De Vékey Style 4 ukulele, c.1930

Aladar de Vékey was reputedly a Hungarian who opened a music shop in Bournemouth just before the First World War. He is believed to have been the first person to import Martin ukuleles into the UK, and around 1930 commissioned a range of high quality ukes bearing his own name. Four styles were available, with Styles 3 and 4 being the most ornate. They were probably made in Germany (Bohemia or Saxony), and were sold through his own store and in London.

This Style 4 was the most expensive and rarest model in the range. It is a tenor size - approximately 26 inches long with a 16.5 inch scale length. It has a fretboard which meets the body at the 10th fret rather than the 12th or higher, with a distinctive elongated style of body. Although they were made in small quantities and don’t often come up for sale they do have a reputation for being very good quality.

The Style 4 has an ebonised neck, spruce top and what appears to be rosewood back and sides. The sides are solid, but the back is a single sheet of wood (i.e. not book-matched), laminated on to a lighter wood, probably birch. This can be seen on the inside of the instrument.

The top is in good condition, although there is pick damage to the lacquer (which is probably French polish). The sides are also in good condition, apart from a few scratches. There are no cracks to the top or sides. The back has a number of superficial cracks, which appear to be in the top veneer only and are not visible inside. The instrument is structurally sound.

The ebonised neck is in good condition, with some wear under the first position. The ebony fretboard is straight and in excellent condition, as are the original bar frets – there is no sign of wear and although the ends were a little rough they have recently been reprofiled and polished.

The original brass tuners and plastic buttons are in excellent condition and work well.

All of the fingerboard and top inlay is in good condition. The front and back binding on the body is sound, although there is a small area of separation and shrinkage at the waist on the top, bass side.

Overall, the instrument is in very good condition for its age, with an excellent playing action and sound.

The original case is in reasonable condition. It has been repaired with black tape at the bottom end; the leather handle has been replaced; and one of the catches is broken.


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