Leonardo Bellini Soprano ukulele

What a lovely Golpeador

italian pre war decorated Soprano Ukulele
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leonardo Bellini pressed bowl backed soprano Ukulele
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L bellini decorated Soprano Ukulele
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Topless girl holding Leonardo Bellini Soprano at Lardy's Ukulele Database

What a lovely...
I want to know more about the history!

I have put a set of Hilo strings on it and tuned g~C~E~A

I'm not a fan of Hilo Strings so I might replace them





Leonardo Bellini

I don't know very much about the history of my Leonardo Bellini. It was an ebay win, like all of my pre loved Ukuleles, and the seller didn't have any information beyond the obvious - its made by Leonardo Bellini of Naples, (it says so on the soundboard!) I'm guessing its pre WW2 because I haven't seen any Italian Ukuleles like this that are post war? But I don't know this for sure and when I looked the maker up on the Internet I could find nothing on him. To the Ukulele itself - It came with mismatched wooden friction tuners all of which looked like Violin pegs and slightly too big for the holes, Since they weren't a set and I didn't think they looked original anyway I have replaced them with a modern set of friction tuners. The nut is original and the way it has been cut means that the strings have to go straight up into the headstock and this in turn means they come onto the tuners from different sides - adds to the fun when tuning! It also didn't have a saddle when it came - I am unsure whether this type of setup is suppose to have a floating bridge as a saddle but the addition of one here certainly improved the tone and volume making me think it should. I have used an old Banjolele bridge sanded down so it doesn't make the action too high. I would like to know what the original setup was though, and what the original bridge looked like, (I think the anchor bridge has been re-glued at some point?)

The back has been pressed into a fairly substantial bowl so there is a little of the tendency toward a Mandolin in manufacture but it is all very well put together and all of the inlay work, (yes the flowers on the golpeador are inlay not paint or decal as is the decoration around the sound hole), is very well done. Its all in such good condition that there is a doubt in my mind that it is pre WW2 however with the inlay and the history of Italian manufacture it is only a very small doubt. I think losing its floating bridge meant it didn't sound very good so previous owners didn't play it and this is the cause of its condition. Nevertheless I would like to know more about the maker, (and the rest of the Ukuleles history after finding the picture of the nice young lady! for example is she holding this one or did Leonardo make a number of them with similar golpeadors)?

I have seen 3 or 4 other Ukes marked as Leonardo Bellini now, all with a pretty much identical, (so much so that it makes me think factory?) golpeadors. I have even seen, what form the photos, looks like an identical Ukulele but with a G. Puglisi label inside and no stamp at the bottom? What all of these other photos, (including the young lady above), show me for certain, is that this is meant to be a saddleless bridge and shouldn't have a seperate floating bridge, and that sadly, the young lady is not cradling mine, (no stamp at the bottom).

In researching Leonardo Bellini further, I have still not found any written references to him or his workshop. I have found enough other chordophones bearing his name, (Mandolins, Guitars and Banjos as well as Ukuleles), to suggest he was either very prolific, or there was some sort of factory production? Now G Puglisi Reale i Figli are well documented as an instrument manufacturer and are reputed to be the biggest manufacturer in Italy at the beginning of the 20th century. This makes me suspect that there was possibly something similar to what was going on with some of the Spanish production at the time? That is, UK particularly, distributors wanted their products to be differentiated from the competition but still look authentic, so getting the manufacturers to put their own local sounding brand name, and no reference to the actual maker on their orders. This would explain why I can find no references to Leonardo; because he didn't exist? (it would also explain why I have seen the same Italian patent mark on the back of some Puglisi branded chordophones)