These are cool little instruments, and small. Most of mine are the sopranos. I’ll get some pictures and add them to this post tomorrow when the light is better. I’ll take some pictures of my 103 year old Martin and my Kapasa custom, Keven built for me.
This is one of the first ones I got when I was fixing and restoring them. It’s how I got started in instrument repair. It all started when I got fed up with the strings on my Ashbory bass always being broken and traded it for a Flea Market Flea, a great take to the beach or throw it in the saddlebags instrument.
This Gumby deader uke is probably from the 40s or 50s.
Thanks, it is, and the volume of this thing is insane. I had the Flea Market Flea in the saddle bags on the Harley as I was heading down to Key Largo. Saw a bunch of my motorcycle buddies stopped at the Last Chance Saloon, last stop before leaving the mainland.
I had stopped drinking alcohol a year of so before, but I went into the bar to see what my friends were up to. I took the uke in with me. I was BSing with them as I played the uke. The woman working the package store comes out to listen to me play, she’s Skeeter’s daughter, he owns the place . She said I should have her Grandmother’s ukulele. She said it was an old Martin.
A few days later I head back to the bar to pick it up. Early afternoon sun beating down, I saw it roasting in the back seat of her car, wrapped in a towel. I go into the package store and she comes out to get the uke. She thinks its worth some money, I told her let me take it home, check it out and see what it’s worth. She tells me the story of her grandmother, she said Grandma purchased it at a Southern California fair in 1917, she played it all her life, it’s a sound she remembered when visiting her grandmother, as a young girl, and grandma was her inspiration to start playing the guitar. I had played some bass for her previously for a recording of her original songs and had set up her new guitar as favor. We talked about its fair market value and settled on setting up her other 4 guitars. I also included a custom hand tooled guitar strap and $100.00 as well.
It did have a problem though. I didn’t notice it initially. There was a buzz on a few notes. I tapped the top checked the bracing, man was it elusive. I couldn’t find it.
I was mentioning the problem to a friend at work, I was a tech in Bio-Medical Engineering. He loaned me a colonoscopy scope, light source and interface to hook it up to my TV. I found the problem, it was a loose brace but not so loose that it was an easy find. Apparently a gecko had been living in it and its crap was semi holding the brace snug but not fastened. I made a tool to get at it and clean it up, similar to the type I make for building Ships in Bottles. I got it cleaned out, opened the space enough to get the glue applied using a oil painting palette knife, with zip tied bolts and a scavenged powerful magnet from an old Hamilton Ventilator, I was able to clamp the brace while the glue cured “o)
Post by rok-a-bill-e on Jan 26, 2020 23:37:48 GMT -5
Even the cheap ones can sound surprisingly good. I bought two as gifts for my wife and son, who do not play anything, paid a little over $100 for the pair, and really enjoyed the sweet tones from them.
Post by archiestone on Jan 31, 2020 21:43:24 GMT -5
I own: -Sears/Roebuck Baritone, 60s, all mahogany, as toneful as any Martin I've heard. -Pono Tenor, all mahogany, purchased while touring the Pono factory in Honolulu, couldn't resist, too good for me. -Johnson Soprano, all mahogany, fairly cheap and toneless, most think it's a toy (it almost is.)
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” ― Aldous Huxley
I have a small Martin ukulele, similar to Hushnels, but i think it may be post WW 2 vintage. I haven't really learned much on it as the tuning is unfamiliar to me. It has a music book and nylon strings. I tightened a tuning peg to hold tuning, and the tone strumming it brings to mind sitting under palm trees on the beach, very relaxing! Should i replace the strings? Any brand recommendations? Thanks...
The tuning is similar the guitar with a capo at the fifth fret on the four treble strings, G.C.E.A. generally the “G” is tuned an octave higher. Called re-entrant tuning. I have Aquila strings on a few of them. Nice strings.
Post by StoryTeller on Jul 29, 2020 15:57:49 GMT -5
I never thought much about ukuleles until I married into a family with Hawaiian members. Oldest nephew was to marry a Hawaiian woman, with the ceremony on a "military" beach south of Lanikai. I stood in the ocean taking photos from behind the reverend. We spent a week in Lanikai, seeking out Oahu fun then a week on the Big Island -- both in Hilo and in Captain Cook in B&Bs. When we visited the (then new) mall attached to the Royal Hawaiian, there was an ukulele shop. The sales people were worse than uneducated used car salesmen. Pushed a $600+ uke (over many under $200 ones on display) without explaining what made a Kamaka worth three times a Kala or other brand/model. I didn't bother trying one out before we left. When we were in Hilo, the B&B had a few local business cards in the common room, one for a guitar/uke shop. It was across the street from the weekly Tuesday farmers' market, so we checked it out. Turning off the main road onto the street where the market and guitar shop were, we saw a sign on a furniture store advertising musical instruments. We went to the guitar shop first. A couple about our age were asking about a student level uke for their daughter about to go to college (our youngest had another year of high school). The manager explained solid wood vs. laminates, differences in tone woods and construction methods, and sizes. He, too, pushed the Kamaka, but here it was at least $100 cheaper than the one in Waikiki. As a former part-time retail salesman, I could tell if he had offered a $200 solid wood (not Koa) uke, they'd have bought it. I asked to try the Kamaka, and a $200 solid mahogany with a solid spruce top model, both soprano size. The differences were obvious. We thinked the manager and went to the farmers' market.
As we left the market, my wife suggested we look at the furniture store. We went and the owner, an older lady, offered assistance. We asked about "musical instruments." She smiled and led us to a back room. A wall of glassed in shelves with every model Kamaka imaginable on the left, a wall of shelves with locally made drums on the right. The Kamaka which had been $600 on Oahu and just under $500 three doors away was under $400. The pattern on the Koa was more lovely than either I had seen or played. She pulled it out and it played and sounded far better than the other. She said "if you're interested, I have others you can try out, too." My wife nodded yes. The owner explained that with great solid wood instruments, the more and longer they are played, the wood opens up and the tone gets better over the years.
The owner brought out twelve cases. She began talking about her father and his brother... the ukulele player and drummer for a successful hula-backing band on the Big Island who retired to open the furniture store. My wife established three stacks: unplayed, played, but less interesting than the display model, and played and worth checking out again. By the time I had tried all 12 additional instruments, we had five possible keepers (including the display) and eight lesser ones. The owner put the rejects back in storage. Retrying the five, two were less impressive than the others. There was the display with very light, thin, straight, light and dark stripes in the Koa grain, another with far more dramatic light and dark stripes, all wider than the display model... and one with one curved dark stripe either side of the soundhole. I tried all again. Wide impressive stripes did not play, did not sound as bright as the other two. A bit duller. I kept going back and forth between the display and the one with curved stripes in the grain. The display uke's midrange was precise and clear. The curved stripe uke had better tone balance... even from bass to mids to treble. And it played easier. "This one." The owner put the display model back on the shelf.
I asked for extra string sets, and a pitch pipe. (Clip on tuners were either very new or not there.) She got Martin strings and a pitch pipe. The ukulele was less than $400, the case was $35 ($65 at the guitar shop), and the string sets were $3 each with $2 for the pitch pipe. Plus tax. We went to the guitar shop and bought two books, one of Iz, the other a basic Jumpin' Jim how to tune with easy beginning tips. He threw in a cleaning cloth.