boat paddle ukuleles

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Dallas "B" George Formby banjo ukulele.  These little banjo ukes are underated.  They feature a 7" head, rim mounted flange and wooden resonator.  I first became interested in trying one of these when I heard it on Matthew Richards' excellent video comparison of four different banjo ukuleles.
It's the second uke he reviews and it had a very distinctive brilliant tone that I haven't heard very often on banjo ukes. It's rather bright in the best sense of the word and I was interested in the carrying power of it.  It took a few months to find one and when I did I wasn't disappointed.  Actually I was surprised that not only does it have that sound in the lower position chords, the high positions have excellent sustain and intonation.
If you look at the features of the Dallas B more closely it almost defies the norm in construction.  The flange has no venting and the sound is almost trapped completely within the resonator.  The rim is possibly the thinnest I've ever seen on banjos made later than about 1925 and it has only 8 hooks for a 7" head.

  I'm going to guess that part of the reason these have such a big full sound is that they possess one of those magical sets of dimensions where the acoustical  properties line up and the proportions are exactly what they need to be to produce a great sound.

 I also suspect that the tension ring, which is quite unique on the Dallas Ukes, has a great deal to contribute.  If you were to cut a cross section of it, it would seem like an "L" and the flesh hoop is concealed inside of it, giving it a clean profile.  Also the tension ring is notched to  keep the J hooks spaced evenly around it.  The tension ring is quite heavy and I suspect that it is cast brass.  Banjo makers often cite the tension ring as a critical aspect in the tone they achieve since the vibration of the vellum can either be absorbed or reflected by the density and design of the it.

 I was glad to find a sample with the original vellum and hardware mainly because I wanted to be sure that it would possess the tone I was after.  It's probably a bit thinner vellum than many have but not too thin, and I think these ukes would sound great with anything but a thick vellum unless you were trying to mellow out the tone of this model.  I've never been able to compare but would suspect that the signature is a rubber stamp.

You might have noticed the "ring rash" on the back of the neck and I'm not going to refinish it.  In general I would say that the finish is probably not up to the usual standard on the higher models of the Dallas Ukes, but it has that mahogany color that so much of the furniture influenced by the British Empire had.  It came with Nylgut strings and I will probably leave them installed since they lean towards a strident quality that I wanted this uke to have.

                                                        all photos copywritten by Lucia Loiso

Thursday, February 24, 2011

By request another video of the Avalon Banjo Ukulele.  I was able to get my video camera to work and here is a little "Five Foot Two"  It has a medium/high bridge (for me) and will include a lower "Formby" style bridge and a set of my new formula strings at no extra charge.  Also, as stated in the questions, I will include a nice padded gig bag.  Good luck bidding!!