Monday, 17 October 2016

The dream turns to reality!

After many years restoring and collecting some of the finest vintage Banjoleles, I will be at the Thirsk Guitar & Uke show.

I will have a whole range of ukes available for beginners and serious collectors too.

With Prices ranging from £100 to several thousands I hope to have something for everyone.

I will also be selling strings, vellums and also have my extensive spare part list.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Stromberg Voisinet. Made in Chicago.

Made in the USA in the 1920's to 30's in Chicago.
I don't know a great deal about this maker. if you do please feel free to comment.
The resonator design really stands out. Notice it shining in the light.

What i do know is that these ukes are well made and great looking. And play and sound fantastic!
A classic USA made instrument, with that clear, crisp tone to match.

These ukes are quite underated. Could be the rarity of them in the UK. I have only come across a few of them previously.

This model has a tone ring fitted around the edge of the pot. And 16 tension hooks and a fantastic resonator flange complete the look. Its well made with a 5 piece neck too!
All shiny & new with re-plated metal.

I had to replace the resonator plate on this uke. Sadly the original was quite damaged. It is quite a simple affair, a round flat piece of wood with the heavy plated flange sitting on top of the wood.
The resonator is attached via a simple bolt. The flat plate resonator makes this uke very comfortable to hold.
The replacement resonator plate, simple design as was the original. it does match better in the flesh!

The look is complete with a transfer around the pot, and Grover tuners.
This uke actually stands out as a Stromberg that has no Pearloid (MOTS) on it at all.
Almost all the others i  have seen usually have fretboards and pegheads covered in that magical shiny stuff!
The "bling" resonator gives this uke all the sparkle and shine it needs.
Simple but Bling.Stoppers and a bolt hold it in place.
One fact about this uke. They are sometimes called Buster Brown, after a comic strip cartoon character. Used to sell shoes in Sears stores. A transfer of the characters was put onto the vellum. it was also used on the shop windows as advertising material.
This info i found on this great site The Banjo Ukulele Haven.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Ron Beddoes "Gibson ub-2 style"

Ron Beddoes, a small scale maker began making banjo ukes in the early 1970's.
I believe this to be one of his early models. Based on the classic Gibson ub-2.

14 tension hooks on a very solid, well made pot. The uke is so very well made, a sign of Ron's excellent workmanship, due to him being a retired engineer. It does remind me of my "Ken Timms" instruments. Also excellently engineered.

The tailpiece is not a standard design, looks almost to have been hand crafted.
And the bezel has notches in the top for the hooks to sit. Similar to the Dallas ukes.

Pleasantly chunky 3 piece neck, very thick fretboard. This model has a zero-fret fitted. The tuners are decent quality friction tuners, the same ones usually found on later Dallas-D&E's.

The veneer on the resonator and around the pot is in very good order with a clear grain showing.

Finally the case looks to be original too. Very retro 70's look to it! Red padded velvet lined inside, although its not a snug fit for the uke.
The uke is for sale, and is listed below on Andy Eastwoods's excellent site.
Gibson ub-2 Style

Superb Original condition

Chunky Retro hard case

Unusual design tailpiece

Slight wear on tailpiece, only mark on the whole instrument

"New Concert" by Ron Beddoes

Thursday, 8 May 2014

4 Ludwig "Wendell Hall" Banjo Ukes!!!

At present I have 4 of these brilliant ukes, and when i looked at them i thought it'd make an interesting post.

There are 4 of them, and each one different. You know that the "crown cut" models had lots of variations in the finish, and the "Wendell Hall" (from now on i shall name WH, as it'll save me about 1000 words!)
had a few subtle distinctions.

They seemed to have different models of tuning pegs used too. Black or White Grover pegs, Eltons, again in different colours. Probably some decent geared pegs went on too.

And the band of inlay around the bottom of the resonator. Ive seen Black & Cream lines. The transfer seems to be the same pattern around the pot, and the peghead decal is the same with the gold writing.

Now on the back of the resonators there are a few that pop up with a lovely transfer on the back of the resonator, or is it inlaid?. The polished up American Walnut looks fantastic as it is.
On one of these ukes i had stripped down the old cracked finish and french polished the back. It looks stunning!

Starting 1st Left,
Sunburst finish, with white Grovers. It had been badly set up.

2nd, My own instrument. i am the second owner, it was bought from new in Chicago. Then after the war it was packed away in excellent condition. Fitted with Black tuners which are the same as on some of the Gibsons, not the common Grovers, but another style. Has a white stripe round the resonator.

3rd, A uke restored by me. it was in terrible shape when i bought it, and it still shows signs of heavy use.
I thought it was like a blank canvas as i had to strip it so far back. so i decided to give it a bit of a custom finish. Obviously gold plated, which i did myself. it looks very good in the flesh. New tuners fitted as it had very battered white Eltons on it. And a Black stripe round it. I'm hoping to get a transfer for the resonator too. The wood was finished with many coats of Tru-oil giving it that great finish, which i prefer.

4th, Another restored by myself. This one is in excellent condition, apart from a tiny bit of transfer missing, it looks perfect. All original chrome, apart from the armrest which has been re-plated.
Black Elton tuners, and a Black stripe round the pot. A fantastic sounding uke!
1st to 4th Left to Right.

4th is closest to camera

My own uke on the Right, notice the different nuts too

Dark woodstain "Sunburst" on the right, and the White stripes

See these 2 have the Black stripe round the pot.

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!

Advertised here

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