George la Foley roundbody circa 1933

My La Foley Roundbody
17 Frets to the body

Unusually for a Mini this doesn't sound better tuned high so I'm leaving it g~C~E~A and it has Martin strings

George La Foley Soprano

My La Foley Soprano
12 frets to the body

George (L.A.) Foley Round Body

George La Foley was a London luthier working in the 1920's and early 30's. I'm not sure how big the firm was, whether it was just him, him and a team, or a whole factory? What I do know is he made Guitars and Mandolins as well as Ukuleles and everyone says they were amongst the finest British made Ukuleles of the time.

I had not seen any other Round bodied La Foley's before, (I have since - this isn't the only one), so when this one came up I thought I'd have a punt given the reputation and oddity - and I got it. It has been about a bit, (the back shows this) and I think the tuners are modern replacements but it is basically sound, the frets are a little sharp with age shrinkage but not so bad as I'll try dressing them. (However my good friend Fat Mullet Slim did a fine job of dressing them for me - thanks man)

The design itself is interesting, the body is bigger than the Blue Comet but not as big as the Mahalo, and it is, by my reckoning, just too short for a Soprano scale. However with 17 frets to the body it has a long neck for a Mini, (then or now); I have seen long neck Superminis elsewhere and not knowing what George had in mind when he was making it, I'll go with that as a scale length.

Sound wise, its not perhaps as great as I was hoping. It is tricky to get right and getting it wrong makes it sound very ordinary to out of tune. The frets are quite high, (maybe due to shrinkage?) so the intonation isn't great. But sometimes I get it right and it does sound quite good.