Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Weissenborn ukulele repair - Pt. 1

My clients send me the coolest instruments to work on, and no matter how small - its always an honor to work on them, and the approach and philosophy remains the same. This instrument is a Weissenborn Style 1 Soprano from the mid 1930s. It was found at a yardsale in California for fifty cents, and was a gift to its current owner who is learning the ukulele! 

While perhaps not the prettiest instrument Weissenborn ever made as far as color goes, it more than makes up for it in cool - being one of the few instruments made so late in Weissenborn's career and featuring spectacularly refined bridge work.

The brand features what I believe to be a straightened out 'eagles beak' and a nick to the shield left of the 'H' - Ca.1935.

Although the instrument came to my shop in unplayable condition - the restoration process was straight forward with the same approach I use for guitars. The only real difference being the difficulty of working inside an instrument so small! Repair list as below;
  • Re-glue loose seams on back to side, top to side joints respectively
  • Re-glue loose sides at heel
  • Re-glue top crack. No cleat required 
  • Re-glue loose braces; top and back
  • Re-glue loose bridge (existing, in place)
  • Make reproduction of missing top brace, distress and glue in place
  • Manufacture reproduction ivoroid soundhole 'inset', distressed
  • Replace vintage Waverly Pat. Pend. peg with matching original
  • Remove white paint from finish
  • Fine reproduction nut
  • Fret dress and setup

This was the only previous repair on the instrument. Years old, the hide glue had completely crystallized.

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