It has been another auction day and whilst I haven't done quite as "well" as the last time I was winning auctions I did have one success. It was a job lot of two banjo instruments listed as "an unbranded 4 string Banjo and a Windsor Banjo in various states of repair" Now I could see from the photo that the unbranded Banjo was an East German made Musima Tenor Banjo that looks to be in pretty good condition (though I have seen fancier ones) and I've been wanting a Tenor Banjo to come to Ukulele Corner for some time so it was worth a punt for that, but thrown in with it was a Windsor Pyxe bracketless Banjo Mandolin that clearly needs a new vellum. The Pyxe was one of the better Windsor "zither" Banjos and is very welcome too, (though I probably wouldn't have invited it if it was on its own). Now I know Birmingham of the 70's was very communist but I'm not sure it was in the 20's so maybe there isn't a communist invasion going on just some old chordophone uniting in their love of (poorly played) music especially as, if I don't "Chicago" tune it I can't play the Tenor Banjo either.
And it wasn't quite my only win at the auction either, though I didn't get the Fender Mustang, the Rickenbacker, the Marshall combo or the Portastudio I did, (because I ordered a new phone line today) get a funny little telephone that doubles up as an electric organ. No idea what it will sound like; or even if it works? but it was cheap and you can always tell a phone.
Including the Telephone which does come with a sign saying it doesn't work on the local phone network, (they could have said that before I bid on it) As to the Banjos though the Musima Tenor Banjo is in fine, if a little dusty, condition the metal work needs a good polish and it's missing one string, (but the others need replacing anyway) but apart from that it rocks with nice planetary tuners, a neck adjustment screw and a nicely flamed plain resonator back that doesn't show a lot of wear. The Windsor is big, (and heavy), for a Banjo Mandolin and clearly was a deluxe model when it was new. As I already knew it has a big rip in the vellum but along with being very dusty, missing a string with the others needing replacing too, it has a couple of other small problems. It is missing one of the bracketless tension bolts and there is a chunk missing from one end of the otherwise very nice, possibly the poshest I've ever seen, bridge where the highest string is suppose to sit. As it has a separate saddle to hold the strings I think this can be replaced but I also think it would probably still work without repair though the vellum and the strings need doing before I worry about this. The phone Piano might have been a mistake but the Banjo's are both very worthwhile and welcome at Ukulele Corner
And it is VERY solid but also very pretty. It has quite a narrow neck too, I'm wondering if it was originally made as a Banjolin? Musima never really made Ukuleles for themselves but they were OEM for the last of the Dallas George Formbys and for some US distributors at the time, (of course they could have been selling them as Banjolins too but the Banjo Mandolin was even less popular than the Banjo Ukulele at that time?) Whatever, It's lovely, very well made, in perfect condition and very welcome at Ukulele Corner.
At Least AT LEAST! What am I saying this, (apart from the dodgy replacement geared tuners), is one of the most celebrated pre war Ukuleles. It's a Schireson Brothers Hollywood Concert scale Ukulele. Like Ditson and Wurlitzer, the Schireson Brothers only every sell quality Ukuleles but Unlike Ditson and Wurlitzer the Schireson Brothers made their own, well had their own workshop in Los Angeles where they were made. It came up as a "buy it now" on ebay at a reasonable price and though it has seen a lot of experience in the past the seller assures me that everything has been sorted by Elderly Instruments in the US, (before somehow it got to the UK and he got it from SUS?) I did think about it for a bit because of the "experience" I decided, as I want a Hollywood, and I can collect it on the way to get the Guitars tomorrow the seller also said if I didn't like it when I had seen it I could have my money back so nothing really to lose then. I did have a catalogue somewhere so I will get the model number all I can say at the moment is that is not an 8 or a 9 because it's the fully rope bound mahogany one. I think it may be a 5 and I will update this bit once I find the catalogue. I think I will also put a sensible set of friction tuners on it too once it is here because those geared ones don't look good
And my word it's gorgeous (apart from those tuners! And the chap who sold it to me proudly told me that he was responsible for them!? no accounting for taste. Still he also told me he was selling it to me with a hard case for less than half what he paid for it 6 months ago not counting the tuners and they are, at least, good quality Grover tuners) It is also really nicely restored. Yes you can see it has had some "experience" but everything is very tight and solid now, it does feel very nice to play. It is also probably the cleanest Ukulele I have ever got that wasn't new (and cleaner than a lot I've got that were new) I could quite easily photograph it now.
But those tuners have to go; as soon as I've plucked up the courage to mess about with it
So what did I win?
Lots of stuff; and I could easily have got more (though possibly I have got too much) From the first auction, (and possibly deliberately?) They had the Guitars at the beginning of the auction with the other one had them at the end thus allowing me, and maybe others to watch both, I did avoid buying too much as it was furthest away, What I bought from them was a 1930's Harmony made Pennant Banjolele, a decorative ƒ style Mandolin, (possibly made in Vietnam and not much cop as a musical instrument? but we'll see, it was in the lot with the Pennant?), and a Roland Synth module (It was a "Bargin, but I don't know how to cook it") I skipped all of the Guitars, Mandolins and other Banjos from this auction because they were either too expensive as they were good or I was passing them as I could always get something similar in the later auction, (and because the organisation had it with the Banjolele coming after the Guitars so I wasn't 100% I would be going when they came up) In hindsight this was a good plan as I did end up with too much from the second auction though I did pass up a couple of bargains and I am now committed to going.
In the second auction, as it was closer and it was second (so last chance of the day kind of thing) I had put in some pre-auction commission bids on the more pawn shop level Guitars in case I couldn't see the auction for any reason, with the plan that I could always cancel them before the lot came up, (sadly, and I'll need to remember this in future, that was not the case whether it was my incompetence or policy I'm not sure but once the auction started I couldn't cancel the bids). The bids I put it were very low, less than half the low estimate so I didn't think I would get that much, but whereas in the first auction the estimates were accurate for the most part, in this auction...
I won an S.X Bass Guitar (I did bid on this as I don't - well didn't at the time - have a proper Bass and this was going for £30) An Anniversary Rickenbacker 330 copy Guitar (the other I bid on in the auction this was the only hollow body in this auction and I wanted a semi-acoustic; and it was also the first Guitar up - still went for well under the estimate though). An Anniversary Rickenbacker 4003 copy Bass (get the whole Ricki Vibe) A BC Rich "Evil Edge" Mockingbird Guitar, (very metal), A BC Rich "Celtic" Virgo Guitar, (even more metal) A BC Rich Warbeast 1 Guitar (SuperMetal overload - and they are all black for some reason? - I thought I might win one for the pose maybe but not all three - granted there was a couple of other BC Riches that I didn't win because there was one bid over my very low pre bid, but they were black too? ) A Vester Stage Series Bass (I loved the finish on this, it would have been a chordophone of the day if I hadn't won it) A Peavey Zephyr C4 Bass, (I was always a fan of PeterWeazels T-40) A Gretsch Electromatic Junior Jet (it's a Gretsch even if it's not a big ol' Country Gentleman Semi) An Ibanez Jet King Bass (I like the shape and I like Ibanez) I passed up the Fender Precision, even though I'll probably never see one again that cheap and there were quite a few other bargains passed up (like the other BC Riches) but let's face it I've got enough to be going on with.
I think it is safe to say though I have more than enough pawn shop standard electric Guitars; AND Basses, to be going on with now so I think I will stay clear of them for a bit...
Unless something really good comes up!...
And I would like another more jazz type Semi-Acoustic ideally with a Bigsby...
and a "Manouche" Guitar...
All of them - a lot of driving and pissballing about and they all need a good clean; and probably new strings (Guitarists always tell me my guitars need new strings). Well the Mandolin definitely does, two of them are missing; (and yes it is a Vietnamese made - I'll have to see how it works out as a musical instrument when I put new strings on, but it will probably still be hard for me to say as I'm a crap Mandolin player) They are fun though and I have decided I love them all So now I'm going to have to change the layout of the website quite a bit to accommodate them all (and given the way that Google has been messing with Picasa I wouldn't be at all surprised it this stuffs up all the slideshows)
I got there about 50 lots before this so I decided to wait and see what would happen, well first the very nice California series Fender Acoustic Guitar came up and as good as my word about buying more Guitars I let it go, (well not quite as good as my word, I did put a small absentee bid on the other day but it started a lot higher than that but I did resist the temptation to bid again) Next was the Luna and it went for the top of my absentee bid. The auctioneer did start lower than my maximum but there was someone else bidding and took it up to the maximum; I was prepared to bid again as it is in perfect condition and was still a lot cheaper than a new one, but I didn't need to, and as I was there and won, I paid for it there and then and brought it back too so it's here with all of the other auction winnings and very welcome it is too
Now I have a lot of new instruments, including this one to photograph and write about.
Will I get them all done before this page gets to the bottom of the list?
the person that did buy it had it up on eBay that very evening with a £5 starting markup and a very reasonable £6.99 to ship. it also had a better condition description saying that there was a crack in the back. So clunker, but a very nice looking Regal made Beare & Sons "the Michigan" and the starting price was still very low. I bid £2 more that the starting price, (and with the crack I wasn't going to go higher), but only one other person bid and they only bid a pound more, so I won and now it's on the way to Ukulele corner but with a much lower shipping price that if I had bought it at the auction myself
It's slightly more damaged that was suggested, there are 2 cracks on the back and a bit of the bridge that holds the A (C tuning) string has broke off. (At the moment it's still working but there is very little tension on the string so I fully expect the string to slip if I try and tune it up - I am leaving it alone while I photograph it first). Neither of these extra problems affect the look of the Ukulele and to be honest it was mainly for the looks I got it - A very nice Regal made 1930's sunburst Soprano. it was imported to the UK at the time by Beare & Sons so no "Standard Approved" label (the UK didn't recognise the "approving" body) but a lovely "Made in the U.S.A." stamp on the back of the headstock (The UK wanted area of origin on things at the time - British Made, Empire Made or Foreign Made as a minimum but the USA was proud to take the credit/blame for its exports to the UK) All in all I think it is very nice and I am glad it has come to Ukulele Corner. I will try and get the rear cracks fixed and get it in tune and playable but it will probably spend most of its time just being decorative.
after a looooong drive and having to dodge the tanks And the shiny Vintage is very shiny and the ESP SG is very 'Eavy And the unseen cases are very good too. Oh and there was a surcharge for bidding on line - I could have saved a bit of money if I had attended the auction in person (but then I could easily have ended up buying too much!?) Alternatively it would have cost a bit in petrol if I went and then didn't buy anything, (I realised this money for nothing catch and this was one of the reasons I didn't go at the time so really I shouldn't be complaining now) Anyway both Guitars are in good condition and still, I think, worth a lot more than I paid including the surcharge and the petrol. Now I really must improve my Guitar playing
Because I drove to London and collected it. And its pretty old - It's a "Revelation Banjo Ukulele" which means it was sold before 1926 when the branding was changed to "New Revelation" This is also when he started rebranding Abbotts so I don't think this was made by Abbott, I don't know who did but it's not one of the usual suspects, (my best guess is the Hawkes & Co workshop from before they brought out Barnett Samuel, but I have only seen poor photos of the Hawkes produced Banjos) . For it's age the banjo is in fair shape, the drum is a little distorted and it has lost one of its tension hooks but on the plus side it still has a full set of wooden friction pegs and the headstock decal in in great shape. Talking of the pegs though, I do hate wooden friction pegs so I will replace them, (but keeping the set as spares) and the strings too. I am also a little suspicious of the tailpiece so I need to keep an eye out for better authentic ones along with a replacement hook. Clearly with no tone ring this was a budget banjolele when it was made but it plays ok, (when it's in tune) and is an interesting instrument so is very welcome at Ukulele Corner.
And WOW!!! It is perfect. OK so it only has 3 tuning pegs and I'm not sure if any of them are original, (But I don't like wooden friction tuning pegs anyway and would/ will replace them with a nice new set anyway). Apart from that no crack so seam splits, no scratches on the headstock decal, (No Tabu stamp probably from the 30's). Bridge is fine nicely in place and no signs of being reattached. The rosette is fine with al the inlay in place, all the frets. including the 12th are fine, (Bar frets so early 30's) I couldn't ask for better
and the case is even nicer than I thought with plush burgundy velvet lining and lots of cushioning...
But I'm not suppose to go on about cases The Mandolin itself is very nice too though it does need a little work; re stringing, tightening the head, the action seems very high, (though the bridge does look fairly original, or at least contemporary?) and it needs a good clean. I did think the fretboard might be radiused but it isn't, and I did hope I would be able to see some kind of maker's mark, but I can't. Maybe there is something under the head when I take it off to clean and tighten. I do hope so because it is well made and I would like to be able to say "XXX makes good chordophones"
Well I got the head off and had a good look inside but sadly there are no makers marks either on the drum or on the head so none the wiser. All I could find out from this examination is there is some age to the Banjo Mandolin and there is no neck adjustment things inside so possibly it needs a neck reset? I think it has lifted a little and this doesn't help with the action
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