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Sugarland Maybelle Banjolele

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Jul 6, 2020 - 6:54:34 PM
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2 posts since 7/6/2020

I was at a Flea Market the other day and saw what appeared to be an old Sugarland Maybelle Banjolele. It had a little girl (Maybelle?) on the head. I looked all over the internet and never saw anything like it. It looked to be something original but don't really know. Has anyone seen anything like this, or has any info I would appreciate the feedback. Thanks.

Jul 6, 2020 - 7:28:16 PM
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2418 posts since 3/30/2008

Slingerland, May Bell was a popular banjo uke in the 20-30's, & are still popular w/ players. Drawing on the head of a banjo uke was a common tradition, & are usually an after market touch.

Jul 6, 2020 - 9:12:06 PM
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978 posts since 1/9/2012

Maybe 15 years ago on eBay; 14" scale, 8" head. All it needed was a head, bridge, strings, and some spacers for the flat resonator. Maybe there are other sources, but I went with a Remo drum (not banjo) head, which needed a little coaxing to fit. I think it's sweet, but it sure makes a racket relative to wood-topped ukuleles. Sometimes I've put a piece of tongue depressor under the bridge. These days, I'm going with the racket.

I vaguely remembered some story about it being a drum company that changed hands in a card game? So I looked it up -- but only as far as Wikipedia. Supposedly, "Slingerland had won a correspondence school of music in a card game aboard one of the gaming boats that once cruised Lake Michigan. He then opened a music school in Chicago, and soon turned to manufacturing musical instruments as well." (1912) The company's greatest success was drums, famously for Gene Krupa...


Edited by - davidppp on 07/06/2020 21:12:57

Jul 7, 2020 - 6:35:43 AM

2 posts since 7/6/2020

Wow, that's beautiful. Thanks for the help.

Jul 8, 2020 - 11:36:25 AM

175 posts since 4/17/2015

I have always enjoyed the banjo uke head folk art tradition! Many of them are quite well done, while some are not. There is currently a classic "nude" one up on eBay, dated May 1934, on an unmarked instrument (also) stripped of most of its hardware. The only one I have features a satyr serenading a flapper "co-ed" , around the border is read "Yale" "Michigan" and a small sign posted "Keep Off The Grass" and is brightly colored. Many of them are simply black ink drawings of flappers and "Gibson girls" ("Gibson girls" represented the "New Woman" in the early 20th century, before one bobbed ones hair). And yes, many of the subjects are women. There is another on eBay at present with both a man and woman's faces in the Gibson (Charles Dana, not Orville) manner.

Edited by - Jarvie on 07/08/2020 11:37:03

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