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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.