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

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Ones That Got Away
maybe next time
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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...

Even More Cheek..

posted 30 Jun 2016, 15:36 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 14 Jul 2016, 08:22 ]

Not the greatest of pictures but what I have invited this time is a 1920ish Samuel Osborne Ukulele Co, Sammo with a crown headstock. I know it's 1920ish because Sam Osborne went bankrupt in 1923. When they were in business though they were suppose to be pretty good. Why it's cheeky is because this was another "Buy it now or best offer" and the offer I put in was very low compared to what the buy it now price was; I didn't really expect them to accept. I was going to see what kind of counter offer they came back with as see about serious negotiations from that. On ebay they didn't put up a good picture of the whole thing from the front but there was a lot of pictures and from them it all look  genuine and in very good condition for it's age. I hope it will be as good as the pictures suggest and once it it here I can take some nice pictures of it then and may be learn "Buddy can you spare a dime?" or even "sweet home Chicago"

It's Here

So I've taken a photo of it for this page, (but I am also leaving the old one on the right to show what I was complaining about in the paragraph above) It is pretty much as described. There is some separation on the back seam, and possibly a small crack in the back. I would also say the bridge has come off at some point but it has been firmly reattached now so I shan't worry any more about that. On the who though for a 95+ year old Ukulele it is in remarkably good condition! If the tuners aren't original they weren't put on very long after it was made and I am inclined to think they are original; they also work very well too (though the strings it came with are pretty crappy)what particularly impresses me about the condition though is the sound hole label. It has very little of the raggedness you usually see on labels of this age and does lend itself to you thinking the Ukulele is not as old as it is. there is no doubt t's genuine though. why would anyone fake a Sammo? If they were going to go to all that effort they would fake a Martin or a Gibson; or at least the better quality Samuel Osborne SammoS range? And it would cost a lot more than I paid for it to make a fake this good. And it is good; and I can get the back fixed firmly and it will be good for another 100 years.

This is what education gets you

posted 25 Jun 2016, 10:13 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 5 Jul 2016, 07:41 ]

What is on it's way to Ukulele Corner this time is a 1970 Villafan Soprano made in Paracho, Mexico for a teaching music on the Ukulele project run in the schools of Corpus Christi, Texas. I know all of this because I did some research on them, and I did some research on them because I had bid on the Ukulele having seen it on ebay, marked it for watching (as I had seen a couple on ebay over the years and so the brand was on my list of brands to research) and then seen it, despite the low starting price, be unsold and relisted. Given the low starting price and the fact that it was not a Japanese made Ukulele (not that there is anything wrong with a lot of Japanese made instruments of the period its just you see so many that they are not that interesting to get, especially all the way from the US), I thought I would have a small punt - not very much as shipping and import tax, (though this was still cheap enough there was no import tax), puts the price up - but no one bid last time so I thought it worth the starting price. And as no one bid the last time I thought I should find out more about it in case no one bid this time and it came to Ukulele Corner. I found out about the project in 1970 with Corpus Christi Schools and the Mexican Guitar maker Geronimo Villafan, which I added the the database; and no one bid again so it's on it's way.

It's Here!

And it's very much "Hecho En Mexico" (it says so on the sound hole stamp) The plastic fretboard does make it look a bit like a Harmony from a distance but it is clearly a very different Ukulele close up; it was constructed with a "Spanish Heel" neck joint for a start. Very different bridge, very different headstock well very different neck altogether; and it looks like there is a bit of a bow in it? Whether this is due to age or whether it was made like that I will probably never know as I doubt I'll see another one. Another question I can't answer at the moment is what the stickers that were on the back were, (the one on the headstock is in the same sort of place as "Made in Japan" stickers are on Japanese ukes of a similar vintage, but why would it have a made in Mexico sticker here as it already has the stamp in the sound hole?) or whether they were original or aftermarket add ons? (My guess would be aftermarket). You can see it was fairly cheaply made as along with being all laminate the body joints, though still firm, are rather visible That it's cheaply made is not to say it's not well made though, it is all still very solid for a 45 year old Ukulele and holds it tuning well too. As you can see getting in Ukulele Corner has been a bit of an education for me - Thank you Corpus Christi School Board
Another thing that I don't know if its aftermarket or not is the green vinyl carry bag? It's certainly contemporary with it and something I will keep in a safe place too. It's not a very good bag but it adds to the overall story. 

Not only but also...

posted 23 Jun 2016, 14:00 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 24 Jun 2016, 08:15 ]

Fender DG10 12 string folk Guitar at Ukulele Corner
So a real auction with real bidding and the Dean wasn't the only thing I got carried away on. I say all of the "Big Name" Guitars didn't go for a bargain price but that's not strictly true. All of the big name electric Guitars weren't bargains but there was this one and it's certainly big, it's a 12 string dreadnought; and it's a Fender too. It may not be the best of the Fender acoustic range but it's above a Squire. I have always fancied a 12 string, I don't know why? And with all these Guitars it will certainly look like I can play the Guitar. It certainly looks like I should sort Ukulele Corner out properly too, and whilst I still want to actually be present at an auction I must remember not to get carried away with bargains. there is only so much stuff I can bring home.

It's Here!!

and it's very BIG!!! (and it's very dirty too). The trip up to collect it wasn't bad and the place was a veritable "aladdin's cave" with the place in full swing for a photographic equipment auction  there were lots of interesting things so I didn't hang around otherwise I may have ended up spending more money. What I do need to do now is clean it, possibly re string it and practice with the 6 strings until I get a bit better because playing a steel strung 12 string is hard on my soft fingers but it does sound good when I strum it ;

I did a real auction.

posted 23 Jun 2016, 12:19 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 7 Jul 2016, 09:37 ]

Dean electric acoustic VCO_NT vee Guitar
Its one of those things that I have always planned to do - go to a real auction - and I almost did it. It was a entertainment speciality auction and it wasn't that far away. there were some interesting lots, (and a whole raft of old tat, used concert tickets, old flyers that sort of thing), including a white label Kamaka a 50th anniversary Telecaster and a couple of Les Pauls. I couldn't go because I had a dentist appointment, one I had been waiting for for 6 months, to have a couple of teeth pulled but I could watch online and I could put in some pre-bids just in case... So I went through the catalogue and put some pre bids on the Les Pauls and the Tele; way less than they were worth but just in case no one else was watching and they went for a "bargin" price? I also put a pre -bid on the Kamaka in case I didn't get the online thing to work  and a couple of other interesting Guitars; again just in case they went for what I thought would be cheap.  I did get the online thing to work though, and I was back from the dentist in plenty of time for the lots that I was interested in.  The Kamaka and the big name Guitars didn't go for a bargain price though, however some of the others did, including the "other " that I was most interested in which was this acoustic electric Dean Vee! I still can't play the guitar but this does look like something I can pose with big time and like some of my Ukulele this does look a lot of fun I'm looking forward to getting it.

It's Here!

And this is turning out to be a very busy day for arrivals at Ukulele Corner. The guitar is in perfect condition and came with a Dean padded soft case and a good Guitar strap, both of which I can find a use for too, especially since being an odd shape it doesn't sit nicely for playing on your lap. It does sit nicely for posing though and that is what I was going to do with it most, (I might try and resurrect my Guitar playing career too after all having invited more guitars to Ukulele corner I should try and pay them occasionally)

When it's gone it's gone.

posted 20 Jun 2016, 13:27 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 24 Jun 2016, 10:05 ]

laka vintage jhs butterfly soprano ukulele vus75
What is pictured here is the JHS "official" picture (photo but maybe with some photoshop or other image treatment?) of the Laka VUS75 "Butterfly wood" veneered Soprano, You don't see it on the JHS website now as the model is now discontinued but I have always thought it was a striking looking Ukulele and had always had it vaguely on my wishlist - it's wasn't that expensive and it wasn't that rare (still isn't) something to get if it was a bargin, (and I have come "second" on a couple of ebay auctions for them). Well when I was doing my research and asked JHS, they said "the VUS75 is unfortunately now discontinued, but we do have one left in our showroom and if you would like it you can have it for just..." Well The price was good but not spectacular and I do know of a few places to get hold of one, but nevertheless what i would be getting was the official last one ever. How could I say no? I haven't seen the actual Ukulele yet so I can only hope it is one with some dramatic patternation, after all showroom ones usually are, and it might even be the one used for the official picture. Whatever when it arrives I will love it and it will be the official last one so that will always add to its kudos (if ever it needed more kudos)

It's Here

And very deep it is too. It doesn't have to contrast of the publicity shot, (which really makes me think the publicity shot is majorly photoshoped) but it does have some pretty dramatic graining so it does look the business. and its well made and sounds good too; I'm very glad I got the Last One. I hope I can do it justice with the photographs and with the sound clips because it really is a very nice Ukulele

It's still Ukulele Corner, Honest

posted 4 Jun 2016, 09:02 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 30 Jun 2016, 15:40 ]

Nonchalantly walking past the pawnbrokers again, (as you do; not deliberately walking past the pawnbrokers in the hope that someone has had to pawn a nice ukulele...), and I noticed they had some new stock in. So having run the errands I was in town to do, and having spent less than I thought I was going to have to getting the skycar  M.o.T.ed for another year I thought I would just pop in for a look; after all one of them was a Banjolele. One of them was a nice USM Washburn B9 Banjo too, and in very nice condition nearly new looking, (not a mark that I could see on it) with a good Stagg Banjo hard case and at what I thought was a real bargain price. So much of a bargain price I thought "it won't stay around for long" so I asked about it; and as it's a pawnbroker's I asked for a fairly hefty reduction on the bargain price. Now I went in look expecting to have to come up a bit and meet in the middle but they said yes to my first offer so it's the second Banjo in a month coming home with me to Ukulele Corner, (and even with 2 Banjos in a month it's still Ukulele Corner). Perhaps I should have been even more optimistic with my first offer? (I will bare that in mind when I go back for the Banjolele...)

It's Here!

Well it has been for a couple of days now after all I brought it as soon as I saw it; well maybe 15 minutes after but quick enough that I was never going to have time to do this post before getting it. I was waiting on saying "It's Here" until I had time to take a nice photo of it and as I'm still learning to use the new camera with its myriad function setting this can be a job in itself! As it is the photo is ok but I think I could do better? One thing to say about it though is it is heavy, both to photograph and to play, I'm glad it came with a strap as well as a good case, (I photographed that too! And the case is heavy too!!)

Bit of a cheeky one

posted 3 Jun 2016, 07:38 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 9 Jun 2016, 08:50 ]

Mexican Martin laminate 0xb soprano at Lardy's Ukulele Database
When I first saw one of these I thought it was some kind of fake. A coloured Martin! And in red, green or blue!! Surely that should be "Martin Smith" or something? Surely they can't be faking the logo that much again? Surely something odd?!?  Anyway I checked it out and it is legit! One of Martin's 2015 special limited editions is in the 0X series and is a laminate Soprano in three colours and made of Bamboo (Bamboo is always laminate you don't get strips big enough to make anything from a single strip; but the technology is well proven, see the Vamboo for another example, and as a material it has very "green" sustainable credentials) Colour is a bit of a departure for Martin but they had already broken the laminate taboo for the 0XK so why not. So Martin are doing a Budget(? only for Martin would you call it budget), colourful Soprano! Now I'm a sucker for colourful Sopranos, (like many other things), so I wondered how much? After all it's very different from the normal Martins, it's a limited edition so production will stop soon and the old backpacker which was very different at the time and now unavailable has become something of a cult Ukulele and I predict this one is likely to in a few years too. Like I say, how much? I had trouble tracking one down in Europe, my usual places didn't have them but I found a top end eBay shop in Germany advertising them with a Buy it now / make an offer for the blue or green. Like I hinted earlier though, it wasn't cheap but I thought I would put a very cheeky offer in on the blue one; at least I tried. And, (and I'll remember how much under the asking price I went because they are a high end supplier so I may try again now as), my offer was accepted! I wonder if this one will smell like the Vamboo did when it was new?

It's Here!!

And no, it doesn't smell. It does sound good though; and it's very blue. Certainly not your traditional Martin but it is quality and I think it will become a classic one day

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