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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Deluxe is always better than regular...

When you go into a diner in NYC, you have a choice on the burger. You can get it plain, or deluxe, which means it comes with fries, a tiny eye-cup-full of coleslaw, a pickle, and lettuce, tomato and onion. Despite there not being enough coleslaw, ALWAYS get the deluxe.

In the case of Stromberg Voisinets, the same may be true. If you have a chance at picking up a regular Style One "Black Beauty" or one of these Style One "Deluxe" models, you may want to get the Deluxe. They go for upwards of a $100 more than a regular Style One these days, but you get a lot for that.

Features are fairly consistent on Style One Deluxe models. Instead of just stained maple, they appear to be made of maple, mahogany and walnut in various combinations, with each instrument slightly different. When they were made 1920-1930 or so, it's not clear if the choice of wood was the craftsman's or the buyer's.

The fretboard has ivroid binding, the headstock has a slightly more elaborate MOP inlay instead of the S-V diamond logo, and the wood is not stained, but rather clear lacquered so the natural grain and color comes through.

The pot and resonator are purfled as on the regular Style One, but the center of the resonator is always inlaid with a contrasting wood, usually birds-eye maple. On this particular example, you see a mahogany neck and pot, walnut resonator, and maple inlay. It's a great-looking variant of the usual "Black Beauty".

Here's a great example of a Style One Deluxe, which sold on eBay in January 2011 for an amazing $514.00. You can see the five-piece laminated neck that's also common to all in this model line.

This uke, posted by Rhinooooo – one of this blog’s readers, really caught my attention. It’s basically a Fancy Style 1 like above, but there are interesting variations. It's all walnut, and which also has a completely atypical purfling design on the pot and resonator back.

Also note that instead of the usual S-V diamond inlay logo, or even the deluxe version, this uke has an MOP star inlaid, and only has three MOP fretboard markers. So far, it's one-of-a-kind.

Here's another, darker variation, which appears to be mahogany, with a mahogany-stained maple resonator. This particular example went for $100 on Ukulele Underground in April of 2011.

Finally, here's a light maple Style One Deluxe, with a dark-stained resonator. This shows the fretboard binding and MOP markers as they appear typically. You'll notice that the fretboard in the top photo of this blog appears to show elaborate MOP markers - nope, it's those pernicious stickers again. Those should be outlawed. Play with your eyes shut if you really want to learn the neck. :)

That's all for now - I've got dozens of photos of these Deluxe Style Ones, but you get the idea. Nicer, better decorated, mostly well-taken care of by their original owners, they represent an upgraded version of the basic Style One.

Next time, I'll show you the Style Two, which is fairly different from what you've seen so far. In some ways, it may be the budget model S-V, but then, who can say? If you've seen anything on my little OCD blog, its that nothing's definite. :) Until then, if you get the burger deluxe, ask for extra coleslaw. And Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. Another great read John- these deluxe style ones are enough to keep a fellow up late at night. Great article.

  2. Thanks, Dave. I think they may be my favorite among the styles we've seen so far.

  3. I'm a SV owner as of this weekend. I'm thoroughly enjoying your articles. I have what you've referred to as the 'Rose' variety. it has the pearly headstock overlay and fretboard and the 5 piece neck. It even came with what I think is the original case. It's a canvas covered end opening hard case with a leather strap and hinges. If you would pictures for you archives let me know. Thanks. Dean.

  4. Dean -

    welcome and thank you; I'd love to see some pictures. The case you're describing was a commonly sold in music stores and they were made for all sizes of uke. They don't offer much in the way of protection, but they are still better than the corduroy gig bags that were common in the 20s and 30s! The Rose is a beautiful model, especially with pearloid fretboard and headstock as you have. Again, welcome!

  5. Pictures are here:

    Thanks Again, Dean.

  6. Dean -

    This may well be the best looking Rose I've ever seen. Great find. Enjoy your uke!