Over 45 years of Experience and Expertise with Ukuleles and Banjo Ukes


FOR SALE - BANJO UKES





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ALL ABOUT THE BANJO UKE by John Croft (2018). Top quality large 300 page hardback book with attractive dust jacket, all printed on very high quality paper in order to show the detail in all the photographs. Together with its high quality stitched and glued binding this book has a hefty net weight of over 1.9 kg (Packed weight just over 2 kg).


This book details the history of the banjo uke from its invention by John Bolander to its further development by the Keech brothers, through to the great vintage manufacturers of Ludwig, Gibson, Abbott and Bacon (including Bacon & Day). High quality colour photos and details of the companies and the instruments that they made abound, and there is much more information and photographs about other great makers past and present. This book also includes information about the great case makers as well as the ownership of George Formby’s banjo ukes, and it is also full of interesting facts and stories about a multitude of people (including a chapter on George Harrison). After seven years in the making I’m very proud to have been told that this book is a genuine ‘MUST HAVE’ for anyone interested in the banjo uke. £40.00.


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VEHICLE NUMBER PLATE ‘843 UKE’ FOR SALE.

* Please phone me for further details on 01691 828850 or email me at theukuleleman.com@gmail.com.


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BANJO UKE: FORMERLY OWNED BY GEORGE FORMBY AND DISPLAYED IN THE ‘CHINESE ROOM’ OF HIS HOME ‘BERYLDENE’, MAINS LANE, LITTLE SINGLETON. (DETAILED BELOW).


GEORGE FORMBY OWNED BANJO UKE. With FULL PROVENANCE including an an original signed, dated and very detailed letter from the former owner telling of how his family got to know George Formby as well as information about how he acquired the instrument. The instrument is a ‘Melody Uke’ made by George Houghton & Sons of Birmingham. Black in colour it has been beautifully decorated on the back of the resonator with a raised and stunningly painted oriental scene over what appears to be a base of gold lacquer. This process is known as ‘Japanning’ and for many years the Birmingham & Wolverhampton areas were the centre of this particular industry. The decoration is 3D in nature and would have been extremely expensive to have done. This instrument was specially made to hang in Formby’s ‘Chinese Room’ on the first floor of his home ‘Beryldene’ in Mains Lane, Little Singleton (near Poulton-le-Fylde), and George Formby gave this to the former owner (then a young boy aged 9 or 10 years old) probably whilst he was in the process of preparing ‘Beryldene’ for sale prior to moving house in 1945 and thereby not requiring the decorated banjo uke for his room for much longer. George Houghton and Sons designed and manufactured the ‘Dallas’ range of ‘George Formby’ banjo ukes and Formby had extensive contacts with the company since 1936. Formby may well have asked Houghton’s to get the back of the resonator of an inexpensive instrument decorated in a Chinese style in order to show it on the wall of his ‘Chinese Room’ as a purely decorative item.

* Please phone me for further details on 01691 828850 or email me at theukuleleman.com@gmail.com.


A DOOR from George Formby’s ‘Chinese Room’ on which is painted the image of a large dragon. SOLD


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*** BANJO UKES *** I have seen a number of nice vintage banjo ukes that need some TLC to bring them back to their best, but they are definitely restorable and are nowhere near being anything like basket cases. They include a lovely J. R. Stewart ‘Le Domino’ banjo uke from c.1927, and a number of William Lange instruments plus lots of others. A chance to own some nice banjo ukes (sold individually or collectively).

* Please phone me for further details on 01691 828850 or email me at theukuleleman.com@gmail.com.


(Abbott Made ‘WILL VAN ALLEN’ Banjo Uke (c.1926). Made by J. G. Abbott & Co. under the name ‘Will Van Allen - New Revelation’ and sold to the music shop in Charing Cross Road, London, run by two well-known entertainers and banjo players William Dodds and Olly Oakley. This is a long-scale instrument and it shares same pot and neck as the large resonator model. Original tuning pegs. Original transfer label on the headstock. Fourteen hooks, nuts and shoes. Star-shaped convex resonator on the back with a central button. Comes with a gig bag. £395.

* The above details and the photos were provided by the owner.

* Please phone me for further details on 01691 828850 or email me at theukuleleman.com@gmail.com.


ABBOTT ‘MONARCH’ Banjo Uke (c.1927). This is a very rare and highly desirable banjo uke and in genuinely stunning condition - especially when one remembers that it’s 94 years old! £5,500. SOLD


BEDDOES ‘NEW CONCERT’ GIBSON UB-2 STYLE Banjo Uke (c.1978). Light to hold, easy to play and with a great playing action, this is a fine looking and gorgeous sounding Ron Beddoes ‘New Concert’ banjo uke and this one is a slightly later example of his bottom-tension design made loosely in the style of a Gibson UB-2. Straight neck and no wear to the frets or the fingerboard. Modern replacement tuning pegs. Plated ‘NC’ (New Concert) metal logo on peghead. Original nut. Spliced neck. Sixteen-fret ebony fingerboard bound along each side and inlaid with multiple mother-of-pearl dots. Fourteen bottom-tension hooks and shoes shoes around the pot. Tailpiece fixed to the body therefore it will always remain in the same position. Old vellum in great condition. Gibson UB-2/3 style resonator with binding around the outside edge. Modern lockable hard shaped case with black exterior and grey internal plush velvet padded lining with internal pocket and lid (lock key inside), into which this banjo uke fits perfectly. £950.


***DALLAS ‘C’ MODEL Banjo Uke (c.1939). *** If you have have an interest in the autographs of stars from days gone by then this banjo uke could be the one for you. The original vellum has sixteen original hand-written autographs on it which include such stars as Nat Gonella, Godfrey Winn, Sandy Powell, Frank Randle, Tommy Handley, and Max Miller, as well as its original stencilled pencil autograph of George Formby. This banjo uke has ten hooks, shoes and nuts and is in original condition, with has an attractive ‘sunburst’ finish which has some flaking in places (common on old original ‘C’ Models). It also has its original  black hard shaped case (with blue lining and an internal pocket with lid) which appears to be in pretty good condition for its age. The owner says that he will supply a brand new vellum with this instrument at no extra cost should the buyer want to remove and preserve the old autographed vellum. £550.

* The above details and the photos were provided by the owner.

* Please phone me for further details on 01691 828850 or email me at theukuleleman.com@gmail.com.


GIBSON UB-2 Banjo Uke (c.1927). With a re-finish of real quality this Gibson is in great condition. The bonus is that it has all of its correct original fittings, with the original vintage Grover tuning pegs (in perfect original condition) inside the pocket of the Grafton hard shaped case. Even the fitted tuning pegs are of high quality. This Gibson produces a stunning sound and it has a straight neck with pristine frets and playing positions on the fingerboard - which is inlaid with three mother-of-pearl position dots. It still has the original ‘The Gibson’ (in silver) at the top of the peghead, fourteen original flatted tension hooks, nuts and shoes, as well as the original ‘Nashville’ tailpiece, and it’s fitted with an Eddie Uttley non-tip maple bridge. The finish on the resonator does show some signs of minor crazing but as you can tell from the photographs it is not readily apparent. It comes complete with a lockable black ‘Grafton’ hard shaped case with plush grey padded lining. £1,475.


GIBSON UB-2 Banjo Uke (c.1928). £1,550. SOLD


GIBSON UB-3 Banjo Uke (c.1927). £1,850. SOLD

 

‘Big Resonator’ GIBSON UB-3 Banjo Uke (c.1927). Hard to find and highly desirable ‘Big Resonator’ Gibson UB-3, which has the extended resonator and the diamond-shaped holes in the flange. ‘Big Resonator’ Gibson UB-3’s are more powerful than the standard ‘flat back resonator’ types and have always been popular with professional entertainers and musicians including George Formby (who owned three of them), Tessie O’Shea, Alan Randall, and Andy Eastwood. With the exception of the vellum the strings and the bridge this banjo uke is completely original inside and out - including its very rare Gibson black hard shaped case with pale blue lined and padded interior and an internal pocket with the Gibson diamond-shaped logo embossed onto the top of the pocket lid. This banjo uke can be seen in the top photograph on page 166 of my book ‘All About The Banjo Uke’. Made of North American maple this banjo uke has an arrow straight neck with light wear to the first three frets and some very light wear to the first two playing positions of the rosewood fingerboard. Original Grover friction tuning pegs. ‘The Gibson’ in silver at the top of the peghead. ‘Snowflake and diamond’ mother-of-pearl decoration inlaid into the middle of the peghead with multiple mother-of-pearl position dots inlaid into the fifteen-fret fingerboard. Original Gibson nut. Original nickel-plating all in excellent condition. All the cream-coloured ivoroid binding is original and un-blemished. Some lightening of the original staining under the neck, but this is not wear down to the bare wood because the original finish remains intact above it. Desirable laminated pot construction. Original nickel-plated metal flange with fifteen diamond-shaped holes. Original Grover tailpiece. Resonator has the less common (but original) three-point thumbscrew mounting to the flange. This instrument has never been re-finished and is a fantastic example of its type. Wonderful playing action and fabulous sound. £3,000.


‘Big Resonator’ GIBSON UB-3 (c.1927). £3,250. SOLD


GIBSON UB-5 Banjo Uke (1928). Top-of-the-range Gibson banjo uke made of burl walnut. Serial No. 8945-5 stamped on the inside of the pot and chalked onto the outside edge of the  inside of the resonator. Original and unrestored, this banjo uke is in beautiful condition for its age. Straight neck with no wear to the fingerboard and just a small amount of very light wear on the first two frets only. Original gold-plated ‘Grover’ friction tuning pegs. ‘The Gibson’ and a central decorative motif inlaid into the peghead in mother-of-pearl both still with their original thin covering of gold-tinted lacquer (put over the peghead mother-of-pearl inlays by Gibson to complement the gold-plating). Original Gibson nut. Sixteen-fret rosewood fingerboard inlaid with attractive mother-of-pearl decorations. Neck bound with cream/black/cream ivoroid binding. Tone-ring on top of the eight inch diameter pot. Sixteen original Gibson flatted hooks, nuts and shoes. Original bezel with original Grover ‘Presto Ideal’ tailpiece with a hinged cover. Flange decorated with fifteen diamond shaped holes. Resonator mounted to the pot with four hexagonal nuts. All metal parts inside and out are original and still have their original matt gold-plating. The resonator is decorated around the edge with cream/black/cream ivoroid binding. The excellent old calfskin vellum is stamped ‘Velvet’. The three-footed ebony-tipped maple bridge  and the strings are contemporary. After 92 years the gold-plating shows some wear and tarnish here and there, but generally speaking it is in remarkable condition for its age. This instrument fits perfectly into its original black hard shaped ‘Kant-Krack’ case (made for Gibson by Geib & Schaefer) with internal pocket and lid and padded blue plush velvet interior lining. £3,300.


JOHN GREY ‘ROY SMECK’ SUPER MODEL Banjo Uke (c.1933). (Roy Smeck was a brilliant musician from the U.S.A. known as ‘The Wizard of the Strings’). This banjo uke is the top-of-the-range of the four ‘Roy Smeck’ banjo ukes (and only the third example that I have ever seen). It is beautifully made, highly polished figured Australian maple veneered body with an extended resonator and ivoroid binding around the edges. One piece all metal patterned flange extending to the resonator. Aluminium under-hoop with extra heavy straining bezel and eight hooks and nuts. Pressure bar tailpiece with hinged string cover. Five layer sycamore and ebony spliced walnut neck with two layer ebony faced seventeen-fret fingerboard with ivoroid binding. Fingerboard inlaid with multiple mother-of-pearl decorations. Original ‘Ebonite’ buttoned friction tuning pegs. All metal parts heavily chrome-plated. Original metal badge on top of peghead. This banjo uke is in immaculate original condition as is its fantastic original luxury hard shaped case with internal pocket, and all lined in beautiful padded cobalt blue velvet. It still has its superb original and top quality ‘Jos B. Rogers Jnr.’ calfskin vellum complete with ‘Roy Smeck’ pencilled autograph. Brilliant value for money. £850.


LUDWIG ‘WENDELL HALL PROFESSIONAL’ Banjo Uke (c.1927). £1,895. SOLD


LUDWIG ‘WENDELL HALL PROFESSIONAL’ Banjo Uke (c.1927). In beautiful condition for its 94 years. Made of American Walnut throughout. Straight neck and almost no wear to the frets and fingerboard. Sixteen-fret ebony fingerboard with four inlaid mother-of-pearl position dots. Original tuning pegs. Replacement ‘Wendell Hall Professional’ transfer on a beautifully re-finished peghead. Original nickel-plating in great condition and original  removable armrest and tailpiece. Sixteen original top-tension bolts. Original transfer around the side of the resonator still complete and in great condition. Original ‘Wendell Hall’ paper label still attached to the inside of the resonator. Original ‘Ludwig’ top quality calfskin vellum in fantastic condition for its age (stamped on the back). Original cream coloured ivoroid binding around the side of the resonator. Lovely playing action and great sound. Complete with modern lockable hard shaped case with plush black velvet padded lining and internal pocket (containing the keys) with lid. £1,850.


LUDWIG WENDELL HALL PROFESSIONAL Banjo Uke (c.1927). This banjo uke has been beautifully restored and comes with a very attractive ‘sunburst’ finish on the back of the resonator and the back of the neck. Made of American Walnut throughout. Straight neck and no wear to frets and just a few small in-filled areas on the first few playing positions. Sixteen-fret ebony fingerboard with four inlaid mother-of-pearl position dots. Original period vintage ‘Grover’ friction tuning pegs. Original ‘Wendell Hall Professional’ transfer on peghead. Original nickel-plating in great condition with original removable armrest and tailpiece. Sixteen original top-tension bolts. Part of the original ‘Wendell Hall’ paper label is still attached to the inside of the resonator. Great calfskin vellum. Original cream ivoroid binding around the bottom side of the resonator. The last owner only parted with it in order to buy an even higher grade instrument. Great playing action and wonderful sound. Comes complete with modern lockable hard shaped case with plush black padded lining and an internal pocket (containing the key) with lid. £1,875.


MARKENDALE GIBSON UB-3 COPY Banjo Uke (1992). Just Arrived. Complete with its original Certificate of Manufacture signed and dated by Gordon Markendale, the serial number ‘002’ shows that this banjo uke was only the second one of this style that he ever made. This is a great sounding example in absolutely stunning MINT original condition, with a straight neck and no faults whatsoever! The ‘snowflake and diamond’ inlays and the ‘sunburst’ finish are both extremely attractive, but an extra bonus is that this instrument comes complete with a superb lockable, made-to-measure, plush lined hard shaped case, with internal padding and pocket with lid. Only a few of these lovely cases were imported from the USA by Dave Barnes and were sold by him and Eddy Uttley for £150 each. They sold like hot cakes! This banjo uke and case are both in pristine condition. £1,575.


RON SPIERS ‘SUPREME’ Banjo Uke (1986). A superb original example of one of Ron Spiers top banjo ukes. Before moving to live near Bath, Ron Spiers lived near Ruislip (Middlesex) and he knew Ron Beddoes who lived nearby. When Ron Beddoes decided to finish making banjo ukes due to ill health, Ron Spiers bought his tools and equipment and started to design and make banjo ukes of his own - very much in a similar style to the very popular ‘New Concert’ banjo ukes that Ron Beddoes had successfully made. These instruments were always beautifully made and this example is in gorgeous condition. Straight (spliced) neck and no wear to the frets or the fingerboard. Modern replacement tuning pegs. Ebonised peghead with original ‘R. S. Supreme’ plated oval badge in the middle. Sixteen-fret ebony fingerboard inlaid with multiple mother-of-pearl position dots. Plated metal flange with thirty decorative circular holes. Sixteen top-tension bolts. ‘Ludwig’ style plated scalloped bezel. Original plated tailpiece. Three neat knurled threaded and plated resonator securing bolts. Maple neck and resonator, with attractive wooden inlay pattern on the back of the resonator, ivoroid binding around the bottom edge of the resonator, and an attractive ‘Ludwig’ style patterned inlaid wooden strip all the way around the side. This banjo uke comes complete with a ‘Cartwright’ black hard shaped case with deep red internal padded lining, and an internal pocket with padded lid containing two small purple velvet bags containing two spare ebony-tipped bridges and a top-tension key for adjusting the vellum. £1,450.


SLINGERLAND ‘MAY-BELL’ Banjo Uke (Style 024) (c.1927). Slingerland made a prolific range of banjo ukes aimed at all parts of the market. They were all well-designed and well-made out of excellent materials such as maple,  mahogany and walnut. This is a higher end example of their popular ‘May-Bell’ range. Straight neck, no wear to the frets and almost no wear to the fingerboard. Original Grover tuning pegs in excellent condition. Original ‘Made in U.S.A.’ export stamp at the top of the back of the peghead. Original gold-coloured ‘May-Bell’ name in the middle of the top of the peghead. Original nut. Rosewood (or possibly Pearwood) fifteen-fret fingerboard inlaid with small mother-of-pearl diamond shapes. Original slotted bezel. Sixteen original flatted hooks, nuts and shoes and an original ‘Grover’ patent tailpiece. Flat style resonator gently domed across the middle. Wonderful internal condition with ‘Slingerland’ stamped on the top of the perch pole. Plays well and is really nice sounding. Ideal for someone wanting a nice vintage banjo uke by an acclaimed maker - but not wanting to spend too much money. Comes complete with a vintage black hard shaped case with an internal pocket and lid. £525.


STROMBERG-VOISINET Banjo Uke (c.1930). These banjo ukes were made to an extremely high standard in Chicago U.S.A. and this instrument is similar to the one shown on page 218 of my book (but with no pyralin - or ‘mother of toilet seat’). Apart from the replaced tuning pegs,bridge, and strings (and possibly the vellum) this instrument is in totally original condition inside and out. Mahogany neck, pot and resonator. Attractively spliced neck. Inlaid decorative strip around the pot and attractive decoration on the back of the resonator. Pristine ebonised fingerboard (Pearwood?) with fifteen pristine frets and four mother-of-pearl position dots. Arrow straight neck. The high quality calfskin vellum is old but probably not the original one, nevertheless it is a cracker! Nice wide fingerboard. Attractive cut-outs on top of the engraved metal flange which runs around the top and side of the resonator. Cream ivoroid binding around the bottom edge of the resonator. Sixteen flatted hooks, nuts, shoes and a ‘Nashville’ tailpiece all from the same supplier used by the famous ‘Gibson’ company. This banjo uke is comfy to hold, it plays beautifully and it produces a lovely sound. It comes complete with a period hard shaped case with internal lidded pocket. Tremendous value at £750.


WINDSOR ‘WHIRLE’ No.7 Banjo Uke (1929). Many ‘Windsor’ banjo ukes are very average at best, but their top models (such as this one) are great sounding and very hard to find in lovely original condition - like this one. Straight neck with no wear to the frets and barely any wear to the fingerboard. Original friction tuning pegs. Beautiful shaped and constructed headstock on top of which is the original ‘The Whirle’ metal badge together with eight attractive mother-of-peal decorative inlaid position markers. Original cream nut. Sixteen-fret ebony fingerboard inlaid with multiple mother of pearl dot and clover leaf position markers. Beautiful spliced maple neck with triple banded decoration. Attractive birds-eye maple pot and resonator. Original bezel. Ten original bottom-tension hooks, nuts and shoes. Original armrest. Original and very attractive ‘Windsor’ shaped tailpiece. Original plated metal flange decorated with nine circular holes. Two original threaded resonator mounts. Decorative black binding around the bottom edge of the resonator. All metal parts with their beautiful nickel-plating in truly fantastic condition for its age. Internal tone-ring. Comes complete with its original black hard shaped case with internal pocket and red brushed cotton lining. Absolutely gorgeous inside and out, light to hold and play, and best  of all it produces a fabulous sound. £1,350.


 * Before the ‘Windsor’ company was bombed out of existence in December 1940 during a German air raid they had been the most prolific producers of musical instruments that this country has ever seen. Many of their cheapest models were rather poor in terms of materials, construction, playability, and sound, but their top models were often excellent, and this was certainly true of their banjo ukes - although their system of numbering was completely shambolic! The banjo uke models were numbered 1 to 10. Easy? Not quite! The 1, the 2, and the 2a were variations on the same model, and the 5 and 5a were variations on a different model. The 10 was the cheapest and the next four dearer ones (in order) were the 5, the 5a, the 9, and the 4. The number 3 was made to an old fashioned ‘zither banjo’ design but was quite expensive, and the 9 was a copy of an early ‘Keech’ model ‘A’. The third best banjo uke was the 1, the second best was the 7, and best of all was the 6. What a nightmare!!!


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John Croft, Glan Tanat, Llanyblodwel, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 8NQ, England.

Tel: (+44) 01691 828850

Email: theukuleleman.com@gmail.com

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*** MY NEW 177 PAGE BOOK CALLED 'ALL ABOUT THE BANJO UKE - A  PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPANION' HAS NOW BEEN FINISHED AND I AM HOPING TO HAVE IT PRINTED, BOUND AND PUBLISHED IN THE NEAR FUTURE. FULL DETAILS TO FOLLOW IN DUE COURSE ***