Here is the latest news on Ukuleles that may come to live in the Corner

and anything else that happens there
Ones That Got Away
maybe next time
My latest eBay bids
I hope I win it and get it cheap

I'm onto a winner

posted 22 Aug 2016, 08:00 by Lardy Fatboy

1920's Kumalae Soprano
There was an auction 3 hours drive away over the weekend but I was sent a preview of the catalogue and could join in on line for a small fee on top of anything I bid on and won. I could also put in early proxy bids and as there was a couple of good looking Ukuleles in the catalogue, a standard Keech and this Kumalae, I thought "well I'll put in a low early bid, just to show an interest, and watch and bid online on the live app when it gets serious". Good thing I did too, because I forgot all about the auction when it was happening! I remembered after it had ended but there was nothing I could do then and they were low proxy bids. Still you never know so I checked and after finding the results had been posted I could see the Keech had gone for 3 times what I had bid, (but them I'm not that fussed about a standard Keech Banjulele there is always a couple on ebay so if its not a bargain, a "long scale" or a deluxe I'm happy to wait for the next one) but the Kumalae? (and the Kumalae was the one I really wanted). I could see it had sold for a good deal less that the low proxy bid I put on, (I know the auctioneers treat that as a maximum ad will start lower on your behalf), and I could see it went to an online buyer but I wasn't 100% it was me. I had been notified that I was accepted to bid but not definitively that my bid had been accepted, and I couldn't find anything to notify me I had won so I was half hopeful, half really pissed off as I would have gone higher if it wasn't me and I had remembered to watch, (OK more like a quarter hopeful three quarters pissed; it had gone for a really low price if it wasn't me). With a sinking feeling I logged in this morning just to be sure and this time I found the notification I had won!! (whether I didn't find it yesterday or if they didn't notify me until this morning I don't know?) So a long drive to collect it, but at that price it was still worth it including the cost of the petrol. I phoned Up the auction house to double check I had won, (I don't usually get that lucky), and to let them know I was coming to collect it and found I really had won and that they had packed it all up to post to me, (for a lot less than the petrol would have cost), as soon as I paid. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and now its on its way to Ukulele Corner.

I've never seen anything like it in me life!

posted 19 Aug 2016, 07:23 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated ]

Decorated Banjolele
Well it's a Banjolele obviously but apart from that I don't know who made it, where it was made or when? Or even if it's original or a "Frankenstein" made up of parts? (but a lot of it does look like it fits together to well to be a frankenstein?). The seller has very little detail just that it was his Dads and has been up in the loft for years? the tuners have slot head screws which suggests it's older than 1970 but they don't look pre war and the skin looks synthetic; but quite old? I don't recognise the headstock shape at all or the basic build and the metal fretboard and inlayed resonator are definitely different. I have only seen metal fretboards like that on US instruments, Globe Trufrets or Bee Jay's for example but the design on the back looks more southern European, (and to be honest a little "artisan")? I came upon it very late in the auction (2 hours to go) as it was badly listed bid a pound more (as that was pretty much all I would go on it, (possibly more than I should; the "artisan" look, but it did look very unusual), but this made me high bidder and no one else bid so now it's coming to Ukulele Corner where I can have a good look at it and see what I can find out. My guess at the moment is 60's  possibly Greece or Turkey (maybe for the Cumbus factory but then it will be clearly labeled?) possibly more a tourist piece than a musical instrument, (but I hope not). We shall see when it gets here...

It's Here

And I'm not really any the wiser? No makers mark or anything, and I've had the resonator off to check. The tuners are fairly modern; but are they original? my feeling at the moment is that is is factory made, rather than an individual, professional or otherwise. That it is fairly modern, (there is a date of 2006 written on it but no feeling that it's anything to do with the maker so could just be from a previous owner?) It is very "artisan" in quality but things like the tone ring do make it appear to be more a musical instrument than just being a cheap tourist piece would need? Whatever the full story, it is very interesting and I shall look out for any further clues about its origins.

It's still won't be Mandolin Corner But...

posted 9 Aug 2016, 16:26 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 16 Aug 2016, 08:00 ]

EpiphoneMM30 Mandolin
Nice Mandolins are always welcome so now another Mandolin is coming.
The Mandolin coming is an Epiphone MM30 (so A style) that has sadly lost its scratch plate at some time in the past. This loss is the only thing wrong with it though, Well I think it needs new strings to But I do have a set somewhere), and doesn't affect to sound or playability at all. I also don't think it adversely affects to look. This clean front, along with the ƒ holes (I'm a sucker for ƒ holes) and the (I believe discontinued; certainly it doesn't feature in Epiphones website?) red colour I think makes it look a little different from all of the more budget A styles about; and having checked out the prices for a new one it's not a budget Mandolin either. OK it's not a "Masterbilt" but it's still made to a good standard and is more than good enough for my skills.

It's Here !!

and I don't think it needs new strings that badly, I can certainly play with it with the strings it has on, (OK I am never sure when new strings are needed unless they are broken or covered in rust). It tunes up ok, the strings are murder on my fingers and too close together after a Ukulele. The chords are odd, (but I've dug my mandolin chord chart out) and one day I'll learn something more complicated than sweet home Alabama (with the open G). I will also have to look out for a pick guard with the big Epiphone E logo on; it doesn't need it for playing but for completeness...

A lot can be said for presentation

posted 8 Aug 2016, 10:35 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 16 Aug 2016, 16:23 ]

Continental Banjo Mandolin
The latest prospective arrival at Ukulele Corner is a continental Banjo Mandolin dating from, I would guess, the mid 20th century. I don't know a lot about it, apart from that it looks nice as there is no makers marks on it that I'm aware of and from the style it could come from anywhere from Portugal to Italy and anywhen from 1930 to 1970. It did come at a bit of a bargain price, one of those ones where I put a small bid in, as much as anything to put it on the watch list and see how much it eventually goes for; but then no-one else bids so I end up winning. (it's always nice when this happens but it doesn't happen very often). In this case someone else did bid but they only went a pound over the opening bid and so my original bid was still the highest, (just). What really made me bid in the first place though was the nice photo they had taken of it in the sunshine with its refurbished, (from the look of the latches) and re covered, (tastefully, with sheets of old music scores), case. I liked this picture so much I had put it for "Chordophone of the day" on Pinterest not thinking I would eventually win the auction, and now having won I am thinking I will leave it "as is" for Chordophone of the day even though when it arrives I can restring it properly, clean it up and take some nice new photos of it, (I will do all of this but my photos won't be as "arty") I will also enjoy seeing if I can find out more of its age and nationality and my Mandolin playing is still a bit rudimentary , (anyone want to hear Sweet Home Alabama?)

It's Here!

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"

Another "I knew I would one get one day..."

posted 7 Aug 2016, 16:58 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 11 Aug 2016, 02:46 ]

Ohana SK-30L "Giraffe" Tenor
Its the Ohana SK-30L mahogany Supersoprano with the Tenor scale "giraffe" long neck. Now I like the strangely disproportionate look of a giraffe Supersoprano and this Ohana is now the most widely available model, (since Kala discontinued theirs). It's not spectacularly appointed though, just workmanlike with a solid mahogany body, no binding or other decorations and a bone nut and saddle, so nice but not rare and not as far as I know about to be discontinued or anything so though I wanted one because I like that "disproportionate look", there were lots of other models I wanted just as much. Of course there are always "bargins" though and I have been trying a couple of times recently to get one at a good price through "Buy It Now or Best Offer" (but my best offer wasn't good enough). This time though it came up as a straight auction, (ok there was a reserve but it wasn't a very high reserve), and I won; and at a better price than my previous best offers! So welcome to Ukulele Corner when I shall enjoy the quality of the build, the freedom of the extended neck  and the hope that one day I will have the talent to take advantage of it.

It's Here

And it arrived just as I was going out of the door for a long weekend; literally! As I opened the door to step out there was the postman co-incidentally just raising his hand to knock. Anyway I took delivery when back inside and unwrapped it; and its lovely. I just had to knock out a couple of tunes before I left to catch the train and they were good tunes. I didn't have a great opportunity to look it over before I left but I'm certainly now looking forward to getting back to Ukulele Corner to play with it

Not counting Chickens this time

posted 3 Aug 2016, 01:44 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 16 Aug 2016, 02:10 ]

1930's Supertone "Idle Hours"  Soprano
This one is coming through eBay, and I've paid and got a receipt, Of course that are still plenty of opportunities for disaster from dodgy sellers to aeroplane crashes, (it's escaping from New York before Donald Duck becomes president) But I am sure all will be OK and this will arrive.
What I have invited this time is the iconic Supertone "Idle Hours" Soprano with the nice canoe decal. Made By Harmony and dating from the mid 20's through to the mid 30's, (it has the "standard approved label" in so must date from after 1926), there is a little separation of the seams that will need to be reglued but the decal is in good shape and that is the most unrepairable part. The reason for the invite was; well it was cheap, (obviously). I had been outbid and was going to let it go but I caught it just before going to bed with a couple of hours left and still at a pretty low price so I thought "I'll just bid a dollar more, that might be someones maximum" and it was. So I went to bed winning but sure all of the action would happen at the end and it would sell to someone for at least $20 more than my offer, however that never happened and I woke up to a "Pay Now" and happily paid. After all it is a pretty iconic Ukulele design and very welcome at Ukulele Corner

It's Here

and the back does badly need to be reglued but apart from that it's in fine fine shape. Not crack anywhere, including the back plate, the decal is in as good a condition as the seller's photo showed, the bridge is firmly attached with no sign of having come off and been reattached, true there are some grooves where it had steel strings on, (but I had them off and in the bin as soon as I got it), but they are not too bad and there is still plenty ;of saddle left: if anything they will make the Ukulele better because they will lower the action and older Ukuleles generally have a higher action than I like. The frets could use a light redressing and the 12th fret, though there, looks a little loose. This is probably because the neck is not under tension at the moment with no strings on and it will be better once I string it up again, (once the back is glued). I will shoot off a few pictures just to put here instead of the seller ones and then get on with fixing it up

Resistance is futile...

posted 29 Jul 2016, 01:15 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 2 Aug 2016, 08:47 ]

Gremlin box travel soprano Ukulele
I tried, I really tried but some temptations just can't be avoided.
What I have invited here is a Ukulele - really. It's the Ashbury "Lonely Player" travel Soprano and is such an unusual design that I knew I would have to invite one at some time, but Gremlin are a big distributor so there would be plenty about and they would be easy to get hold of, (with Gremlin behind it I'm surprised it went in the Ashbury lineup and not the Blue Moon one? Anyway...). They are also not very expensive so it was something that could sit on my list for a bit for when I hadn't invited anything for a while, or and I think this is the actual case, when I could resist no longer. Well it is certainly a striking design and I'm very much looking forward to seeing how it is to play and to how it sounds

It's Here!!

And it's definitely different! Very different indeed; and small too. It came is a standard Soprano size box and when I saw that I thought "they could have packed it with more padding, maybe a box within a second box too..." but when I opened it they had. Inside the standard Soprano box was plenty of protective padding and a much smaller rectangular box that the Ukulele came in. The box is cardboard and not a case or a soft case but given its size and shape I have seen pencil cases that could easily be used as a soft case for it and there would be plenty of options for repurposing something for a hard case too. To the Ukulele itself and the first thing was to tune it and this was "different" too With its headless design and the tuners at the base it was not as easy to tune as normal. Firstly you have to use the same hand you pluck the strings with to turn the tuner which is a little inconvenient; or use your other hand to pluck the strings, but then you need a third hand to hold it. Secondly as the tuners are at the other end of the Ukulele you have to turn them the other way than you normally would. Neither thing is majorly difficult but it adds to the oddness of it, and once it is in tune the tone is not great, more like a cigar box instrument than a nice Ukulele, (I suppose that is to be expected, it is built like a cigar box Ukulele really). It's also not very loud, but like its looks it's sound is distinctive and different. It is not a Ukulele for beginners but it is certainly one for a collection and one that is very welcome at Ukulele Corner.

I've been to the Auction Again

posted 19 Jul 2016, 06:07 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 20 Jul 2016, 03:42 ]

Star Caster
E-Ros Dakota
Hohner Arbor
Only this time I actually went and not just logged on online!

The Nice Case

Possibly a mistake? Certainly it wasn't as much fun as I had hoped, and whilst it was a learning experience I have invited things back to Ukulele Corner that maybe I shouldn't have?

The first lesson I learned is to go before if you can and make sure you know what you are bidding on the next lesson is to get a catalogue (they don't necessarily hold up what is being sold at the time so you need to be confident you are bidding on the lot you want)

I was keen to go to the Auction as one of the lots was described as a"Fender Star Caster and a Hohner electric Guitar" but there was no pictures in the online catalogue. Now I know the Star Caster it was a kind of semi-hollow vaguely stratocaster shaped Guitar Fender had out for a while in the 60's and reissued in 2013 and I could guess from the Star Caster that the Hohner might be one of their semi-acoustic too. I would very much like a 60's Star Caster, I would still be happy with the re-issue; and a nice German semi-acoustic would be a treat too. What I didn't know is that in between the 60's original and the 2013 reissue Fender reused the name Star Caster in the branding "Star Caster by Fender" for a line of budget, Squire type instruments, (they even included a drum kit in the range), that were sold through some specific department store chains primarily in the U.S.

I hadn't seen the Guitars before the auction and when I got there I couldn't find them in the saleroom. As the auction was under way I couldn't ask either. Still I know what, (I thought), a Star Caster was and at the guide price this was going to be a real bargain. What I did find though was a Balalaika and an acoustic Guitar in a really nice hardcase. I got a good look at the Balalaika, and with a guide price of £10-£15, (I had seen it mentioned on line), though I'm no great fan of Balalaikas I thought I'd go a tenner or so. And the cased acoustic, well it was tucked away under a table next to where I was sitting so I could see a bit, but I couldn't get it out and have a good look while the auction was going. Still it was a nice case if nothing else and I did think "if the case is that good, the Guitar should be OK too?" so I'd have a bid on that if it was cheap.

Well first up was the Balalaika, and though I did get a bid in it went for a lot more than the guide price and a lot more than I was willing to pay. A few lots later was the Star Caster and someone else in the room was interested too, but thankfully they dropped out fairly quickly and I won it for just over the low estimate, (which was a good thing as I still hadn't seen it and was prepared to go a lot higher). Next the cased Guitar, and I was the only bidder in the room, someone had put a commision bid in, but I went higher and paid what I though the case alone was worth. So I'd brought three Guitars and I hadn't really seen any of them! At this point the reality of it hit home; I hadn't really spent that much but there are other consideration than money. It's Ukulele Corner after all because Ukuleles are much smaller than Guitars so easier to find room for; and I can play the Ukulele and I can't really play the Guitar. So I left the hall at this point and went to paid for what I had won then found a porter to collect it so I could go home. First he got the Fender and the Hofner; and of course it was a black(!) Star Caster by Fender Stratocaster thing, not the semi-acoustic I was hoping for. Then since this wasn't a semi' neither was the Hohner, it was another strat copy (but at least this one was blond) from their Arbor series. Both Guitars had seen a LOT of experience, both need new strings, and some work done, and both are real pawn shop specials. There's nothing drastically wrong with them but I didn't really want another strat copy, I'm quite happy with the Power Play, and I especially didn't need another black strat copy, (still I suppose however tenuous this one is an actual Fender Stratocaster). Eventually we got the cased Guitar out, and this one, (and I later found out it was listed in the catalogue), was an E-Ros 606 Dakota Jumbo. Made in Italy by the Fuselli Brothers, (who also made Ekos), and the same model as the one Jimmy Page used to record the rhythm track for the song "Thank You" at Morgan Sound Studios in 1969. So a good Guitar? Well at least a reasonable Guitar? Well it may have been but there is a very bad crack in the neck at the headstock and along with all of the other faults, (needs a new tuner, new strings, a new nut, a fret dressing and possibly a full neck reset?), I'll be surprised if I ever get it playable again; still the case it good... (but as has been said to me since, "what do you need a Guitar case for?") and there was a good capo in the case, (but I don't really need a capo either). At the end of the day if I had seen any of them first I wouldn't have bothered with any of them. Well I hope I have learned the lessons now and I guess I am looking for new homes for at least two strat copies

Two out of three ain't bad...

posted 7 Jul 2016, 16:29 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 13 Jul 2016, 03:54 ]

Lanikai Lili'u
In fact it's exactly how I hoped it would work out!
What is coming this time is a Lanikai SOT-6 spruce top Tenor Lili'u, and it's coming from the same seller in Germany who is selling the LU2-8 as well. Basically what happened was the seller put up 3 Lanikai multi-string Tenors, this one the LU2-8 and a Lanikai SOT-8e, (the Taropatch in this range) all with a starting price of 1€ Now the SOT-8 was up first which was nice, probable the best of the three, (certainly the most expensive), and if I was only going to get one that would have been the best, but there was no guarantee I would get any and no reason why I couldn't bid on all three. Of course with this tactic I could have ended up with all three. this wouldn't have been that disastrous but I didn't really want two Lanikai Taropatch Tenors, nor did I really want the Taropatch and the Lili'u from the same range so the best outcome was to get the LU2-8 and the SOT-6; and this is exactly what has happened. Not quite the plain sailing though as I came second in the auction for this one; I was outsniped by 1€ and that is always a bitter pill to swallow but "c'est la vie". I was outsniped by the person who also won the auction for the SOT-8e and I don't know what happened, maybe they didn't cancel the second snipe having one the first, maybe they just changed their mind, (they didn't bid on the LU2-8?) Whatever the reason when I logged on today I found that I was getting a second chance offer for this, (and this was a bit lucky on my part because with the disappointment of yesterday i didn't bother logging on until late and when I found I had got the second change it was going to expire in 45 minutes!) Well whatever reason the original winner had, I was still up for two, especially as it was the two I wanted the most, so I said yes straight away and sent off the invite to Ukulele Corner

It's Here

and it too is very beautiful, if anything even more beautiful than the LU2-8 Taropatch. But then it is part of a higher spec more expensive range so it should be. What it is is a nice spruce top with abalone rosette and binding (very pretty), and an okume back and sides. Now I don't know okume as a wood and I don't have any other Ukuleles made with it but from this example it's a very pretty wood  a bit like maple but slightly golder in hue and with grain patterns to compete with the finest flame maple; as I say very pretty. its got a good tone too the spruce top does make it very different from the Asbury Lili'u; and the LU2-8 Taropatch obviously as a spruce top it's more trebly but the low A string does mellow out the sometimes strident tone from a spruce top. Once again as its new I need to let the strings stretch and settle quite a bit but its still fun to play with and I'm very glad I invited it.

I always said I would get one...

posted 6 Jul 2016, 05:53 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 12 Jul 2016, 03:24 ]

Lanikai LU2-8 Tenor Taropatch Ukulele
A Lanikai LU2-8 Taropatch Tenor that is, and this is what is now on the way to Ukulele Corner. When I brought the Kala Taropatch this was the model that I actually set out to buy but it was out of stock at the time and I ended up with the Kala as a substitute. Last year when I sold the old Ukulele Corner I was going to buy one of these to celebrate, (getting a fat wedge of cash), at a shop in Brighton; but I couldn't find the shop when I was in Brighton. Well this time one came up on eBay with a 1€ starting price, along with some other Lanikai Ukuleles, including, and going through first another Taropatch but from a higher spec range (thus weeding out at least one competitor:- I did bid on that one too but I bid more on this because this was the one I really wanted). and though it was more than 1€ at the end of the auction it was still a good price, better than if I had brought it either of the other times and this one is new too. I have seen Lanikai calling the LU range the "Legacy" range now I don't know if that means it has been discontinued and that was the reason for the block of auctions ? Whatever it's on its way to Ukulele Corner now and long overdue.

It's Here!!

And it is every bit as lovely as I had imagined (though well out of tune and I forgot how much "fun" tuning a Taropatch is; especially with new strings that are still stretching so the high G has gone at least a full tone out before you finish tuning the A strings!) I have managed to get in in tune for a bit though and got one and a half songs out of it before it was so badly out I had to start again; and it sounded great too. A little more bass perhaps than the Kala Taropatch but I will need to get the string to settle and then have a marathon tuning session to really compare the two. Enough writing - back to tuning...

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