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

A suspicion confirmed

posted 10 Jul 2017, 16:05 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 13 Jul 2017, 06:18 ]

Cold War Musima Soprano
It has always seemed odd to me that the post war East German musical instrument manufacturing conglomerate, (that was reputed at one point to be the largest instrument maker in the world for a while?) made Banjoleles for themselves and for a number of other people, (including J.E.Dallas and B&J), along with all of the other things; Guitars, Mandolins, Banjos, Violins, Woodwind, Brass, Pianos, Drums, percussion and the like,but didn't make standard wooden Ukuleles. Up until now I had never seen or heard of one though. Possibly because like a lot of the Musima output, they were unbranded and fairly nondescript, and with the sharks tooth tuners that I haven't seen on German made Ukuleles before, I would have thought that this was a Japanese Ukulele of the period. I know this is Musima made though because it comes with the original Musima paperwork and when I saw it on ebay I knew I would make a serious effort to bring it to Ukulele Corner so I could study it further and bid possibly more that an instrument of (from the photos) this quality. I needn't have worried to much though as no-one else was willing to overpay for it so I did get it for a sensible price and now it's on the way to Ukulele Corner.

It's Here

Along with its guarantee paperwork and an old songbook. The Guarantee is nice and says the Ukulele left the factory in 1970 , the old songbook is a piece of crap and I don't know any of the songs

Clunker time again

posted 4 Jul 2017, 16:30 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated ]

Cole and Dundas Marigolds Soprano
I'm not 100% sure who made or marketed this Ukulele but I'm a sucker for perloid and I did like the marigold decals so I put in the opening bid as it was still fairly cheap. I thought I would be outbid because at some point because it was quite pretty and cheap, (especially if it didn't need shipping across the pond), but no one else bid? Maybe because it is a bit of a clunker and is going to need some work done on it. there is a noticeable crack in the back and most of the frets are missing, (in fact there are only 4 left - I think it will probably be better to remove the original 4 and completely re-fret it), and as is often the case with this sort of clunker, there may be other problems that I haven't noticed? 

Having invited it I thought I would do a bit more research into its origins. It is superficially unmarked and at first, (when I bid on it), I thought it was a Harmony; after all it's definitely not a Regal, but when I looked more carefully it clearly wasn't a Harmony either. After comparing the photos with other Chicago makers, (I'm pretty sure its Chicago made), my best bet now is that it was made by Richter for one of the local distributors, probably Targ & Dinner or possibly even Cole & Dunas before T&D took them over. I'm hoping I will know more once it gets here (Richter sometime stamped their name inside the ukulele at the neck block and I hope I will find this?) but I'll have to wait and see. 

It's Here

And it is as experienced as the pictures suggested! there are the frets, (or lack of them), the split in the back, and on top of that the end seam has come apart, taking with it the top and the bottom joints at this point so the whole bottom will have to be reglued. What it doesn't have though is any internal stame saying Richter or anything else? As it is here though I can directly compare it most of the contemporary Chicago makers and it is different from all of them in dimensions, bridge design, heel shape and the like so we come back to the makers I haven't got, Globe,  Richter or something completely new to me? Things like the decals and the perloid make me thing it is not from a small maker and the design still looks more like Richter to me comparing it to Known Richter photos so I stick with that until I find anything further either way; but I'll keep looking...

And I don't even think he's Funny

posted 27 Jun 2017, 10:05 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 7 Jul 2017, 14:53 ]

Emenee Jimmy Durant Hot Cha Cha plastic Soprano
Jimmy "Schnoz" Durante that is, but when I saw his endorsed "Ho Cha Cha" Ukulele from Emenee in, (from the photos and the description), immaculate  condition I, despite what I have said in the past about not getting any more plastic Ukuleles, thought at that low starting price it's worth a punt. To be honest I wasn't going to go much higher than the starting price, but as is sometimes the case, no one else bid so my initial bid won. Of course, as it's coming from Trumpton postage and import tax put the price up a bit so I hope it is as immaculate as the seller said

It's Here

and it is every bit as immaculate as they said. The action is a bit high but I don't know if it was made that way or there has been a little warping of the neck over the years? Apart from that its probably in as good a condition as any plastic ukulele of the period I have ever seen. The strings on it are new but don't look the greatest of quality so I may replace them later but that would be my only other comment on the quality

If at first you don't succeed...

posted 13 Jun 2017, 08:11 by Lardy Fatboy

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

Now I can spell it...

posted 8 Jun 2017, 10:38 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 21 Jun 2017, 10:16 ]

Ecorda Bouzouki
I thought I should get more Bouzoukis
What I have invited this time is a heavily decorated, bowl backed, Greek made Bouzouki that is branded Ecorda. 

It's Here!

And its very impressive to look at. There are a couple of chips if you look up close and it really needs some new strings but it is very striking. I also like the straightness of the neck even though there is no truss rod. It may have cost 6 times as much to ship as I bid on it but I did get that part very cheap and I think it is still worth it

Another Obscure American Ukulele Brand

posted 1 Jun 2017, 15:43 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 27 Jun 2017, 09:42 ]

Victor brand Soprano
And this time one that even I don't know about?!
This is a Victor Ukulele and all I know, (beyond the specific it's not in the best of condition and needs a little love), is that it is a U.S. mainland made Ukulele from between the wars. The advert says it's made of koa but I will reserve judgement on that until I've seen it "up close and personal". Where in the U.S. it was made I havent a clue? Or exactly when? But I would guess it was pretty early, from the first half of the 1920's. Now it's coming I will step up my research on the brand, and hopefully when it gets here it will be able to tell me something too.

Right now there are some "difficulties"  about it going through Customs, (or alternatively not putting my address on it and just shipping it to Kentucky). I do hope it still gets here though

It's Here

And for all it's looking a bit beat up, it is a much better quality than I was expecting. Yes it needs new tuners and something needs to be done about the bridge, but there are no cracks, all the frets are there and I think its solid Koa, (well the body at least) there is a sound hole label but the middle is missing so I have to guess the middle word; it starts with a H and ends with a an.  So it says Victor Brand,  H_____an, Ukulele and there is no other information about its original maker. So far I have found nothing on Victor Brand Ukuleles but I will keep looking, (along with fixing the bridge and fitting new tuners)

The weekend roundup

posted 27 May 2017, 16:41 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 5 Jun 2017, 15:07 ]

60's Archtop Guitar
Revelation RTJ-60B Baritone Guitar
Cas Mir Bandurria
Its been quite a busy weekend with quite a few lots finishing on eBay and a couple of physical auctions going on and had I got them all I would have had to put the credit card into intensive care, (as it is it still took a bit of a beating)
First to be invited was a 1960's sunburst (possibly) archtop acoustic Guitar that came from an auction. Now when I first saw it I liked the look of the ƒ foles and the overall look of one of those 1950's German archtops that I like. There wasn't much about it the description just read "an acoustic Guitar" and a couple of fairly poor pictures. Having liked what I could see I signed up and put a very (very) small opening bid on it and then started going through the rest of the catalogue to see if there was anything else worthwhile. There wasn't. this was the only chordophone, but by the time I had finished looking I had forgotten that I had bid on it so I never asked for any more information like if it was a proper archtop and what the logo on the headstock said? Having forgotten that I had bid on it I didn't watch the Saturday auction and only found out when I was looking at what some guitars in another auction went for; even before the auction started. No point asking all the questions now though I will just wait until it gets to Ukulele Corner and find out then how lucky I was.

After that it was all ebay and having come second on a couple of invitations, it was time for a Fernandes Baritone Guitar with a 27" scale. Unfortunately, despite having been winning for five days I was outbid at the death, but in telling me I had lost it also suggested a couple of other Guitars I might be interested in one of which was a Fender Modern Player, (so Chinese made) Stratocaster, collection only but only 10-15km away, still under £100 and with only 5 hours left on the auction. Now I wasn't sure of the quality of the Modern Player range? were they better than Squires? were they better than MiM's? So I left ebay and did some research; and while I was away a couple more of the items I had bid on, (but stopped watching because I was thinking about getting a cheap Fender), and was winning went through. With the Cort Guitar I was outbid at the death but the other one was a Spanish made Cas-Mir Bandurria that I had put the opening bid on because I love the stumpiness of Bandurrias, and up to that point no one else had bid. And while I was off looking at Chinese Fenders still no one bid so my opening bid for this won. Now I am not sure of the quality of the Cas-Mir Bandurrias, when I did some investigation of them all I found was a couple of people (including the seller of this one) who brought them back from Spain as souvenirs; so maybe tourist tat but they didn't play so I had no serious reviews. Once again I will know a lot more once it gets here?

The other guitar that ebay recommended after the Fernandes was a Revelation Baritone that is kind of a cross between a Jazzmaster and a Bass VI This was a couple of quid more than my maximum for the Fernandes but only a couple of quid; and it was a 30" scale rather than a 27" (and the bigger the better as far as I was concerned) This one only had 3 hours left on the auction and up to that point no one had bid. Now I had seen the same model of guitar with as buy it now price £6 less than the opening price for this, and toyed with the idea of getting that one but I thought it was too much well this one was probably too much too but still stinging with the loss of the Fernandes, and justifying the asking price because the Pickups and the tuners had been upgraded, (and the scratchplate had been painted white - though I'm not sure that was an improvement?) I said yes to the opening asking price (after all its not much of a problem to strip the white paint off the scratchplate if it does look bad) and it stayed there until it accepted the invitation to Ukulele Corner incorporating the Pony Guitar Sanctuary

 I did bid on the Fender in the end but that ended up going for a sensible price for a Fender, so a lot more than I was willing to pay

They're Here!!

And in their way they have answered all of my questions about them.

The Mystery Archtop is an Egmond (made for J.T.Coppock ltd.) Antoria. This has some interest as the Antoria branding was much more famously used on some of the early Japanese imports to the UK and much of the information on the Internet about them says this was when it started, not realising that prior to the Japanese imports Egmond was supplying them, (but the most of this information also says that Coppock went out of business, not that in 1965 it amalgamated with two other UK distributors to form Fletcher, Coppock and Newman; so much for their research!) Anyway on to the Guitar and as well as answering the questions I had it poses a couple more, like what is the sticky stuff that is all over it? (Maybe I don't want to know that). Did it come with nylon strings, as it has them now? And was the bridge suppose to be like it is or is the lower part an aftermarket extra? Regardless of this, what is surprising though is the tone! It is much, much better than I was expecting, (so good that I will stick with the nylon strings - I may fiddle with the bridge though) I have always been put off by the look of Egmond Guitars, I always thought they looked rather crude and cheap, but on the basis of this one I will have to look at them again. Yes it's not the best looking 50's Archtop, (and yes it is an archtop for the answer to that question) but it's overall tone and playability is spectacular and it's very welcome at Ukulele Cornerincorporating the Pony Guitar Sanctuary

Carrying on with the Homemade Theme

posted 21 May 2017, 16:36 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 27 May 2017, 04:15 ]

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 for 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.

It's Here

and I still can't work out what the box originally was? What I can say though is it is very solid and the neck is very nicely carved; far better than I could have made. on the minus side, that very solid soundboard is very thick, I'm guessing it was originally the bottom of the box. The nut is also very high too and solidly glued to the end of the fretboard so I cant remove it and file down the base to get the right action; and the action is currently VERY high. It is also very quiet and a little plain, (I may have to break out the Sharpies or get some king of interesting label to stick on?)I do like it though, it does very much have the "look I wanted; and the "vibe", (and it stands up nicely on its base - which is always handy)

There was a big Banjo auction today

posted 18 May 2017, 15:56 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 2 Jun 2017, 15:41 ]

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.

They're Here!

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

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