banjo ukulele by dennis taylor
The Abbott Monarch Banjo Ukulele
Made by Jack Abbott Jr. who learned the craft of instrument making in his fathers workshop. When his father joined Besson Co., he established his own one room workshop at several addresses in the London area, mainly manufacturing high quality guitars. He is credited with produced the first 'electric' guitar. He also made a few banjos which were branded ‘Abbott Victor’. He gave up business in 1957, but came out of retirement in 1970 and made approximately 200 Banjo Ukuleles for 'The George Formby Society’ members. He retired again in 1978. Sadly, Jack died in February 1994. His instruments were based on his fathers ‘Monarch’ Banjo Ukulele, although they were much better made and more elaborate and decorative. This instrument has a top tensioned scalloped bezel, a rosewood fingerboard ornately inlaid with mother of pearl and sixteen frets. The resonator is beautifully inlaid with coloured woods in a unique design. A solid instrument with lots of volume and tone quality.
THE ABBOTT ‘BABY’ BANJO UKULELE This instrument is an unusual Abbott design. There were only SIX of these instruments made to order. Having fourteen tension rods, sixteen frets and a flat back resonator, this is a powerful instrument with crisp clear sound. Based on the Gibson UB2. It has a mahogany spliced neck, hoop and resonator with a chromium plated ring. The pull down bottom tension rods are actually set in the ring. New silver steel tensioners have been fitted due to breakage of the original chrome brass type. This instrument was originally made to order for a member of the GFS, for a cost of £86 in the mid 70’s, including a case. It was sold to another member of the GFS who purchased it for £150 just over 12 years ago.
Every Abbott ‘Monarch' was an individually hand crafted instrument with many different small design differences. Since these instruments were effectively home made, normally without reliance on machine made parts where possible, other people were occasionally asked to help. For example, the scalloped bezel on this instrument was made by another instrument maker, Richard Shellard. It has a spliced maple neck, a decorated rosewood resonator, mother of pearl inlays in the ebony fingerboard and peghead which also has geared pegs. It has fourteen bottom tensioners and seventeen frets. It was made in 1974 for a GFS member, then sold to another GFS member for £850 in 1992 and purchased for the same price by its current owner in June1993.
A JACK ABBOTT JNR MONARCH A simple and straightforward instrument based very closely on his fathers ‘Monarch’ design. A lightweight, very easy to handle and play, simply decorated but having remarkable quality of sound and volume. It has a spliced maple neck, a rosewood peghead, fingerboard and a rosewood resonator which has a simple pearlised centre decoration. It is fitted with fourteen bottom tensioners. Another highly sought after and cherished instrument, currently owned by a member of 'The George Formby Society'.