I had the urge to invite a multi necked chordophone to Ukulele Corner incorporating the Pony Guitar Sanctuary. I don't know what they are like to play but they look like they are good to pose with, (and not having played one before I am curious about them). There aren't that many about though, and most of the ones I see for sale are Guitar based, (either a 6 string electric Guitar with another chordophone, Bass, Mandolin even Ukulele, or the 6 string plus another Guitar option, Baritone, 12 string, 7 string, even electric / acoustic). When I went looking though I couldn't find any real 2nd hand bargains; I did see a nice electric-acoustic but it was a bit expensive. So the only other option was to look at new and there are a few Chinese made and branded ones out there that are not that expensive, (so they are probably ponies; but it is the Pony Guitar Sanctuary) .The one I liked best was the Harlem V 6 /12 doubleneck, not quite a Gibson V copy, but still more distinctive than most (though for some reason only available in Black) The only problem, as far as I was concerned was that it was branded by Gear4Music with their naff name and even naffer logo - but I could always paint over it or try and remove it, (I have read you can do this with Brasso?) still it did put me off buying one straight away. I thought "Gear4Music are a big chain so there is no rush to get one. I could wait until I had a lottery win, or possibly see something better?" so I waited.
What I did find in the waiting period though, (and maybe this was a good thing?) was that I would see other Guitars and be a bit tempted, but would then think " do I like this more that the Harlem?" and decide not to buy. None of them were good 1 time offers though, (so I still might get a Squire Baritone Jaguar at some point in the future); none of them until I saw the Rally Hurricane IIAR with its distinctive body shape and the aluminium full body scratch plate. Now I know Rally Banjos are good but I'd never really looked at their Guitars; apart from anything else you do really get Rally Guitars in the UK. I'd never seen one before and new that I would be unlikely to see one again, and that with the buy it now or best offer pricing it wouldn't be long before someone else saw it and bought it. As there was a Best Offer option I thought it was at least worth a cheeky bid. My first 2 offers were rejected but the seller then countered with a price that was slightly lower than what I was going to go to next, and a bit cheaper than the full asking price. I thought I had better buy it at this price but still had the "do I like it better than the Harlem?" quandry I solved this quandary by deciding to buy it as well . After all I did win the lottery last week, (even though its win a free ticket, its still a win) and when these two turn up it will feel like I have won the lottery again.
And the double neck is a bit of a beast! Well it's a lot of a beast actually and the Rally is a beast too. They are both quite heavy, clearly very solid and the shape is a little awkward. The Rally doesn't stand up very well and you have to be careful of the sharp corners of the metal. The Double Neck is not easy to play sitting down, particularly the 12 string neck and I am having trouble with the bridge pickup on the 12 string. I'm not entirely sure how you are suppose to switch between necks, it says on the publicity specifications the is a switch for this but I cant find one? I can get some switching between necks though, (though clearly only one at a time will play), if I tun down the volume on the 6 string neck the 12 string bridge pickup works and if I turn down the volume on the 12 string neck or switch to the neck pickup(?) the 6 string pickups work. If I leave both necks turned up, the one that was working last will work?? I have contacted the distributors about this and am waiting to see what they say, I had better not try and get rid of the Gear4Music logos yet though in case I have to send it back.
And in case I didn't make it clear the Rally works perfectly on all of the electrics - no worries there
To be exact its an Ibanez GRG-7221 with a limited edition white finish. It's one of those eBay auctions where I saw it and thought "that's still a bargain price and I would quite like a 7 string Guitar if it was to stay at a bargain price..." And it did!
Already!! Super quick posting or what?
It is very clean with no big scratches or anything, the electrics all work properly and it does have a very wide but nicely radiused slim profile neck to accommodate the extra low B string, (It could also, and this must mean my guitar playing is improving, do with some new strings). Now it's here I'm not quite sure what to do with the extra string? I guess do with it what you do on the high B string which is fine on say a G chord as you do nothing on the high B but it seems quite a bit trickier on a D or an A and I'm not sure is even possible with an F? Well I can hunt down some 7 string chord diagrams, I can work on my scales and lead breaks and I can pose like I'm Stevie Vai
before I can even write the anticipation paragraph!
It is very nice and very light for a Banjolele. It's largely original though it does have some interesting new amber tuners on, (but a good job has been done of fitting them and the look very nice). It doesn't say Oscar Schmidt on the pole but there is no doubt in my mind. its clearly vintage and definitely not a Harmony from when they brought the Stella brand name. It's quite small as well as light, with a 336mm, (13¼ in), scale. It has a couple of metal bands around the drum to strengthen it which is how the drum wood is so thin and the Banjolele weighs so little. The one problem, and its not really a problem, is the previous custodian was left handed so I'm going to have to re string it the right (handed) way round before I can play it
Whatever it is, I decided to put in a very, very small opening bid, and come the day of the auction I forgot it! (well I remembered first thing in the morning but it was lot 735 and as they were starting from lot 1. I figured it wouldn't go through until 5pm ish. I didn't remember at 5 though and when I remembered at 6:30 it had already gone through). Despite forgetting it though my initial bid was accepted; and unopposed - so I had won it! And for a lot less than it is going to cost to post!!
Once it arrives I will be able to get some answers about it. Not least is "is that corner pattern after market, and can I get rid of it?
and I know what it is now. It's a Project!
What it was originally, is an 8 string Mando Cello, however over the years it has lost it's tailpiece and 4 of the tuners, and is now strung as a short scale acoustic Bass. Now I would rather it was a Mando Cello and in order to achieve this I will have to replace the 4 missing tuners, (or possibly all 8 for the look of the thing?) Take off the piece of sheet metal that is currently there as an anchor for the strings and put a nice 8 string tailpiece on. Possibly replace the nut, (I'll know more once I have taken the string off and can see what is underneath). Possibly a new bridge? the one that is there is the original with an 8 string saddle so It might be OK, I will see once I take the strings off. Remove the horrible paint on the lower bout. Investigate what looks like some cracks by the bridge and work out what is going on under the pickguard thing below the sound hole. Then of course give it a good clean and restring it with proper Mando Cello strings so I can have a go at playing it. So not much then, barely a project at all.
and if this is sold as "tourist tat" there is a much better class of tourist on Tenerife than I suspected, this is pretty well made. The back is a lovely piece of work with a proper "Spanish Heel"and a solid soundboard, (still not sure if its spruce or pine though but it is soft. there are plenty of plectrum marks on it). There is a label in the soundhole that tells me, (in Spanish) that it was made especially for "La Casa la Guitarra" (the house of Guitars) in Santa Cruz. Now I have looked it up on the Internet and I can see that it is a proper music shop but I have found no information beyond that, there is no website for them. It has proper gauge Timple strings on, (though they don't feel particularly wonderful) and reflects the strange re-entrant Timple tuning G~c~E~A~D
I also like 'em obscure too so I had a bid in on a Reed of Chicago Soprano form the first half of the 20's (Reed moved out of Chicago in 1926). The seller says it needs a neck reset so it was starting cheap with cheap postage from Trumpton, and as you don't see them very often I took a punt. Not quite unopposed this time but only one other person tried and they didn't try very hard so it's on the way to Ukulele Corner
Well the Melody Major is here and it's every bit as fat as I thought it would be. It's neck is a bit wider than the Melody Ukes though so there is still a question mark on whether it was sold as a Banjolele or a Banjolin? It came with nylon strings and a Ukulele tuning but the nylon strings don't seem to drive the head enough so it does sound a bit flat and weedy for its size. I'm sure I have some steel strings to put on, and that will sort out the weediness. I don't know what the pickguard thing is all about? Its in totally the wrong place to be useful as a pickguard, though it does seem to mark out where the bridge should go? Given it's size if the referb'er wanted to stick extra bits of metal to the rim, an arm rest would be a lot more useful. (I may have to see about getting one as the arm on the head doesn't help with the weediness either) Looks wise I really can't fault it though, (apart from the pick guard and I can take that off; the only reason I haven't yet is I am still trying to work out if it is there to do something and I just haven't worked out what yet?)
What I have invited here is a spruce top, plastic backed Mini from Enya. I believe it is part of their Kaka brand but it only says "Ka" on the headstock and it has a laser etched and cut pony as a sound hole. I still have a very soft spot for Minis and I thought the Pony was a sign, (and it was very cheap - once again I was looking in the buy it now section of ebay for some Uke of the day pictures, was going to use this as it looked cute but then thought "never mind just liking the picture, at that price I might as well "buy it now" and now it on its way to Ukulele Corner incorporating the Pony Guitar Sanctuary)
Super quick and delivered on a Sunday! It must be the Pony Express.
It is a Kaka, (all of the factory packaging says so even if nothing on the Ukulele itself does). It is a Mini, scale length 286mm (or a fraction over 11 inches), and the spruce top is laminate, (but for the price I paid that's not a surprise). The plastic back is very solid and rigid, and looks like it and the neck was all cast as one piece? It is surprisingly heavy for a Mini but it is surprisingly loud for a Mini too, with a lot more tone for it's size. I don't know if this has anything to do with the volume but it has come with, without doubt the biggest, highest factory saddle I have ever seen on a Ukulele. This gives it quite a high action and doesn't help the intonation up the neck, I am going to have to reduce it by a half probably, (If I could cut it neatly enough I could probably make two sensible saddles from it; but I'm sure its too hard to cut). It also came with quite a funky vinyl Kaka branded carry bag, not padded, but quite thick so offers some protection.
All in all I'm very pleased with this, the Pony is not "Pony" at all
But what about the 59 I'd had a punt on? well I'd forgotten about it messing about with the 64s and it must have had some kind of "forget about me" hex on it because no one else picked up on it and a few hours later I had the 59 too! Quite a bit cheaper than the 64 but this one is being shipped so the shipping costs put the price up a bit. So like I said at the beginning, "I Dano what came over me" but within a week I've gone from no Danelectros, (apart from the Honeytone amp), and no major ambition to get one, to inviting two! I still need to invite a Baritone Guitar though...
And they are even more lovely than I was expecting. They both look almost new though I was told the 64 is a 2008 model and the 59 is at least 5 years old and I'm loving the almost matt, kind of plasticy (without being cheap) finish on them along with the gun metal anti chrome metalwork. They do look distinctive and unlike any other Guitar. They feel like quality to play too, very solid but very light definitely more robust than the originals. The electrics are reliable too with no hums or crackles just a great sound (well as good a sound as my talent allows). I am very impressed with the re-issue Danos and with their distinctive styling I can easily see how one can end up with a collection of them. I would have no trouble inviting another one, especially if it was a Baritone; or the 6 / 12 double neck, and on the quality of these I wouldn't say no to a Bass either, (Still think I wouldn't get an original without having a good go on it first)
There is a very large Guitar auction tomorrow and I have sent quite a few invitations to Ukulele Corner incorporating the Pony Guitar Sanctuary. If they all come, this will seem like a very small post!
Anyway chickens hatching, birds in bushes and all that, there were 3 auctions today that also featured nice chordophones and whilst I got nowhere in a couple of them I did have some success in the last one
First, and the one that I was originally after, was a nice looking Dallas B Banjolele with the George Formby headstock and its original case. I'm no fan of the George Formby headstock, (apart from the one on the E's), but apart from that I'm sure its a nice London made instrument from the time Dallas still produced their own Banjos. after winning this there was a couple of 5 string banjos I was vaguely tempted on but they started at the low estimate, (which was to high for me), and the auctioneer past them unsold rather than drop the price to a level I would have bid on (after all I would have to go there anyway to get the Dallas - I since I am going there I may enquire about the fate of the unsold Banjos?). Then came a J.G.Abbott 5 string Zither Banjo (with the hidden channel and the 6 tuners; supposedly for symmetry) Now I know Abbott is suppose to be the best British Banjo maker of the time and that the instruments usually go for a lot of money, so when the auctioneer started at the low end of the estimate, (and they didn't know Abbott was suppose to be the best so even the high end of their estimate was very low) I thought it was worth a punt. As with the other Banjos, no one else bid, not even the person who had bid against me for the Dallas, so with the maiden bid the J.G. Abbott is coming to Ukulele Corner incorporating the Pony Guitar Sanctuary too.
While we are on the subject of no-one bidding against me, later in the day I had the same thing happen on an eBay bid. In this case its a Ron Jon Surf Shop Soprano (I believe they are small Sopranos but I will have to check when it gets here). Now I know these are suppose to be very crappy tourist trash but they are very colourful and I have always kind of liked them: after all it's not the first time I have invited tourist trash to Ukulele Corner.
Well the Guitar Auction Storm is over and it turned out to be a storm in a teacup! 280 Guitars plus amps , spare parts and other Guitar related stuff; and none of it is coming to Ukulele Corner incorporating the Pony Guitar Sanctuary. Those chickens never hatched.
Those that I did win: well the Banjos anyway. While I was out collecting the Banjos the postman came with the Ron Jon but as I wasn't in and it needed signing for he only left me a note and will come back later with the parcel.. The 2 banjos are here though because I went up and collected them. The Dallas is in reasonable shape, it does have a dodgy replacement tuner, (or possibly three replacement tuners? I don't know which is original but they are all fairly old). It also has a big rip in the vellum so it will need replacing; as will the strings it came with. The Abbott is really lovely though, it didn't come with a case but it is still in very good nick with reasonable strings on. It also has a surprisingly good tone, far better than I was expecting; the Abbott reputation is well founded it would seem. The only issues are the frets could do with dressing and someone (from the look of it years ago) stuck a hook into heel of the neck where the stamp is, to attach a strap. not much of a problem but it did go in right where they stamped the model number and I would like to have known the model number
The Ron Jon is here too and it is very colourful but as I suspected, not very high quality. Still it is better than some of the tourist affairs that live at Ukulele Corner and does function perfectly well even it the action is a bit high and it doesn't sound that great The tuners work and hold fine, the intonation is ok and the bridge is both solid and actually quite good. Speaking of quite good, the other thing that has impressed me about this Ukulele is the quality of the decoration on the soundboard! It is spot on and far better than the decoration on some more expensive models.
Next day, the auction, 26 Guitars plus some amps, (now I really need a Bass combo, the Fender doesn't like it at all when I put a bass through it), and a good drum kit, (yes I looked at coming out of retirement!!!)
Most of the Guitars and amps; and the drumkit, (so I'm still retired), turned down my invitation to Ukulele Corner incorporating the Pony Guitar Sanctuary But not all. What is coming is a semi-hollow Tanglewood TomKat TE6JH from about 2000, (now discontinued) and a Gremlin Blue Moon BM05 Mandola with a solid spruce top, (it's possibly made by Hora and also discontinued
And they are all very lovely. The Mandola is Chinese made so it not from Hora so I don't know if its solid top or laminate? It doesn't really matter though it sounds good and the extra size makes it a lot easier for me to play than the Mandolins with their tiny fretboards. I think this will be the one that I learn to play the mandolin on. it also came with a good gigbag that will take any of my Banjoleles if I need it to; which is handy
The Traban is definitely quality, great electrics great spalt maple veneer but it is a big bass with a great BIG shiny bridge. Good job I have that Bass combo at the moment though, because this can seriously rumble!
The TomKat on the other hand seems quite small for a Guitar? Maybe because I have been playing all of those big Archtops recently? what is certainly the case, and this is something I read in the reviews, it is very light for a guitar. I'm not convinced yet about the whammy bar, it seams a little flimsy after the Bigsby on the WildKat. I can't judge too much at the moment though as it badly needs new stings, (if nothing else there is only 5 of them). It also needs a good clean, (as does the Mandola but the Traban is not too bad), so I'll strip off the old strings give it a good clean and put a new set on then fire it up and see if the whammy bar does perform
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