Notes on playing the banjo uke (and the regular ukulele), as well as some of my favorite songs and videos, but mostly, you'll find information here on my particular obsession - the many models of banjo ukulele offered by Stromberg-Voisinet in the 1920's to 1931.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More Slingerland Banjo Ukes

After about a week in Los Angeles, where I got to meet one of my idols, the incredibly talented and equally generous Tony Trischka, I've decided I may have to attempt the five string and take a rest from my four-stringiness. Hey, Tony said, "You can do it - it's easy to learn." He's the kind of guy that you completely believe, so now you know who to blame when I start posting links to me flailing while frailing and blathering on about the unmatched sonic beauty of pre-war Gibson Flathead Mastertones.

Here is Tony playing a piece I enjoyed singing along with this weekend, his "Shameless Pandering Medley"

OK, so let's talk ukes, pronounced by me as "yuke," by the way, not "ooke"; my orientation is more vaudeville than the islands.

We were looking at Slingerland Maybells, and I have a few more to show you.

Here's the Outfit #30.

You'll notice that, despite the fancy mop inlay, it has a kind of standard Slingerland headstock that matches the ones seen on all models 024, 025, O28 and the resonator-backed 023. This isn't always true with the Outfit #30, which - as you can see in the catalog in my last post, has a very banjo-like headstock shape. The reason, I believe, is that some of these Outfit #30s were actually built for Slingerland by Liberty once Slingerland acquired the company. Here's a look at a Maybell built by Liberty: this page is from Dave Schenkman's incredibly helpful and definitive site, which you should check out if you haven't already. Also, please note the decal on the back of the resonator, which has been present on all the Outfit #30's I've seen, in addition to all the Maybell 023s I've seen.

Here's a Maybell model 20 from the early 30s identifiable by the script decal and metal dowel hardware, instead of the usual embossed or branded logo and biscuit shim on the dowel, which you see in models built in the 20s. This one, which I refurbished more than a year ago, is now in the hands of Dave, the Cloverdale Kid, Laurice. Hello, Dave. :)

Next time, I'll have something on the Stromberg Voisinet "Rose" model, one of which just moved on eBay in the UK. Until then, consider five strings...


  1. Haha- there's my little Maybell! She is a little gem, though once my wife saw a little on with a real skin head I think she claimed it has her own. Now to find an "Outfit 30" to hang along side her sisters.
    5 strings huh? 5 metal strings? I am tossing around the idea of a tenor, but five strings scares me a bit.

  2. Not as much as it scares my wife. She's forbidden the action, and I must say, she is smart.

    Maybe someday...

  3. Greetings from Lexington, Ky. I'm guessing Debra Kerr in "Black Narcissus". I also have a May Bell banjo uke with resonator similar to your no. 30. It is complete but without strings and un-restored. I'm strictly a clawhammer player but with renewed interest in ukeleles, I may have to string it up. Thanks