Saturday, 15 March 2014

Metal plating Ukes. Gold, Chrome, Nickel

As part of my restorations i wanted to learn how to re-plate the metals.

it does involve a lot of effort, certainly more than i realised.

My first one was a gold plated Ludwig, shown previously on my blog.

I am now listed on the gold plating guild, and can offer plating services for Uke repairs in various finishes.
contact me through the blog for more info

Ludwig bolts getting gold plated

My wife's jewelry was silver plated

Gold plated Ludwig

more prep!

the finished article

Unique Gold Plated Ludwig Wendell Hall

Here we have a very special instrument.
Gold plated with 24k Gold, gives a stunning effect.
A one of a kind special!

I bought this uke and it was in a very poor condition. Some one had given it a coat of varnish with a brush!

The uke was stripped back to the natural wood, and then re-finished in my usual style with Tru-oil. It has a slight shine, and the wood grain is clear to see.

All the metal work was quite tarnished and worn so i decided to gold plate. I'm pretty new to gold plating, and i'd say its not perfect. But it does look very good.

New tuners were fitted, of course i gold plated those too! i even gold plated all the screws to complete the look.
This Ludwig has a black edging round the pot. My other has a white stripe.

Once the calf skin vellum was fitted, the uke went back together. These Ludwig's always fit back together very well. A sign of the quality of construction.

The sound is as clear as any other Ludwig i have played. The fretboard does show some wear, and the decal on the headstock is slightly worn, but i thought it added character leaving it as it is.

A lot of hours work, but a very satisfying uke to restore, and now for sale!

What a Mess!

De-tarnished metal work

Now gold plated

Re-finished wood with Tru-oil

Almost done!

The light shines off the gold

A custom finish, one of a kind!

And alongside my original Wendell Hall

Saturday, 14 December 2013

a Homemade cigar-box Guitar!

i know its not a Ukulele, and its hasnt been restored!
But...i built it from a kit with Chickenbone John at one of his fantastic workshops.

It plays really well, even has a pick-up installed and sounds amazing!

It starts with a roughly cut neck, and a cigar box. The neck has to be fitted into the box.
The electrics are installed, string it up and thats it!!

if you want one, get in touch with John at

Heres the bare bones of it

Frets are glued in place (its a piece of paper, glued to the neck)

Thats it finished. how amazing is that?

Me & John

Gibson UB-4

The Gibson UB-4.

The concert scale version. Only bettered by the gold plated UB-5.

Made from Walnut, with inlaid peghead & fretboard. Diamond cut out flange around the resonator.

Quite a heavy uke, probably similar in weight to a Ludwig.

When i received the uke it was in a worn condition, with the expected corrosion to the metal parts. It also had a very high action, which i suspected there might be a problem!

Once the uke was stripped down, i had the hooks & bezel re-plated. The woodwork was polished and given a coat of tru-oil. There were 2 small cracks on the resonator, these were professionally repaired.

These Gibson ukes have an internal tone ring, which sits on top of the pot. Made from solid brass i think, so that was polished up and a new calf skin vellum was fitted.

When i put the uke back together i remembered the high action, and on close inspection i found that the screw which goes into the neck and attaches to the metal pole in the pot was loose.
So i was unable to get a good tight fixing with the neck at the right angle.
Once the screw was fixed tight, i was able to attach the neck to the pot, feed the perch pole through and tighten it enough to set the angle just right.
Some folk shove all sorts of bits down the back of the neck to create an angle. With this high quality, well built Gibson there was no need.
I choose GHS clear strings, and once they went on i could set up the instrument.

Playing the uke is a joy. It has a very clear, crisp tone. As you would expect from a Gibson.
I found that when played gently it brought out the tone even more, but it was also very well suited to playing Formby style. Then it came across very powerfully, but was still clear.

A very satisfying uke to restore, beautifully cut wood, with stunning looks.

Quite possibly the daddy of Banjoleles?
Almost ready to put back together! really want to hear how it sounds

Heres the perch pole, it tightens to adjust the angle of the neck

Notice the fabulously Art-Deco inlays

Complete with original case

look at the grain in the wood!

All finished!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Maybell-Slingerland model 24

Another of my favourite ukes.

Made by the Slingerland drum company in Chicago, probably between 1920-30.

These are very well made instruments. Made for professionals, they have a great tone. They really have that USA sound. A very underated manufacturer.

i think this is the third one of these i have done. See if you can find the others on the blog!

As for the restoration, i stripped back the old finish (apart from the decal on the headstock, see picture) Then re-finished with tru-oil. The hardware has been re-chromed, new tuners and a nut were needed. Then completed with a calf skin vellum & GHS clear strings.

Check out the bizarre painted vellum!

16 Tension hooks give excellent tone

Perfectly set action

8.5 inch vellum, with fitted Brass tone-ring

Notice how we left the original decal

Look at the grain in the wood!

Stamped Slingerland 24

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Banjo ukes for Christmas

Ok, who do you know who wants a banjo uke for Xmas???

I currently have a few on offer, with ukes to suit every budget. And for every player, from beginner to serious "Formby" player.

i can offer beginners tuition, and lots of advice too on what to buy, and what NOT to buy!

feel free to get in touch for more info

Slingerland Maybell model 24 EDIT! or so i thought! its NOT a 24, so what is it?

Heres another Slingerland. One of my favourite brand of ukes.

These ukes were made from the 1920's onwards. This one is an early one, confirmed by the wooden dowel wedged in the perchpole.
I have fitted a flatback resonator to complete the look, as i believe this model had a resonator.

Its made from maple, looks to have been stained. I stripped most of the stain away to leave a nice effect of the grain showing through the stain.

Fitted with 16 tension hooks and Gibson UB-1 style shoes. These have been re-chromed, along with the bezel as they were in a poor state when i received it.

Plays very well, nice and comfy to hold, very sweet sounding uke with the right amount of volume.

I fitted new tuners, new vellum & GHS strings