Workpage  11-2016

Customized for Josh and Whitney Cox

1920's Wm.Lange Banjo Uke

7"  archtop
Mahogany Neck
Maple Rim
Champion Tuners
New premium Calf Skin head
Hardware polished
Hooks replaced
New inlay in fingerboard
Side marker dots
Custom "MAC" inlay on Peghead
Woodwork refinished
Soprano scale - AECG tuning
Nylon strings


Uke is in VG condition for its age
Several older repairs over the last 80 + yrs, all stable
Frets are already replaced and VG

Pulling all of the brass "Heart" inlays
I will go with a standard look for Lange Paramount banjos, which on the "A" model, is slanted diamonds.
Hearts just are not cool to be for a boy's instrument

I am setting them to as close to lerfect depth as possible, so I have little to do after glue in.
With frets in place, you cannot level them all at once

All in and sealed, a coat of dye , 10 min dry

Cleaning the top of the binding to see the white again

Now to fill these holes and "Banner Blue" will go to "No Banner Black"

Time for side markers

Now to strip old finish and go forth

Decided red was not going to work on the mahogany, so will go with a Gibson style Sunburst.
Since it has blue binding and center laminate this is more appropriate

Stamping in his I.D., my init's and the year

Tint coats shot, getting ready for clear

A little color on the dowel

After buffing and before cleaning
Showing the brass hearts are the same as the skirt cut outs, probably all stamped at once with the same die.

After rim work, polished/waxed, ready for head.
Copper ring is "self centering" but you have to watch it as you tighten because it is also "Self un-centering" and you can keep it in line with your fingers.

These heads are from the U.K., and the top of the line calfskin, I only use them on important things.
Nice and thin, pressed and polished, the U.K. has been hit hard by "Mad cow", they were our #1 source .
I have a few pigeon-holed for special projects.
Heads like this can last 100s of years if treated properly.

I used all new hooks since the old ones are ugly.
This makes for a much better look with old plating that otherwise is still nice.

Now to get the inlay cut for the peghead, some more clear coats on the wood, and it will be ready to assemble.
I'm hoping for a Christmas time frame.

Headstock inlay
I had some "Vega" inlays from the 1950's i my stock and I will use a few of them creatively, to get what I want.

A little trimming on the 2 V's, and the G, and I'll have it.

Now for some borders

Nothing too fancy, dots and flourishes,  now to get them set.

Dentist burrs for the outline and downcut burr for the bulk removal

I changed my inlay pattern (what's new) and now that I have removed them after scribing, I will cut the cavities.

Setting the pearl

Scuffed off, that's the general look now.

After tint, a little amber to yellow up the pearl makes the finish appear older.
next, just clear coats for  a couple days
As with all vintage production banjos, no effort was made to make all inlay perfectly in line and I follow that tradition when I work on stuff like this from the past.
They were always pushed and little differences were of no matter.
So I gofst and without a lot of marking out placements and to me, it always looks more like it was done then.
Pearl is hard to photo and it always looks better in person.


All back together, ready to string up

Resonator hardware I formed works good enough and the back will be secure.
It does not have to come off for head adjustment


Set up Soprano Uke
This means the bottom string (closest in the pic) is a higher tone.
They call it the "My Dog has Fleas" tuning
If there was a Low G there, it would have a bassier sound.
Either will work for GCEA tuning.
Plenty on the web as far as hearing the sound and tuning with digital tuner, is easy once you get used to it.


Ok , it is all tuned up and ready to head over to Josh and Whitney so that Mac can have it for Christmas.
Play's nicely, neat little tone for sure, nice and clean but not too brassy

If he is half as good of a kid as his mama, he is worth the effort!
I hope he gets some fun out of it and helps me to keep banjo's (and Banjo Uke's) alive.!
Thanks for watching