. There is no signs of any label or stamp inside the sound hole saying Japan, West Germany or anywhere else? All I can say about it at the moment is that it's build quality is very good, when I took it to the Ukulele Doctor to get the bracing sorted, he likened it, in terms of build quality, to his Favilla Baritone. Now I know Favilla did make some Baritones for K&K but this isn't one of them. I have a new set of Aquila Baritone strings, (that I received for Father Day), and I'm looking forward to putting them on, once it has been restored, and seeing how it sounds.

As to the Barnes and Mullins, I can't see a bow at all, I have checked the intonation on all strings and it is very good; probably no more than 5% out at any point. There is a bit of a scratch, more of a scuff on the upper left bout but that is the only thing that stops it being new, and fully justifying the retail price not the price I paid for it.


Another Oldie

posted 27 Aug 2017, 07:51 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 11 Sep 2017, 14:42 ]

pre-war Harmony Soprano
From Harmony this time; now I know I have already invited a few old Harmony Ukuleles but this one isn't a Supertone or branded by one of the Jobbers This one is a proper Harmony with a proper Harmony gold and red logo. Now I'm not sure when Harmony changed to the gold and green logo but I know they were using gold and red in 1928 when the Johnny Marvin came out. So no plastic fretboard on this one and I'm not sure of the quality or wood involved but the is a nice striping front and back, and not to much fixing up needed

Its Here

And I have seen a lot of newer Harmony s that were in a lot worse condition than this one! OK so it does have new tuners on but they don't look out of place (unless you go up really close and see the Phillips head screws), and It does have pretty naff strings (but they appear to be fairly new and they would be easy enough to replace anyhow) Apart from that there are no missing frets, no splits or cracks, not even any bad scratches and it has a very nice "dark tiger stripe" effect front and back. it would be nice to know when Harmony switched from the gold and red logo to the gold and green one so I could date it more accurately, (but I would like to know that anyway?) All in all this one is a fine veteran Ukulele and it's good to go. 

Yeee Haa!

posted 20 Aug 2017, 12:13 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 27 Aug 2017, 17:59 ]

Regal made Carson Robinson Cowboy Soprano
Its one of the original Cowboy Ukuleles. Carson Robison started out with Wendell Hall but went on to become one of the founders of the whole country music scene; and he was also an endorsee for Montgomery Ward. MW started selling Carson Robison branded Guitars made by Regal in 1930 and went on with a number of different variants, (and a change of manufacturer to Gibson), until 1941. During this time there was a Regal made Tenor Guitar for a couple of years and from 1936-40 there was a Regal made decorated Soprano Ukulele, (alas, they never got Gibson to make the Ukuleles)

It's Here!

and for an 80 odd year old Ukulele the graphics are in remarkably good shape. There is a bit of seam splitting at the base and it looks like the bridge has been reglued at some point but apart from that, and needing new strings, it is a fine example of a pre war Ukulele and very welcome at Ukulele Corner

If at first you don't succeed...

posted 13 Jun 2017, 08:11 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 13 Oct 2017, 08:32 ]

Authentic Venezuelan Cuatro

Well "Give Up" is my usual mantra, but in this case what I have invited is an authentic Cuatro Venezuelo all the way from Caracas.
I did try to get one a while ago but it never arrived; if it was ever shipped? Well I've decided to try again and this time for one with a cutaway; I've never seen one with a cutaway before. I think this one is fairly mass produced as the seller said he had 3. (and I did see what appeared to be someone else? selling something that looked identical) I'm sure the factory that made in is in Caracas, Venezuela though and I will find out more when it gets here.
Bandola de Venezuelao

Well it's still not here!! But being the sucker that I am I have now also invited a real Bandola de Venezuela coming from Carcass too When I did this I thought I was going through a different Venezuelan distributor, (clearly they were made by the same firm), but it turns out it's the same one just using different names, (which is never a good sign). The only plus at the moment if the Bandola is being shipped through DHL whereas the Cuatro was shipped through Fedex so maybe it will turn up?

Hopefully they both will, but with no tracking information it has to be soon for the Cuatro

Well the Cuatro has arrived but thanks to Fedex careful handling the bass side and half the bottom have been completely smashed in taking a lump off the soundboard  too! I have taken the carcass to the Ukulele doctor but he doesn't think it is repairable - a pity because I can see that it was well made and would have been a nice instrument if it hadn't been smashed.
And Fedex have the gall to send me an invoice for importing it including an admin fee  - well they can take a fat run

the state of play now though is the chap that sold it to me agrees that it wasn't packed sturdily enough, (but that doesn't let Fedex off from their vandalism) and says he will send me another once the Bandola arrives

the Bandola is here!

And Fedex haven't covered themselves in glory again! Whilst it is nowhere near as destroyed as the Cuatro there are a number of bumps on it; and maybe a small crack in the back? The instrument itself is definitely different, not just the odd (but very lovely) pear shape but it is a very bassy due to the odd E~A~D~G tuning I am using (well I say odd but its the same tuning as a Bass Guitar?) It makes for odd chording too as its the other two strings of a guitar thats missing, so I know the shapes but keep looking for the B and e strings

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