California Style Banjo Ukulele , c. 1920

 California Style Banjo Ukulele ,  c. 1920
$275.00 + shipping
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Item # 11701
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California Style Model Banjo Ukulele, c. 1920, natural finish, pine rim, poplar neck, black gig bag case.

This is a nice example of the large and varied family of mostly simple integral-rim banjo ukes labeled "California-style" in the catalogs of the day. With a rim made of lock-jointed wooden blocks and the head tightened from inside this was a very low-cost design to manufacture. They were sold everywhere in huge numbers and played a large part in helping to launch the ukulele craze of the 1920s. Innumerable variations were made by the thousands in the late 1910s and early '20s with varying colors, finishes, and decorations.

This is one is plain but neatly made with a dark-finished rim and nicely carved burled resonator suspended over the back. The light-finished neck has pearl dot inlay and contrasting strips inlaid in the fingerboard. The tuners are typical composite-button friction pegs of the period. The instrument plays well and the sound is punchy but sweeter and mellower than more banjo-like banjoleles, sort of halfway to a wooden soprano uke. This is an unassuming but cool survivor about a century along, still fun to play and a great tagalong instrument to take anywhere.
Overall length is 20 1/4 in. (51.4 cm.), 5 3/4 in. (14.6 cm.) diameter head, and 2 1/8 in. (5.4 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 13 in. (330 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/4 in. (32 mm.).

Thus uke shows general wear but for being about 100 years old is looking pretty good, and fully playable. The finish has some general wear and tear, with a crack at the back seam of the rim and another across the back of the resonator. Neither are causing any ongoing issues. There is a hanging hole in the headstock that may be factory. The instrument plays very well and its plunky cheerful sound is an instant trip back to the early 1920s. Very Good + Condition.