Decorated south east european Banjolele

My Minstrel Boy

Soprano ukulele banjo with decorated back
standard Banjolele back resonator off
Resonator off
Soprano ukulele banjo with decorated resonator
It has fluorocarbon strings on and is tuned g~C~E~A
Banjolele resonator motif

banjo instrument boy girl decoration

with Resonator on

Minstrel Boy Resonator Banjolele

Well it's a Banjolele obviously but apart from that I don't know who made it, where it was made or when? Or even if it's original or a "Frankenstein" made up of parts? (but a lot of it does look like it fits together to well to be a frankenstein?). The seller has very little detail just that it was his Dads and has been up in the loft for years? The tuners have slot head screws which suggests it's older than 1970 but they don't look pre-war and the skin looks synthetic; but quite old? I don't recognise the headstock shape at all or the basic build and the metal fretboard and inlaid resonator are definitely different. I have only seen metal fretboards like that on US instruments; Globe Trufrets or Bee Jay Tivolis for example, but the design on the back looks more southern European, (and to be honest a little "artisan")? I came upon it very late in the auction, (2 hours to go), as it was badly listed bid a pound more, (as that was pretty much all I would go on it, (possibly more than I should; the "artisan" look, but it did look very unusual). This made me high bidder and no one else bid so now it's coming to Ukulele Corner where I can have a good look at it and see what I can find out. My guess at the moment is 60's; possibly Greece or Turkey, (maybe for the Cumbus factory but then it will be clearly labeled?) outside bet Portugal. Possibly more a tourist piece than a musical instrument, (but I hope not). We shall see when it gets here...

It's here now and I'm not really any the wiser? No makers mark or anything, and I've had the resonator off to check. The tuners are fairly modern; but are they original? my feeling at the moment is that it is not a "Frankenstein" and it is factory made, not by an individual; professional or otherwise, that it is fairly modern, (there is a date of 2006 written on it but no feeling that it's anything to do with the maker so could just be from a previous owner?) and it is very "artisan" in build quality, but things like the tone ring do make it appear to be more a musical instrument than just being a cheap tourist piece? It has a plastic skin that is quite probably aftermarket and does really need replacing, (as do the strings), Whatever the full story, it is very interesting and I shall look out for any further clues about its origins.

Having replaces the strings I have found the tone a lot better than I expected. The bridge that seen better days and the action is very low, (makes a change on a Banjolele) so it is different to play, finger picking is tricky and you miss the occasional strum but in the other hand its easy to barre and quite forgiving with the finger placement of chords. Miss Moo is determined that the figure on the back is a far eastern girl rather than a southern European/Arabian boy? I guess I will leave that to the viewer until I find out its actual origin, (even then the sex is likely to still be moot?)