My Little Banjo Uke


April 19, 2011 by Tim

Just wanted to make sure that this did not get left out of banjo uke week.

I purchased a little ragged 1920’s inline banjo uke last summer and figured I would give it a go to fix it. When I got it had a torn head, no bridge, no tail-piece, and a loose neck. I figured for $25 I would give it a try.

Here is the article that I wrote about putting a new head on it

And I also wrote another about how I made it playable

I figure she deserves some recognition since she is my first.


4 thoughts on “My Little Banjo Uke

  1. P.J. says:

    Great Job! Hope you have loads of fun playing it. Been thinking of it myself, maybe I will just have to try it like you did. thanks.

  2. Janet says:

    Hello: Enjoyed this post!

    Over the winter I bought myself a sweet little vintage Rolando (1916-1920?) that is similar to yours–I believe mine is made of redwood, according to my research–here is the listing and text from Ukulele Hall of Fame archive 2009:

    “…a very early banjo ukulele. Rolando was a brand name used by the Southern California Music Company on banjo ukuleles and guitars (and possibly other instruments). Southern Cal even sold some Martin guitars with Rolando labels inside. …was probably made between 1916 and 1920. It was almost certainly made in California – nearly all the very early banjo ukuleles were. It was quite possibly made in the factory in the Los Angeles area that was the largest banjo ukulele manufacturer at the time. …made from burled redwood, other (more common) styles of Rolando banjo ukuleles were made from alternating light and dark wood pieces. The hole in the headstock is original – every one of these I have seen has the same hole there.”

    The “light and dark wood” comment made me wonder if yours is a Rolando? Does yours also have a hole at the top of the headstock?

    Mine had a replaced head already, and was playable. But, I wasn’t happy with it. I sent for a new bridge and that helped a lot. I also put glass beads between the string knot and the hole the strings go through…there’s no tailpiece and I don’t know if it ever had one. The beads help prevent the knots from slipping into the holes!

    I had the GOOD LUCK of connecting with Aaron Keim at the Gorge Uke Camp in March and he took a quick look at it and told me to sand down the bridge and deepen the slots on the bridge (my Aquilas keep popping off); also deepen the slots of the C and E strings at the nut.

    I’m thinking, too, of changing out the tuners–what tuners did you use???

    Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed your reviews of all the banjo ukes…I like the sound of the Goldtone…and, hey, I think there’s more than Five Foot Two that sounds good on these special ukes! 😉

  3. Francis Welch says:

    In November I bought a banjo ukulele in almost the exact condition as the one you bought. There was no tailpiece, no bridge, one tuner was messed up, there were no strings and there was a tear in the skin. It, too, was about a 1920 vintage. I took it to a luthier and $108 later I was a happy man. I love my ukes, but the sound of the banjo ukulele is something special.

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