boat paddle ukuleles

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The tiny but excellent "Bell Brand" tailpiece. These  tailpieces were standard issue on several banjo ukes including:  Avalons, Gretsch, and others.  Grooved for 5 strings, but no worry, just use the outer four and you are in business.  Very easy to string because a single knot slips inside the grooved area and leaves them tidy and without any string ends to scratch your arms and snag your tuxedo.  These were 1 1/16" wide and sat on the  tension ring for a nice pressure angle downward from the bridge.  This gives good contact for the bridge to the skin and provides resonance.
Several readers requested pictures of these tailpieces.  I see them from time to time on ebay and have bought a few for restoration jobs.  Another extinct hardware design from the past.  I know nothing of the Bell company and assume it was not connected to the phone service.  Maybe it's another Edison invention!!  
Great News about the Grover People!!
They asked me to send a sample tuner of the wonderful spring loaded style tuning peg common to so many vintage Gibsons, Martins and other high end and mid range ukuleles and banjo ukuleles.  I'm hoping they reissue them and if so, to the exact specifications, colors and quality they had back in the day.  I am going to  furnish them with as much imagery, and actual tuners that I can spare to help them build a reissue.   Another Grover model, that was included on the Ludwig Wendell Halls, and some of the Stromberg Voisenet banjo ukes should also prove to be a viable reissue. (See below), larger style Grover for thicker pegheads.  These required larger holes and the barrel section had no spring.  There was a knurled "teeth" for the connection to the button that rotates the whole mechanism for tuning.  Another lovely Grover product!

  My agenda on this is not self serving, I'm hoping to help  all of the ukulele companies, custom makers, restorers and owners of these great instruments have access to the fine quality products Grover made in the 20s and 30s.  Keep your fingers crossed!!
  I want to ask those of you that have planet style tuners on your Ludwig models, can you send a picture of
a tuner?  I have had several readers inquire about these and I have no examples for discussion  in a blog post.  I'm wondering, are they smaller than a tenor banjo planet tuner?  Any information will be shared with the readers.  Thanks!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

By request the Grover "Ivoroid button":

A close up of the Ivoroid tuners used on the Gibson UB-4/5 models.  I've never seen these buttons that Grover supplied to Gibson on any other banjo ukulele.  They were  nitrocellulose "ivoroid" which was the synthetic ivory invented in the 20s to replace real ivory.  It is great looking material and I've seen it on many
guitars as binding and even on bassoons as the bell ring.

Please write me if you have seen these on any other models of ukulele or banjo ukulele.
A plea to Grover!!!
Letter # 2 to the folks at Grover. (feel free to write Grover if you want to support this plea)

Hi, This is my second letter to you about this topic.   I am the writer of the blog: The Banjo Ukulele Forum and I have about 14,000 readers worldwide at the moment.  

I am writing to urge you to reissue the best tuning peg ever produced for the Ukulele and Banjo Ukulele, the Grover Spring Loaded tuning pegs.  (please see attached photos on various Gibson model banjo ukuleles)

I'm not sure you are aware of the fact that the hottest selling instrument in the world right now is none other than the Ukulele.  The need for an excellent serious tuning peg is higher now than ever on this planet.  Your tuner was famous in it's day and I have paid over $100 for a set of them several times to replace lesser quality tuning pegs on my restoration jobs.

It would seem silly to me, and my readers that you might feel there is "too" small of market for these wonderful tuners as indicated by your last response to me.  The custom ukulele market, corporate ukulele market and vintage market (ie resales) and restoration market would insure you a windfall of sales of these classic tuners.

I would urge you again to think about this and if had the capital to invest for you I would do it myself.   I would hope that you could put them out with the exact dimensions and nitrocellulose buttons in the three colors you originally offered them.  (ivory white, black and ivoroid (for the high end Gibson UB-4/5 banjo ukulele).

Martin, Gibson, Gretsch are just of few of the high profile companies that supplied their instruments with your tuning pegs and there is nothing anywhere in the world currently made that can come close to the elegance and efficiency that your spring loaded tuners had.

I hope you take this letter seriously, not only for us, the players and you the producers because we will both profit from this reissue.

very sincerely,

Steve Roberts