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I bought a sad ukulele


I bought this at the country fair. It is a sad, sad ukulele. The brand and model is a Jetel 5 and it has 1937 written inside in pencil (also Dalington, Sussex and a name I can’t quite make out).

I managed to get it completely apart without breaking any of the metal bits (metal fatigue is a serious problem in these old things) so I stand a chance of getting it all put back together again.

Don’t ask me why. My shriveled stump of a maternal instinct is triggered by grubby stray animals and really messed up gear (the guys at my shooting range offered to help me buy smarter after I came in with a succession of crappy handguns. Crappy handguns that I loved, thank you anyway fellas).

I already have an excellent uke. I’m thinking of making this one into a piccolo banjo, if I can figure out a clever way to hang a fifth string off’n the fifth fret.


Comment from mojo
Time: August 12, 2015, 12:20 am

You’d have to add fingerboard, wouldn’t you?

I’d think so, anyway.

Comment from Some Tuber
Time: August 12, 2015, 2:37 am

Uhmmmm…. Certainly I am not in a strong position to question you, barely knowing a trombone from a tuba, but are you sure you weren’t taken in by an evil Gypsy salesman who put you under a spell?

You are calling that thing a ukulele, but every picture of a ‘UKULELE‘ I can find with a google (et al) search shows something that looks like a miniature guitar, where as the picture you show above sure looks like a BANJO to me. I recognize that Britian and America are ‘two countries divided by a common language’ but if you are insisting that there thing is a UKULELE, Lucy, you got some ‘splaining’ to do….

Comment from Nina
Time: August 12, 2015, 3:53 am

It needs work.

Oh, that’s the point!

I get it now.

(Please do keep us apprised of its progress, between cat and chook posts!)

Comment from Glenster
Time: August 12, 2015, 4:42 am

Well, it’s a banjo-ukulele, an actual thing. Strung and tuned like a uke but with a fiber head like a banjo. Most had an open back, some were closed like this one and some had a resonator, just like a banjo. They could be quite loud, which was important when playing one in an ensemble. There were also mando-ukes, shaped like a uke but strung (with eight strings) and tuned like a mandolin. Just to confuse everyone even more, I have a uke shaped like an F-style mandolin, tuned and strung as a tenor uke.

Zzzzzzzz Zzzzzzzzzz Sorry, I tend to prattle! 🙂

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: August 12, 2015, 6:05 am

Gee, I think of you as a Heckler & Koch sort of shooter. In one of the Jeeves books, Jeeves was annoyed that Bertie took up the banjolele, is that what this tthing is?

Comment from Harry
Time: August 12, 2015, 2:09 pm

Speaking of chook posts, it seems to have been a while. How is the little flock faring these days?

Comment from MikeW
Time: August 12, 2015, 3:04 pm

Hmm, I jumped in to make the point which was much better stated above by Some Tuber than I would have.

I guess when you stray away from ‘classical’ instruments, pretty much anything goes. Somebody makes a new, or hybrid, type of instrument and then all they have to do is convince enough people that it sounds really good. Still can’t figure out how the accordion and bagpipe folks got away with that last part. 🙂

Here something cute-elele from Wiki-land:

Comment from mojo
Time: August 12, 2015, 4:07 pm

StB: Annoyed? The poor man was driven to abandon his clueless employer to the tender mercies of the Cornwall coast, not to mention less-than-gentlemanly Gentleman’s Gentlemen and yet another amorous entrapment.

Annoyed, he says.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 12, 2015, 7:44 pm

Yup, it’s a banjo uke, or banjolele.

I posted this ages ago, but I love it so I’m posting it again. It is “In Da Club” by Fifty Cents, played on a banjo uke in the style of British WWI-era comic (an famous banjolele player) George Formby:

It is beyond awesome.

Comment from drew458
Time: August 13, 2015, 4:25 am

George Formby! My man. Back when I worked a squeegee for a living, I kept myself chugging along for hours singing his classic tune When I cleaning windows. I had to do the banjolele riffs in my head though, as the instrument doesn’t hold up well in a bucket of soapy water.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: August 13, 2015, 3:16 pm

Mojo, isn’t that the book where we find out that Jeeve’s first name is Reggie, wen Bertie, his insane alet, and Jeeves meet on the street, and insane valet says, “Hello, Reggie ” to Jeeves? Bertie was appalled, thinking of how akward ot would have been had Jeeve’s first name had been Bertie.

With metal fatigue being an issue, do you replace the metal parts when restoring one?

Comment from P2
Time: August 13, 2015, 6:57 pm

Where ever did you find a handgun range in merry ol’ Blighty? I can remember having to jump thru several hoops, some flaming, some just merely smoking, to shoot at the skeet range on the base I was stationed on while there in the 80’s….. I thought the Blokelahomans were allergic to handguns…..

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 13, 2015, 7:40 pm

Oh, nonono. That was when I lived in Rhode Island and was a member of the Providence Revolver Club. I know someone who belongs to a pistol range here, and I’ve been meaning to ask him how. I suspect it’s muzzle-loaders only, or something like that.

Scott, you replace what you can replace, if it needs it. But this is why zither banjos never go for much unless they’re in pristine condition: too many fiddly metal bits that can’t be replaced.

Comment from JF
Time: August 14, 2015, 1:48 am

No need to hang a fifth string, tune it like a tenor banjo or mandolin, G-D-A-E if I’m not mistaken.

Comment from Fender
Time: August 23, 2015, 3:13 pm

I really like vintage ukulele. Why? Because it’s not work anymore 🙂
(yes, my friend are terrible musician and I prefer to preserve my ears…)

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