Saturday, 14 December 2013

Gibson UB-4

The Gibson UB-4.

The concert scale version. Only bettered by the gold plated UB-5.

Made from Walnut, with inlaid peghead & fretboard. Diamond cut out flange around the resonator.

Quite a heavy uke, probably similar in weight to a Ludwig.

When i received the uke it was in a worn condition, with the expected corrosion to the metal parts. It also had a very high action, which i suspected there might be a problem!

Once the uke was stripped down, i had the hooks & bezel re-plated. The woodwork was polished and given a coat of tru-oil. There were 2 small cracks on the resonator, these were professionally repaired.

These Gibson ukes have an internal tone ring, which sits on top of the pot. Made from solid brass i think, so that was polished up and a new calf skin vellum was fitted.

When i put the uke back together i remembered the high action, and on close inspection i found that the screw which goes into the neck and attaches to the metal pole in the pot was loose.
So i was unable to get a good tight fixing with the neck at the right angle.
Once the screw was fixed tight, i was able to attach the neck to the pot, feed the perch pole through and tighten it enough to set the angle just right.
Some folk shove all sorts of bits down the back of the neck to create an angle. With this high quality, well built Gibson there was no need.
I choose GHS clear strings, and once they went on i could set up the instrument.

Playing the uke is a joy. It has a very clear, crisp tone. As you would expect from a Gibson.
I found that when played gently it brought out the tone even more, but it was also very well suited to playing Formby style. Then it came across very powerfully, but was still clear.

A very satisfying uke to restore, beautifully cut wood, with stunning looks.

Quite possibly the daddy of Banjoleles?
Almost ready to put back together! really want to hear how it sounds

Heres the perch pole, it tightens to adjust the angle of the neck

Notice the fabulously Art-Deco inlays

Complete with original case

look at the grain in the wood!

All finished!


  1. Why does everyone feel the need to replate a vintage banjo uke? Better just to leave it alone. The finish too...

  2. you are in the minority there buddy