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#Get expert ukulele advice at the Collector's Uke Yak

Uke Yak Fans,

Chuck "Frets" Fayne has been the resident expert for "Uke Yak" since 1998. Since that time he has answered almost 6,000 questions related to vintage ukuleles. Over many years, Chuck assembled his own world-class collection of vintage Hawaiian and Mainland ukes, including some amazing one-of-a-kind pieces. It was Chuck’s collection that made up the majority of the ukes in my book, "The Ukulele-A Visual History." Although Chuck has retired from the Uke Yak, his extensive knowledge and unique sense of humor live on in this searchable archive. Enjoy! Search the Uke Yak.

Jumpin’ Jim

Chuck Fayne

Flea Market Music Uke Yak (141 of 296)
(Chuck "Frets" Fayne has answered the following 5919 questions.)

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-->Question asked by: Samantha Starr
Subject: PPIE Uke
Question: I am writing to you because my husband and I just watched Jim Beloff's DVD - The Joy of Uke. It was great! My husband, a Ukulele enthusiast, found it very informative. Those guys can really play! At the end of the DVD, where Jim Beloff describes his collection, he goes to some length to describe a Uke from the 1915 PPIE (Pan Pacific International Exposition) and shows it. As it turns out, we’ve got one of these. So, naturally, we’re very excited. A nice little old lady from church knew my husband (the choir director there) liked Ukes and gave it and another unmarked antique Uke to us. Her father is pictured in an antique photograph with one of the Ukes – (the other, unmarked one – it actually has better sound,) and he did indeed buy them both new. The PPIE Uke is in really good shape – and is exactly the same as the one that Mr. Beloff has. Both labels – inside and out - are crystal clear and it is nice and shiny. The back does have a little crack in it – but it doesn’t go all the way through the wood. So, we really would some idea of what value the Uke has – so that we may insure it. We’re not selling it, but it’s been just kicking around our piano without a case or anything. We thought maybe of making a custom shadowbox for it – but also don’t know if that’s a good way to store a piece such as this. I could send a picture of the other antique one - I've never seen one like it, so I have no idea even what it is. Opinions? Thanks!!!

Answer: Its a Kumalae and worth anwhere from 250-350 depending on the model...I'd have to see a pic to tell. Dont' put it in a shadow box. Play it. Same advise I always give when someone wants to display instead of play...I love buying at Church functions, The guy upstairs has no idea about price. It just gets into the right hands. Best of luck...Frets.....
- Sunday, February 20, 2005

-->Question asked by: Mark J. Hulme
Subject: Leonardo Nunes - Birkel
Question: Hi - I inherited a koa uke with the following paper label " "Ukelele O Hawaii made by Leonardo Nunes especially and exclusively for Geo. J. Birkel Co. 446-448 S. Broadway Los Angeles. Cal. Copyright 1917 by L. Nunes". No Headstock decal, flat top & carved back. I have given it a once over with Lemon Oil, but some of the aged schmutz wont come clea. Any idea of value or suggestions for restoration? Thanks.

Photos: Photo 1    

Answer: 350+ and dont do any more. Its only worth that if you leave it original If you try to get the dirt completely off, you might get into the finish...a no no...thanks for writing in...frets
- Sunday, February 20, 2005

-->Question asked by: Gabe
Subject: Martin Uke
Question: Chuck I wasn't sure if you received this or not. Still trying to figure out this computer thing. I was wondering if you had any info on this uke I received from my grandfather. I know it is any early Martin, but that is about it. I would like to have some work done on it, but not ruin the originality of it. Let me know your thoughts on it. Thanks.

Photos: Photo 1    

Answer: It is a style O martin uke. What kind of work and for what reason????....If it doesn't need anything don't do it. frets
- Sunday, February 20, 2005

-->Question asked by: sean
Subject: uke id help
Question: hi chuck, can you help me id this uke? i bought it from a man who said he bought it in 1954 and it was already old then. it has no label, appears to be koa wood, arched back soprano, 17 frets (12 to body)rope binding with black thin purfling inside it on the soundboard, rope rosette with black on either side and light wood or gold inner and outer ring 1/8th inch separate from rope rosette inside and one outside. the rope binding looks like ebony and lighter wood and there is a butt joint piece or either rosewood or ebony 1/4" at top and 1/8" at back. i was told that it was a hawaiian made instrument. if you have any clue, i would appreciate your thoughts. also, i can take more pictures if that would be helpful. mahalo & aloha sean

Photos: Photo 1    

Answer: Sean...Mainland made probably Regal..Made to look hawaiian but it is not. NIce uke...The headstock is typical Regal and Not Island. Best...frets
- Sunday, February 20, 2005

-->Question asked by: soybean
Subject: Tahitian
Question: Chuck, as you say, the Tahitian/ Maori "ukes" are really more of a percussion instrument. Is it possible they are not ukes at all but simply called ukes by the Tahitian tourist industry to dupe the uneducated traveller? Let's get a petition signed and start legal proceedings against these imposters! Something must be done! (tongue firmly planted in cheek.)

Answer: Great Idea...everyone needs a cause...Nice to hear from you Dan...keep them comin" frets
- Sunday, February 20, 2005

-->Question asked by: Stan
Subject: Antique Uke
Question: Hi Chuck, I bought this on ebay (buy it now $49.95 I think I had a great buy).there is no label but it is beautifully made and sounds incredible. it measures 20 1/2 inches and has a centre rope binding down the middle of the back which is rounded. I believe it is very early 20th century. Have you any idea of the maker and the value

Photos: Photo 1    

Answer: Great buy...No idea who made it...Looks like regal again. Hard to tell, many were made that look just like that. Sort of a Martin copy. Great score...start playing...frets.....
- Sunday, February 20, 2005

-->Question asked by: Andy
Subject: roy smeck concert uke
Question: Hi Chuck, Just wanted to know if $300 is a bit much to ask for a Roy Smeck concert uke. The uke in question looks exactly like the one pictured under the logo on the FleaMarket Music website (minus the extreme scratches). The local shop that is selling it typically prices it's stuff kind of high. Thanks

Answer: Its an ok price, not great. Good instrument and good player...best and thanks for writing in...frets
- Sunday, February 20, 2005

-->Question asked by: adam bastien
Subject: i just got my uke...
Question: I just got my own uke to play and i bought it for 30$ original price 60$... the first day i got it i tryed tightening the top string and it broke... i put a small guitar string on it and i was wondering if that were ok? i also wanted to know if i should slowly let the string stretch or just look for a better string?

Answer: Get a set of really good strings. It will make a great difference. bests to ya...frets
- Sunday, February 20, 2005

-->Question asked by: Jennifer Grimes
Subject: Gibson Uke 1?
Question: I was wondering if I might bother to ask you if you are familiar with something called a Gibson UKE 1? My grandmother gave me this ukelele in the original case (albeit it needs a little loving care down on the place where the strings hook in) and I'm just wondering what the story is? I wanted to put it in a shadow box (it was my great-grandmother's) and I'd like to have a notecard with some "story" to put in there. Thanks if you can help me!

Photos: Photo 1    

Answer: made in the l950's-60's late model Gibson style 1 uke...Pur a pic of your Grandmother in a Shadow Box and Hang the uke on the wall next to it. Play the uke...Don't put it in a box. It was meant to be played, its not a picture. Enjoy...frts
- Sunday, February 20, 2005

-->Question asked by: Tim
Subject: Biltmore Concert
Question: Aloha, I picked up this sweet concert Biltmore with a crazy pink nut and bridge insert. Its in perfect shape,sounds and plays beautifully. Can you help me out with some history. I can't find a thing. Thanks in advance,

Photos: Photo 1    

Answer: I think it might be wabash. I'm not sure, I am not sure that is the name of the company that made ukes with that bright saddle and nut. I know someone out there will refresh ....I just thought of it...It is made by the Williams company of Los Angeles in the l950's. That is most likely what you have...Its not a Wabash, they made the ukes that look like art deco cigar boxes. Hope this has helped. I had a couple of williams and they were not bad player,.....best and nice to hear from you....frets
- Tuesday, February 8, 2005

-->Question asked by: Milan
Subject: Martin Style
Question: Chuck, I recently got this uke and was wondering how old it is. The dilema I have in dating it is that it has a lot of features of a Martin made in the early 1930's, but it has the pre 1927 wooden tuning pegs. A decal on the front, no stamp on the back, ebony nut and saddle, four dots on the fretboard, very nice binding on the top and back and bar frets. I'm into it for $310 and it plays and sounds beautifully. Could you help me in dating it and could you also shed some light on why it would have the wooden pegs. Thanks again.

Photos: Photo 1    

Answer: Your into it for the right price....Its a l940-50's style one. The dots are too big to be an older uke. This combined with the decal on the front confirms all of this. Somebody has removed the original tuners and put pegs in place. A good move as far as I am concerned. I like pegs. Now, tune it up and play it. frets
- Wednesday, February 2, 2005

-->Question asked by: David Arnay
Subject: Nunes
Question: I was given a beautiful koa-wood uke in good condition as a gift. It has the M. Nunes 1879 decal on the headstock, and the label inside says "made for Southern California Music Co." Any thoughts as to its age and/or a ballpark value? Thank you! DA

Answer: As usual, I need a pic to tell you anything. I have seen a couple dozen variations of M Nunes ukes and need to see it. I can tell you exactly what you have and its value. Nice gift. Give the giver my emil and home address.....Please send pic....frets
- Wednesday, February 2, 2005

-->Question asked by: Tom B.
Subject: Unidentified Koa Uke
Question: Dear Frets: I purchased this uke from an antique dealer who was selling it as a wall- hanger. After replacing one missing tuner and stringing it up, I was delighted to hear one of the loudest soprano ukes I've ever played. Can you shed any light on who made it and/or whether it's a real Hawaiian instrument? There's no marking other than the Aloha shield at the top. Thanks!

Photos: Photo 1    

Answer: It is definitly a hawaiian uke and a nice one at that. It could be anybody. It is a fairly common uke. But a very nice one. nice score....frets
- Wednesday, February 2, 2005

-->Question asked by: Tom B.
Subject: Those Wacky Wimbrolas
Question: Dear Chuck: I am contemplating the restoration of a Wimbrola, but I am thoroughly confused by the string configuration. I checked all the photos of Wimbrolas that I could find (Uke Diner, Catfish's site, "The Ukulele, A Visual History") and they all seem to show a six-string instrument, like a little guitar. I contacted Tom Favilla, and he said the six-string configuration was an experimental thing, and that the Wimbrola is supposed to be strung with two double courses. So then I went back to the photos in Jim Beloff's book (first edition, page 103), and here's where it gets really confusing. There is a close-up photo at the top of the page, and it clearly shows that two of the string courses are doubled (G-CC-E-AA). But there is also a photo of the same instrument at the bottom of the page, and it appears to show six strings evenly spaced at the saddle. That seems not only wrong, but unplayable. Can you shed some light on this, o wise one?

Answer: I can because it was my instrument. Look at the nut on the bottom pic pg 103 and you will see that the strings are really 2sets of l and 2sets of 2. I know because that was my wimbrola. I owned about 7 of them in my life and they were all strung with four courses of strings..two doubles and 2 singles. I have never seen a wimbrola that was strung as a six string instument., It is too small and would be impossible.,...take a magnifying glass to the bottom picture and look at the nut. from another nut...fretnut
- Tuesday, February 1, 2005

-->Question asked by: Frank
Subject: Style 0, Mahogany & Koa?
Question: Hi. I have two Martin "0" ukes, both from the 1927-33 period with no binding, to wit, both have no labels, but "Martin" is stamped on the back of the headstock. And they have regular tuners, not the early friction peg type. My question has to do with the type of wood. One uke has long stringy wood, like mahogany, the other, short lines, almost like koa. Did Martin make style "0" in Koa? Thanks.

Answer: Only one and it was an employee model...Never for sale , as far as I know. Any chance to see a pic of yours standing side by side. Just the body close-up would do. Koa is unmistakable. It is honey colored whereas mahogany is reddish brown. Big difference, having more to do with the color than the lenght of the grain.....Send PIcs.....best....frets
- Sunday, January 30, 2005

-->Question asked by: Larry Miller
Subject: Globe baritone?
Question: I just bought a baritone uke on eBay, and am wondering if anyone can tell me about it. It is solid mahogony, with a rosewood fingerboard. Medium quality workmanship- I'd guess 20 to 40 years old; simple straight-through tuners. There are no maker's marks of any kind inside or elsewhere, but there is a round "sticker" on the head, with the words "The Globe" and "registered", and a picture of the world- red lettering on a gold background. Thanks! Larry Miller

Photos: Photo 1    

Answer: haven't got a clue. but it would help if you took a couple of closeups and sent them to me. the body and the headstock..I would lke to see the decal, perhaps I can tell from that. There were so many companies making baritones, its always hard to tell which one it is. However, the next best thing to holding it, is seeing better pics...do what you can...frets
- Sunday, January 30, 2005

-->Question asked by: joey
Subject: ukulele banjo's
Question: I purchased a old ukulele banjo, I would like to find out information on type of strings, and can the strings be steel or not. Also maybe see pictures to compare mine with.

Answer: Joey..I personally prefer gut strings, however you can use steel if you want to anger the neighbors or kill your fingers. As far as pictures that can be compared to yours, I would have a better chance of doing that if I had a pic or a great description of yours. Does it have a name? They made approximately 145,716 different types of banjo ukes.....I don't have access to them all..There a banjo uke collectors, hopefully on will write in. In the meantime, ask to see banjo uke pics on our bulletin board. Those people have everything and are eager to share. Thanks...send a picture...chuck
- Sunday, January 30, 2005

-->Question asked by: walter
Subject: Over the rainbow
Question: Frets: Long time no see. I recently saw the Adam Sandler movie "50 First Dates". As the ending credits roll, there is a reggea version of "Over the Rainbow", played as chords on a uke. Do you know who did this, and where I would be able to find the chords? Thanks, Walter

Answer: The Title of the album you want is "IZ" Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.....Great album...go get it. By the way, he is Hawaiian but I understand your Raggea interpretation. Best ...frets
- Sunday, January 30, 2005

-->Question asked by: John
Subject: Baritone uke
Question: Hi Chuck, Do you have a sense of when baritone ukes were first made? (By whom would be interesting, too, but doesn't matter for my purposes now). Dan Sawyer's FAQ (in the famous black sidebar at the left of the screen) says that they were 'introduced' in the 1940s. Mike Longworth's book says Martin first 'priced and cataloged" theirs in 1960. That seems kinda behind the curve. I recently read a description of a Weymann baritone purported to have been made for them by Martin... in 1928. Longworth says that Martin did make ukes for Weymann, but it seems weird that they would make baris for someone else, but not make any of their own for another 30+ years... doesn't it? Cheers 'n' later...

Answer: John....I think to make it more confusing, Favilla made the first baritone as we know it today. Tom will read this and write in and confirm this if it is true. Martin made the first bari's in l959 and they went on the market in l960. I think there have always been large 4 string beasts around , maybe they just didn't get called baritones. I am more interested how I can remember what I paid for a martin ukulele in l961 but I have no idea where my car keys are right now. Now theres a question. Best to ya and thanks for writing. frets....I also noticed that I don't have to pee till I put the key in the front door lock. Does it see????? Perhaps I should ask it where my car keys are.....frets
- Saturday, January 29, 2005

-->Question asked by: David Poissant
Subject: question
Question: Hi, I have a uke skylark brand my107 made in Peoples Republic of China. I am really new to the uke world and just checking to see what something like this would be worth if anything. it is in good condition, no cracks or seperations some wear around edges.

Answer: Unfortunatly, it has little value if any. Sorry....frets
- Saturday, January 29, 2005

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Flea Market Music offers an on-line community for ukulele players, informative books on the ukulele, ukulele CDs,songbooks, videos and information on our instrument manufacturing of the FLUKE ukulele. Brought to you by "Jumpin" Jim Beloff. -