Here is the latest news on Ukulele Corner and the instruments that are coming 

With the demise of Picasa the old show here is no longer maintainable
when i find an usable alternative i will put something here

Some days you have to jump at chances

posted 9 Jan 2017, 16:08 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 18 Jan 2017, 10:43 ]

Bushman Jenny Baritone
It has been one of those days on eBay when a couple nice Ukuleles came up with a real bargain buy it now price. they had only been listed for a couple of hours but at the price they were going for how could I not hit the button? Certainly not in the case of this Bushman Jenny Baritone with a florentine cutaway I believe this model is discontinued now and when you do see them, (and that's very rarely in the UK), they go for serious money. Well this one came up for a very, VERY reasonable buy it now price, the down side was it was listed as collection only and was going to be a couple of hours drive either way to collect it. At that price and at that rarety it was worth it though so I hit the button and wrote to the seller asking for directions. He phoned me straight back to give me directions but said there was a small error with the listing and he was quite happy to post it. Great, I'm quite happy to get it posted to me and save myself the long drive. And I'll be very happy to have it in Ukulele Corner

It's Here!

and it's not a Jenny?! It looked like a Jenny in the pictures; same reddish mahogany, same gloss finish etc. but the label in the soundhole tells me its a Bushman "Eastmansong" Ukulele made, well finished on the 3 of July 2006. It is very nicely made, though when I took the three strings it came with off, the nut fell off too! (I have glued it back on and restring it with a set of Clifford Essex strings)The one really glaring QC issue with it is the tuners, (which are closed and do work nicely and smoothly as tuners), are spectacularly haphazard in their alignment with the sides of the headstock. not one is a right angle and no two are at the same angle either so you can't see any design influence that could have cause this? There are no extra holes for the tuner fixing screws so clearly it was made like this, (and because I would have to make new holes to correct it and I don't want to make new holes I am going to leave it)

It's origins are certainly curious, in looking Eastmansong up as a Bushman brand I have found that is appears to be a separate distributor. I have seen it both in conjunction with Busman, (on other Ukuleles as well as mine), and as a brand in its own right; so no Bushman on the headstock (but no Easmansong on the headstock either), just an Eastmansong sound hole label. Easmansong appears to be, (or have been - I'm not sure if they are still going?) a European, possibly Swiss distributor. My guess it that the same factory in China made Ukuleles for both companies and whether by accident or planned, (Bushman is a U.S. company and only sell mail order in Europe or through small European distributors) supplied this Bushman branded Baritone to Eastmansong.

I don't think it has swastikas on it...

posted 8 Jan 2017, 16:33 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 12 Jan 2017, 08:42 ]

Hess Ukulele with Juka autoplayer
The reason I say that is because, until I invited this one, I had only ever seen pictures of them from a German catalogue put out in 1939, and 1939 was not the greatest chapter in German history. The company who made it, Ernst Hess Nachf. was founded in the 19th century and predates the Nazi party by a number of years, so unless there are swastikas on it somewhere, (I will know once it gets here and I have a good look at it), I think its safe to assume it had nothing to do with "Kristallnacht" or any of that stupidity. The Juka autoplayer is a similar sort of thing the the KeyKords put out by Kay in the early 30's, (I believe this copied Kay, not visa versa) though on a much smaller Soprano scale, and is probably more sophisticated than the later plastic Chordmasters. Once it is here I will learn a lot more about it as all I knew before was that it existed. What I won't know, but would probably be an interesting story, is how it got here from Klingenthal? I would guess, though it was made before the war, (the firm Ernst Hess Nachf. didn't survive the war), it was brought back as some kind of souvenir by soldiers returning after the war?

It's Here

and no swastikas on it anywhere (phew! Ukulele Corner prides itself on being a very inclusive place), There is also no "made in Germany" or "foreign made"  stamps on it which probably means that it was never originally sold in the UK and came here some time after the war. All it does say apart from Juka (the brand name) is "D.R.P - Auslandspatente" which means the Juka was patented in countries other than Germany before 1939 but also suggests that it was meant for the domestic market. The Ukulele itself is very solidly made though not of especially high craftsmanship and the wood in laminate. It has a scale length of about 360mm, (it's hard to measure because it has a zero fret but no twelfth fret and the juka device is in the way), so a big Soprano or possibly a small Concert. Like the KeyKord it has steel strings but unlike the KeyKord it would be fairly easy to unscrew it to replace the strings. There is a small gap between the Juka and the fretboard so you can kind of see what it happening when you press one of the leavers (they are leavers rather than buttons) and in addition to the zero fret there is also the first 3 frets. this is helpful as there is no chord notation in the box just numbers 1 to 8, (1 - 4 on the treble side and 5 - 8 on the bass side), and with no accompanying documentation, (I'm guessing there was when it was new; and not looted), I have to try and work out what the corresponding chords are, (though since I have to guess what the original tuning was suppose to be too D tuning was the standard in Germany at the time but it could just as easily be C tuning or the steel strings some kind of Cavaquinho tuning, D~G~B~D or maybe D~G~B~E? Even Mandolin tuning; steel Mandolin string would have been much more common at the time). With the string on it at the moment it is re-entrant but I don't know how original the strings are, (they look a bit good for 80 odd years old and certainly have a lot of sustain? - the tuners do look very much like they are 80 years old though), still all of this adds to the fun and mystery of having it here at Ukulele Corner 

Not quite sure what is coming...

posted 23 Dec 2016, 03:10 by Lardy Fatboy

Venezuelan Ukulele
But as it's Christmas it's good to get a surprise.
The advertisement shows a number of instruments in all the photos bar one, (the third in the set so not particularly prominent?) and most of the text is in fairly broken English, partly done with a translator but not all of it? So here is one of the pictures, I think it's probably one of them but it might not be? I get the impression there are a number to shift. What the text tells me is it's originally from Venezuela and possibly coming via Miami, (but possibly given the economic situation in Venezuela at the moment that might just be where the money goes?) It says it 21 inches, which is the usual length for a Soprano, but in another part of the text it calls it a Venezuelan Four, which is how the translators translate Cuatro Venezuelo, and this is what they look like; but a Cuatro is usually 30 inches long. my best guess is it's number three in that photo which looks smaller than the front two but I will be happy whatever one it is, (though I do like the colourful golpeador on the front one) A real Cuatro Venezuelo or a Venezuelan luthiers take on a Ukulele.

Not to be disappointed...

posted 14 Dec 2016, 15:55 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 23 Dec 2016, 10:22 ]

Encore E99 electric Guitar
And it looks like I am collecting Guitars now, despite what I have said about collecting Ukuleles because they take ups so much less room, and if only pawn shop quality copies of the famous designs.
What I have invited this time is an JHS Encore E99 which apart from the headstock and fret markers look a lot like a Les Paul single cutaway Standard. Now I have tried quite a bit recently to get a single cut LP type Guitar at auctions including that big one that I mentioned that had 9 Epiphone Les Pauls (plus some other copies), the one I got the Dot, the Hagstrom and the Kramer in and the one today that had a cream Tanglewood. Sadly they all got away from me so vaguely looking this evening on eBay I thought I would have a little look at what was there and found this one, collection only, but from just up the road, very very cheap and with only 24 minutes left on the auction. Well I thought why not? its closer than most and much, much cheaper than the other recent attempts so I bid and extra pound, became the top bidder and won. Now I just have to go and collect it, but its much closer than Bath - and maybe I need to think about getting another Guitar rack too!

It's Here!

And it's better than I was expecting I always thought of myself as more of a Fender type man but I don't know something about the Les Paul shape just feels more comfortable than the Strats or Teles On the basis of holding this, if I was going to just get one proper electric Guitar, (rather than a collection of pawn shop specials), I'd get the Gibson Les Paul Classic. No case of gigbag this time but I did get a perfectly good strap thrown in And I did have to put the scratch plate back on for some reason, but I did get all of the pieces so this wasn't a problem.
So now I have an LP type and can stop chasing after them.
Unless its a real one...
Or maybe a double cut...
Or a Gold Top, or a Junior, or a Recording, or a hollow body or has a Bigsby, or...

And I have got the new Guitar rack too!

Pre-Christmas Sprit

posted 11 Dec 2016, 15:49 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 23 Dec 2016, 08:49 ]

Nukulele Soprano
50's Regal Soprano
It's one of those times when Ukuleles I want come up on eBay with a good low opening price so I put an opening bid in and then no one else bids, (hooray), so I end up getting it cheap. In this case it is a "Nukulele" that is a bottle shaped Soprano decorated to look like a bottle of beer and though partly a novelty it is suppose to be a full functional instrument. Also 3 hours later it's a late 40's early 50's undecorated Regal Soprano in need of a little love

With the Nukulele, I remember them coming onto the market in 2014 and I was almost given one to review then; but that deal never came off. After the initial publicity they seemed to disappear until recently when I saw them on sale for about half what they were priced at in 2014, (so clearly not a great success then), I was tempted at this price but suggested to Miss Moo this would be a good Christmas present. She, however said she wouldn't get me any sort of chordophone for Christmas so when new one came up as an eBay auction with a very low starting price I thought I would put in a small opening bid and see how it went; and then I'm back to the beginning of the story.

With the Regal I bid on it because though I have some Regal made Ukuleles I don't actually have any specifically branded Regal and this one has a nice complete undamaged, (from the photo), Regal blue label decal on the headstock. On the basis of this I put in the opening bid, (its coming from America so with postage it wasn't that cheap but it was shipping through eBay's international service and was still cheap enough for there to be no import tax), but I wouldn't have gone much higher. Once again no one else bid so I ended up winning but in hindsight its not surprising no one else bid; and I may have bid too much myself. I didn't check the rest of it out enough thinking I would be outbid and in looking again I see there is a lot more damage than I first thought, especially to the back

They're Here...

Well the Nukulele anyway, the Regal might not be here before the new year?

So the Nukulele: it's a bit of a Curates egg. It has a much better quality finish than I was expecting and though it is better than some novelty ukes like the Toy Story ones or the Carnivals, its still not as good sounding as a proper Ukulele. It does stand up on it's own though and that always handy. I can see why they never took off as a Ukulele idea though. Whilst in a large collection, (like mine), it's a striking and interesting addition, if you only have one or two Ukes I can't see this being a good choice for playing and though novel it's not that great as a decorative piece either; the visual joke just isn't that funny

And now the Regal is here too.

And whilst the split on the back is very large it is straight and clean so shouldn't be to much of a problem to repair. There are some seems popping on the back too but again it should be a straightforward repair. The front it not too bad either, certainly from a distance. yes the bridge has been off at some point and yes there are a couple of hairline cracks but as a mainly decorative uke it passes muster

Sometimes plans go astray...

posted 8 Dec 2016, 12:24 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 23 Dec 2016, 10:20 ]

Crafter M70 Mandolin
Legacy B60 acoustic Bass
Epiphone Dot 335 hollowbody Guitar
Hagstrom D2F "silver sparkle" Guitar
Kramer "Dark Burst" Guitar
Sometimes I'm not sure I even had a plan to go astray! It's been one of those day's where there was a BIG (300+) Guitar auction - and in a mess of calendar clashes a second slightly smaller, but still substantial (50+) Guitar auction Now the BIG one was in Bath again, the same place as I got the Harmony Pennant and the Vietnamese Mandolin from so I knew it was a bit of a hike to collect stuff from but my thinking was "at the last one there was no real interest in the non-guitar instruments; and with that many Guitars, and the amount of quality Guitars on offer that some of the cheaper, less desirable, (apart from to me), Guitars would go at bargain prices". After all with 9 Epiphone Les Pauls you would think there was enough for everyone as an example. Therefore it wouldn't be so much of a hike if I was collecting a number of nice instruments. So I went through the process of looking through the catalogue and putting a low auto bid in on the ones I was interested in. a tactic for getting a low start but a small risk of ending up with 3 or 4 Epi Les Pauls.
Then there was another one, but this time in Glasgow(!) however on this one they had a quote for shipping next to each lot (and a promise of discounts if I was shipping more than one lot) Now the shipping price was quite high but like buying from the US on eBay, as you know it you can factor it in and keep the bids low - so a plan? and there was a few here I would like too.

The Glasgow auction started first so I started there and I got excited early on. Up for grabs was a Legacy acoustic Bass (with hard case) - now I had missed this when putting in my auto bids and I know Legacy guitars are not generally very expensive, but I don't have a full size acoustic Bass and when it started very low I thought I'd have a punt, outbid the first bidder and no one came back so I won! Now I was committed, I'd brought something and was going to have to arrange shipping or go to Glasgow. Shipping obviously, but the Legacy Bass wasn't that much of a bargain after fees and shipping so buy more and put the price per guitar down - a new plan? Quite a few Guitars were too expensive - though I'm now not sure the Gibson Les Paul Junior for £240 plus shipping was still not a good deal? - but at the time I did, sadly stopped. Then happily, because it was one of my favorites in the auction, got the cherry Epiphone Dot 335 hollow body. There there was the job lot of the Hagstrom D2f semi-hollow which from the photo is unstrung and may be missing the tailpiece, (it doesn't mention the missing tailpiece in the description though) however it has a "silver sparkle" finish and how could I resist that?? Plus a mystery "Kramer electric Guitar in dark burst"?? There was no photo of this and no further clues as to what it might be; I've checked Kramer's website and they don't use the term "dark burst" so all I can do is look at burst finishes that might be described that way. I'm sure it won't be one of the old ones with the aluminium necks and I fear it will be one of the "strat" copy Pacer models (still as Gibson now own Kramer this would mean I get my Gibson Stratocaster again), but I hope it will be the Les Paulish Assault.

Back to the Bath auction and everything went through at way to high a price; even the Keech Banjulele, even the Epiphone Les Pauls, (every one of them went for more that the Epi LP in Glasgow went for and I thought that was too expensive), even the Mandolins...
Apart from the second to last one, the Crafter M70e with the bubinga top and the Crafter gigbag. Now I like the bubinga top, I think it looks very pretty, (thats why I bid in the first place), but having lost everything else I was kind of hoping I would get nothing and save myself the trip; but my auto bid was unchallenged. Now had I won this much earlier in the auction I might have tried harder for some of the other lots but all that was left after this was an A style Mandolin that I didn't really want to go for

I will be happy to own them all once they are here but I will have to see how much I have to do to get them here, (and Glasgow is a very long drive).

OK so its organised - a bit. The guitars are being delivered from Glasgow but I will still have to drive to Bath for the Mandolin

They're Here!

Well the Mandolin anyway, after a looooong drive to Bath (Bloody glad I don't have to drive to Glasgow) And it does have a lovely soundboard; and a lovely tone. Like I said now it's here it's well worth the effort and I'm sure the others will be lovely too

They're Here!

Well a couple more: one of the parcels from Glasgow, with the Epi and the Bass seems to have gone astray!
However some questions answered and plenty of good/bad news. First the Kramer, It is the Assault 220 and the "darkburst", (though Kramer call it redburst flame top), does look very nice. On the down side, and none of this was mentioned in the description, is a LOT of problems! The back cover plate and the 3¼" jack socket are missing; this means that the wires to the socket have been cut and there is some BIG question marks as to whether the electrics still work? The top grommets on the bridge end string holes are gone and this has meant on the high E the string has cut into the top a bit, fairly small but it does show that the grommets will need to be replaced before I try to restring it. There is a moderate chip out ot the back of the headstock, (probably nothing I can do about this). Finally there are some large white emulsion paint splatters and runs on the back, (and one on the side); I can probably get most of the paint off with careful scraping but I doubt I would be able to get it back fully.
Now the Hagstrom is the D2F Special but the tailpiece with the Tremar Vibrato is long gone. It's removal though has left a couple of small screw holes in the top from where it was attached and there is a VERY large hole by the Tune O'Matic saddle that may or may not be a result of it's going, (it it a very large hole however it got there, and something will have to be done about it). In suspecting the tailpiece had gone. I have managed to get a replacement "standard" Hagstrom tailpiece with the crest and everything, but no vibrato, (and I say standard but it was for a left handed Hagstrom so the angle is the wrong way. I don't think this will make it any harder to fit though and will hopefully add a little quirkiness to the overall look). It's also missing one of the string cradles for the Tune O'Matic saddle. this doesn't look like it would be hard to fit but it may be hard to find one?

All in all far more project work than I was looking for (but hopefully all doable and I will be happy with them once they are done) and I hope the other Guitars turn up tomorrow

They're Here!

And the tailpiece for the Hagstrom too. (Can't see fitting this will be a problem so just the missing cradle and the hole)
So that's everything, the Legacy Bass is missing one string so I will have to get a set of Bass strings and a couple of sets of Guitar strings, but apart from that its pretty perfect. Tuning the strings that are there up it has a good loud acoustic tone, everything seems to work, (though I haven't tested the electrics), and there is no issues with the finish. The case is very good too, very large and with two case keys should I ever need to lock anything up in it
The Epiphone is lovely too, no issues and not a mark on it, so now I have the hollow body I wanted. Is that it for Guitars at Ukulele Corner now?
Well there is still the pawn shop tele, maybe an explorer and an electric vee...
I've always said I wanted and Ovation Breadwinner / Deacon and of course a proper Gibson and proper electric Fender, (and plenty of other expensive makes too)
Maybe a Baritone? Certainly an Octave
And a Banjitar (the list goes on...)

And now we're off to sunny (pre Franco) Spain...

posted 28 Nov 2016, 15:39 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 23 Dec 2016, 10:30 ]

José Alvaréz "the Dulcet" Soprano
The latest invitee to Ukulele Corner is a José Alvaréz "the Dulcet" Soprano/Guitarico. Originating in Barcelona these were distributed by Dallas in the post WWI, pre Spanish Civil War period and must have been fairly reasonable as one was famously part of George Formby's personal collection, (though as the major endorser of Dallas Ukuleles this could just be something he was given?) My one is interesting because, though I have seen ones that don't have a golpeador, those ones had a light cedar/spruce/pine? natural soundboard and a very dark, probably ebonised, fretboard. I'm not sure from the photos if mine has had some kind of dark finish applied post sale, by José or is some different darker top wood? I'm hoping for the latter but whatever it is, it will be an interesting addition to Ukulele Corner, (though if it is aftermarket paintwork I will look to try and remove it if I can)

It's Here

And it is aftermarket brown paint!! Why, oh why, oh why? It looks awful. Thick, shitty colour, brush marks and what a pity, it all looks pretty perfect apart from the paint. Sound, straight, nice frets nice original tuners and unless the paint is hiding something no cracks. Well its straight down to the DIY shop for some gel paint remover and i hope I can get it off without damaging the wood underneath before I string it up and play it, (and photograph it properly)

Well I now stripped most of the paint off and apart from some final sanding I need to decide what to do to put a protective / decorative finish back on it? I thought initially that it would just be a re varnish or a good waxing but it is looking very pale now so I think some sort of staining

How could I not?

posted 27 Nov 2016, 12:25 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 10 Dec 2016, 15:10 ]

Ammoon "Stripy" Concert
I was hunting through the ebay "buy it now" section looking for something new to be Ukulele of the day (Something I do occasionally if I'm behind with my posting - as a general rule I stay away from "buy it now" as it's too dangerous - as you can see...) and I saw this. Well it is pretty striking, (and stripy), and hard to miss. One look and I thought "yes that would make a fine Ukulele of the day" It was listed as Colorized 24" Wooden Acoustic Soprano Ukulele. Now to me 24 inches usually means Concert so it's either a 14 fret Supersoprano or a mistranslation? Now obviously its wooden and with no specifics here, some kind of laminate and this is borne out by the close ups that show the stripes as different laminate strips rather than just printing? Anyway instead of Ukulele of the day I invited one to Ukulele Corner, (where it can be Ukulele of the day in future after I have photographed it). Its branded as ammoon which is not a make I know much about but they do brand an identical model to my Rubin so I'm thinking another Chinese ebay distributor and probably the same oem as the Rubin and possibly some of my other modern Chinese Ukuleles, (that fret board is the same as my Cedar Tom for example). I will look into ammoon some more as I wait for it to arrive and maybe have some answers by then to go with the physical answers I will have once I am playing it. Until then, well I think it looks lovely.

It's Here

But I was "buggered" for tax before I could have it so it hasn't ended up quite the bargain I'd hoped. Anyway it is VERY colourful and the finish is very good. I'm still having to stretch the new Aquila strings on it (the E particularly seems to need a lot of stretching), but so far I'm not wild about the tone ? Hopefully it will improve once the strings settle down and it was the colourfulness that made me buy it. It's just it's ended up a little more expensive that a purely decorative Uke...
It is definately a normal Concert sized body and scale so that answers that question and I still do think it looks lovely
Now the strings have settled in a bit the tone has improved. It's still not "tiny angels stuck in honey" but then it was never going to be. It is a nice Chinese factory made laminate Ukulele tone: from a nice Chinese factory made laminate Ukulele.

I knew I'd get one one day... Twice

posted 16 Nov 2016, 15:35 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 8 Dec 2016, 16:23 ]

Bob Headford Soprano Banjolele
Jolli Joe the UK Uke
Two Banjoleles that have been on the "if one comes up at a reasonable, (read bargain), price" There is the "Jolli Joe the UK Uke" all metal British made Banjolele from the 1920's They are always painted blue, (apart from if the paint flakes off or the varnish "yellows" and turns them green) and anecdotally they are not suppose to sound that great, but to my mind they look very distinctive and interesting, plus I have always wanted to find out more about who actually made them? Now the one coming to Ukulele Corner is a bit more beat up than I would have liked, (and a bit more beat up than I remember when I bid on it!) the obvious problems apart from the flakey paint and lack of bridge and strings are the missing resonator, plus two tensioning brackets and a tuner. On the plus side the vellum looks ok but all of the missing hardware is going to be difficult to replace, especially the resonator, without having to get another one for parts, so it's likely to be a bit of a project; but it might answer some of my questions about the original manufacturer? And on the plus plus side it's coming with, though equally as beat up, the official Jolli Joe faux crocodile case, and they are a lot rarer than the Ukulele itself, (and super hip to boot!)
Then there is also the current claimant to the title "UK Uke" a modern bracketless (probably) Soprano Banjolele from Bob Headford. This one is in perfect condition and whilst it would have been nice to get the branded head, for the bargain price of this I can go without it. This one is a bit of a surprise as I didn't realise how short the ebay auction was set so I wasn't expecting it to end today, (and being so short I was the only person who bid)

They're Here!

The Jolli Joe is certainly going to be a project but with a new tuner button (to replace the missing one) a bridge and some strings I can certainly make it playable again. I still think I may have to get a second one for parts - or use this one for parts if the second one is better. (It really is a great case though)

The HeadFord is spectacularly good - fat better then I thought it would be. It is Concert scale, very LOUD but with a good tone and a nice gloss black finish. It would have been even better with some fret markers, even if just on the side, (however one of, to my mind, the best ways to decorate an Banjo is with nice ornate fret markers - maybe I could get some of those fancy "tree of life" fretboard stickers and put those on? )

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