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.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Stromberg-Voisinet Aero Uke and Rose Banjo Uke, and Harmony Roy Smeck Vita-Uke


It's my birthday Monday. 50; one of the big birthdays, the kind you get a good present for instead of socks and a book. My family gave me a 1924 Gibson L-Junior guitar. A great gift, but to make room for it, I'm going to have to sell a couple of ukuleles. I just sold this extraordinarily nice Harmony Roy Smeck "Vita-Uke".


The uke had one minor problem - a dent in the back - plus a replacement bridge, but the tone was excellent and it reminded me of a Martin uke.






From the triple black, white and tortoiseshell top binding to the trained-sealion soundholes, Harmony really did a wonderful job back in the 20s and 30s.


The other uke I'm selling to make room for the guitar is a Stromberg-Voisinet Rose. I've never posted pictures of it here, but I've taken a few so that you can see the top of the line S-V ukulele before it sells on eBay.


Note the pearloid (or mother-of-toilet-seat) facing on the headstock and fretboard, which contrasts interestingly with the mother-of-pearl position markers, making them look silver in comparison to the milky color of the fretboard.

Also note the rose decal and other typical Stromberg-Voisinet design features, including the purfling on the pot and the five-piece neck and the three-pointed, scrolled headstock always found on S-V ukuleles.

That headstock comes into play in identifying the next uke...

Finally, here is one I never owned, but it bears mentioning that it is an AMAZING design and this is in fact a Stromberg-Voisinet ukulele.


The "Aero-uke" as its known is constantly mis-identified as a Harmony product.







If you follow this blog at all and have seen the dozens of examples of S-V ukes with this exact headstock and neck, then you recognize the instrument's origins and know that this is a Stromberg-Voisinet product.


Of course, that said, you've never seen any other ukulele like this one, and those "jet-engine" soundholes sure are unique.


Of course, this is the only S-V instrument I can think of that actually has a rudder attached to the headstock!


Several of you have pointed the "family resemblance" of the Aero-uke to me over the last few months, and I'm glad to be able to put this one in the right family.
Here's a shot from of the carved tailpiece and, well, propeller, I guess!



And - after I wrote this draft, look what I found online. Proof positive that this is a Stromberg Voisinet. Thanks to folks who saved these old ads!




Anyway, that's all for now. Happy Halloween!

3 comments:

  1. Great article! Loving the Aero Uke.

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    1. Thanks. Yes, that Aero Uke is the most whimsical and yet functional ukulele design I've ever seen. Love to get my hands on one some day!

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  2. I have one it's in an original Harmony case it was patented by a man not a company dec 31 1929 mine has an original patent sticker still on it the Uke itself is in excellent shape the case a little rough.May be convinced into selling it someday. for the right price!

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