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!


  1. Great article! Loving the Aero Uke.

    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!

  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!

  3. I hadn't seen one of these before, until I saw this one on Wikipedia: This Stromberg-Voisinet Areo-Uke is in the National Music Museum's collection.,_National_Music_Museum,_Vermillion.jpg