The Ukulele Dude’s Ukuleles

Ukulele Addiction Syndrome (UAS) is a very real problem for many ukulele players. The different sizes, multitude of shapes and materials makes it hard to decide what you like best. Add in the very different tones and sounds produced by the different woods and materials makes it even more difficult to choose an instrument.

The Ukulele Dude's Collection of instruments

Each of these will become the subject of a separate blog post here, hopefully complete with a sound sample video.

Here is a portion of my collection, past and present. Many of these can be seen in my YouTube videos about my instruments.

My Ukulele Collection

My Ukulele Collection – Part Dieux

Ever since I had the Lyon & Healey repaired by David Talsma (pictured further down below) I’ve wanted one of his instruments. I finally picked it up the end of October two years ago.

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You can see the full progression of the build here: Talsma Custom Build Sequence.
The features include:

Solid Mahogany body
Gloss Finish
Ebony head plate
Back stripe
Ebony Bridge
17 Frets – silver nickle
Ebony Fretboard
1 3/8’s wide fret board
Gotoh geared planetary tuners
Pentelope Inlay on face
Rechargeable MiSi pickup
Custom Inlay on head
Brazilian Rosewood bindings and rosette
Custom fret markers
harmony1stuke
My first ukulele, obtained through eBay. It arrived with just three strings on it and they were gut. I always thought it was probably a Harmony from about the 1950’s.  Recently another person was able to connect it!  It was made by Harmony, but was purchased by the Richter Company in the 1940’s.  Fred Richter was an artist and would decorate them with custom painting and stencils such as this. I immediately put a set of Martin strings on it.

Traditional Sunburst

Soprano – Laminate

Currently I have restrung the instrument with gut strings, giving it a real vintage feel and sound.  You can see a video of it on my YouTube channel.

My first brand new ukulele was this Lanakai. I purchased it from Amazon using a gift card I had won from a WikiAnswers.com AnswerThon contest. I was a bit disappointed with the knot in the wood on the soundboard, but I’m sure that was the reason it was sold the way it was, no one in the shop would have purchased it, but when you do it by mail order, you get the “actual instrument will vary” bit and “wood is a varied substance and no two are alike.” And I’ve decided that the Tenor is a bit larger than I really like, and prefer the concert size.

Lanikai Tenor – LU-21T

Satin natural finish

Tenor – Laminate

Aquila Nylgut

I used this instrument on the Paul McCartney Tribute Video collaboration I was honored to participate in.

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Photo by Dave Talsma

Lyon & Healy Catalog entry:

1923-24 Series

STYLE 702. Very choicest figured Nyssa wood, a beautiful satin finish. Black celluloid binding on front and back, patented raised soundhole. Black inlay in head and on heel. Attractive decolcomania Maple leaf design below bridge. Rosewood fingerboard. Dainty appearance, beautiful tone. Each . . . . .$21.00

This was given to me without a bridge. I wasn’t sure what I had and asked Dave Passant what to do with it. He recommended taking it to Dave Talsma for repair. Dave did a great job replacing the bridge and cleaning it up. He took this picture to show me the results. Check out his amazing craftsmanship at Dave Talsma Instruments. This really sounds great!

Lyon & Healy – Washburn 702

Soprano

Martin Strings

Nyssa wood is pear wood. The sides and back are three ply and the top is solid.

The Washburn name has been sold several times and is now used by the Oscar Schmidt Company for their ukulele line.

This is my go to standard ukulele for when I’m looking for that traditional bright and high ukulele sound.

This is the first ukulele I purchased from a shop. We had been able to cash some vacation days out and I wanted to buy an instrument that I got to play before I purchased it. After putting together my list of wants, I worked through the available instruments on the Elderly Instrument’s web site. When the counterman brought up the first three on the list, he had a fourth box, and said it had just come in and hadn’t been set-up yet. Inside was this beauty and I fell in love immediately!

Ohana – SK35-GS

Concert size – Gloss finish
South Coast Strings – Medium Soft

I use this one for teaching kids’ classes

Badaax Soprano – Acoustic-Electric

I was blown away by this little gem. For under $40 you get a very nice instrument. And it has a pick-up and adjustments on it!

Often take this as a loaner when teaching.

Banjolele – Unknown make and model. Purchased in a lot of two instruments that needed work on eBay. I obtained a new bridge, a new set of tuners and new strings. After a lot of elbow grease cleaning it up, I sold the instrument on eBay and used a video to drum up sales, which you can view at Five Foot Two on YouTube.

NO LONGER OWNED

banjoleleproject
The project set I purchased on eBay. The one on the right is the one above. The Capital is on the left in both pictures.
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Capital Banjolele – The other instrument purchased in the set of two. Some of the j-hooks had to be replaced as well as the tuners and bridge, so it is a mish mosh of parts and time frames. The fret makers are actually little stickers that can be removed easily.

NO LONGER OWNED

blackfluke
Fluke – Lava Black

Aquila Nylgut

Purchased from eBay, I had heard lots of good things about these instruments. The biggest deal was that they were rated to sound as good as instruments that cost a great deal more.

I’ve taken this to the West coast with me and often take it to picnics and outdoor type events.

This was another eBay purchase. It was really inexpensive and I got it for minimum bid. I think the shipping cost more than the actual instrument.

Jisheng or Shojing  – Giant Tenor (Baritone) – Made in Guangzhou, China.

Aquila Nylgut strings.

baritone1
kalaabbie
Kala KA-15S

Soprano

Purchased this on Craig’s List. Solid mahogany top with a really nice sound. It has a set of GHS strings on it.

It is the soprano sized instrument that I play the most and hangs on the table beside my chair in the living room.

Luxor Prince Banjolele

Actually made by Globe, these were sold under the label Horenstein & Sons Co., New York in 1929-30.

I got it as a project instrument from eBay. The new tuners and bridge were easy to obtain. Finding a tail piece that would work was more of a challenge. Everything I could find was designed for the j-hook design. I finally spotted one I thought would work on a modern instrument and was able to purchase one. I had to make a slight modification to get this one to work, but it sounds great!

The top picture is how the instrument arrived.

luxorasreceivedbanjolele
luxorreworkedcropped

The bottom is how it looks today.

Bought this used from a friend, mainly because it was koa, and despite all of the instruments I have, this is the only koa wood ukulele that I own! He gave it up as he has a couple of custom instruments that he plays now. Came with the case, too!

Lanakai

Concert

South Coast Strings

This sits in a stand next to the desk in my office and gets played most work days.

Picked this up from a friend who basically gave it to me for a cup of coffee. It has some issues, the bridge popped off, but it has been re-glued, however, it left a few missing splinters, so it doesn’t look very good. It plays just fine!

Soprano

About 1960

 My birthday present a couple of years ago! I’ve used this on stage at The Shine at our church and a couple of other gigs when I have to be amped.

Epiphone – Les Paul

Concert Acoustic-Electric – Passive pick-up.

 This is a Silvertone ukulele, probably from the early 60’s. It had some condition issues and the head and neck have been rebuilt, so the logo is missing. It sounds pretty amazing considering the challenges it has had! The instrument came with the case and was purchased at an ukulele garage sale. Yes, a garage sale with nothing but ukuleles!

Silvertone

Baritone

Aquila Nylgut

sticktenor

Custom ‘Stick’ – Tenor Electric – Aquila Nylgut strings – Purchased through eBay. This has no sound box, just an extension with a pick-up in it. The neck is a bit wide, but it makes only a little noise when played without an amp, which can be good for practicing when you don’t want to bother other people or call attention to yourself. The action is high, but it came with full instructions on how to adjust it. I was pleased to receive the gig bag as well!

Woodstock Instruments – Sopranino – I did a video review of this instrument. Note how the neck is off center, as is the bridge, and the strings don’t go over the sound hole properly.

This 13 foot ukulele is listed as the largest in the World according to The Guinness Book of World Records.  It served as the concert stage backdrop for Mighty Uke Day 5 and 6. It is fully playable!

I also had a Eddy Finn EF-5-C Concert Ukulele in Mahogany Brown that I purchased on eBay, but it has been sold. NO LONGER OWNED.

sopranino

Picked this up at Target! It is a sopranino size, the distance from bridge to nut is ten inches and a full 12 frets!.
It comes as a craft kit to paint and sticky paper to make your own design. The tuners need some work and I’ll see if I can get it operational.

Additional instruments that I need to get pictures of and post. They include among others a Style 1 1920’s Martin, a pocket ukulele, a pineapple, an Aklot (reviewed on the blog pages), and a Harmony baritone.