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1930s Harmony Roy Smeck Vita Ukulele

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In the late 1920’s, Roy Smeck became one of the most popular musical performers in North America, playing and endorsing numerous instruments and publishing method books. Promoted as ‘The Wizard of the Strings’, Roy Smeck played Banjo, Guitar and Ukulele on stages, recordings and radio shows around the United States. It’s hard to overstate his influence at the time.

While Smeck preferred Martin products, their endorsement terms weren’t very generous, so he endorsed other brands, including Gibson and Harmony.

The Harmony Roy Smeck Vita Ukulele was built from 1927 to the mid-late 1930s in Chicago, Illinois, and is named for Smeck’s work with Vitaphone, a phonograph disc based system for film sound. With Vitaphone, the film and soundtrack were physically separate, though after soundtracks started being printed on the film, the trademark was re-used.

Harmony also made Roy Smeck Vita Tenor, Hawaiian and Spanish Guitars and Mandolins. The line features a teardrop-shaped body, with distinctively flamed Cuban Mahogany for the back and sides, mahogany for the neck, and Rosewood for the fingerboard and bridge. The top is Spruce and features unique soundholes, shaped suspiciously like seals. The Harmony company claimed that this shape enhanced the tone and volume output. The Vita Uke has a 14 inch scale length.

This example has a Beare and Son label. Beare and Son was founded in 1892 in London, England and still operates. In the 1930’s, they also had a branch in Toronto, as indicated on the label.

The instrument plays well, and is in overall good condition though there is some scuffing and scratches, typical of an instrument approaching 90 years old.

An older fibre case, meaning cardboard, is included and may be the original case.

Price: $650 CAD
  • Model: Roy Smeck Vita
  • Year: 1932 | Approximate year
  • Finish Natural
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: N/A, likely built during the early 1930's at the Harmony plant in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 07/07/2017

  • Consignment Item

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