Wednesday, 13 June 2012

I gaze at my Slingerland banjo-uke with slight trepidation...

More problems with that friction tuner - and adjustments to the vellum and tension hooks?.....aaaaaagh!

At the GFS meeting on the weekend, I realised I'd still got problems with my little 1920's Slingerland Maybelle when I found that I needed to tune it in D for the "Thrash". The Thrash is where anybody with a banjolele or uke can get up, join the peformers at the front, and simply join in as best they can, playing the songs. It's enormous fun - but you have to be tuned in D. Why tune in D? I'll come to that later.

So - as she was tuned in C, I tried to tighten the strings up to a whole tone higher. The C string wouldn't hold it. I went on the hunt for a helpful soul with a screwdriver to tighten the screw on the friction tuner. Someone had a Swiss Army knife, and Peter Nixon kindly used it to tighten the screw - thank you, gentlemen; success, it holds. Then to the E string tuner, the one I had such a problem with when I first had the uke about three months ago. I fixed it that time, well enough to hold the E note.... I stripped the tuner down and made some little thin rubber washers, and that worked, well enough to tune the instrument in C - but it will not hold a higher note at all, the added tension is just too strong. And the screw will not tighten any more.

Dennis Mitchell, the Chairman of the GFS, is such a kind man. He was next to me in the tea queue at break, and had noticed my little Slingerland in the Thrash. I told him about the problem tuning it in D. "Come on, let me have a look at it..."

So he looked her over and gave me a complete appraisal... I need to find some tiny washers to lengthen the tuner, to give the offending screw more room, so that it will tighten a little more - should be simple enough. Apparently a model shop is the place to get the right washers.

It's the rest of it that's frightening me...
My Slingerland is a model 18, with sixteen tension hooks. A few of the bolts holding the tension hooks to the body of the uke are not flush to the wood, and need tightening up. But I need to take the strings off and loosen off the vellum before I tighten them up. When I put the vellum back, apparently I need to get the metal rim round the top pushed further down than it is at present. Dennis thought it shouldn't hold too many terrors for me......! Which was rather reassuring, but - looking at it, I think that's not going to be easy - for me, a complete banjo-uke novice. Beacause I just don't think it's going to "go"... but it needs to be tackled, so when I've psyched myself up, I shall make a start.... cross your fingers for me!
Now then, where's me tool-kit......

1 comment:

  1. You'll be fine. Just remember to tighten each hook a little at a time and move round and round.


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