PO Box 882 Elkins, WV 26241


Phone Hours; 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Eastern Time, Monday through Friday and occasionally on Saturday.

The Unusual contact us...

Page Updated 6-1-2024

Please Visit our Home Page for links to our banjos, guitars, fiddles, mandolins, and more.

For On-line Ordering, Please go to our new website;


Ukuleles, Mandolin Banjos, Dulcimers, and Electronic Tuners

1913 Gibson H-1 Mandola. At 111 years old, this instrument is definitely one of the cleanest vintage instruments to come through the doors in a long time. The details are exactly as one would expect. Maple reinforced mahogany neck with a 15-3/4" scale bound ebony fretboard and "The Gibson" proudly inlaid in the peghead. The body has birch back & sides with dark red finish. The top is carved from red spruce and has the orange/natural color know to Gibson aficionados as "pumpkin". All the hardware is original including tuners, tailpiece with the original "The Gibson" engraved cover, and the tortoise celluloid raised pickguard with the decorative hook near the bridge. The only weirdness with this instrument is the letter P with 12 numbers following scratched on the peghead. Probably a top secret "Kalamazoo kode", that, in the right hands, will lead to a secret stash of red spruce and highly figured hard maple. The neck is 1-5/16" at the nut, making it quite comfortable to play for us with large hands. Spa treatment here at the SFI shop included a refret with a fretboard dressing and polishing and installing a replacement patent stamped Gibson mandola bridge, as the original was cracked. If you have been looking for an instrument with a low C string, this one could be calling. $2,800 and the original excellent condition hard case is included. Photos

1949 Gibson EM-150 Electric Mandolin. My first memory of actually playing a Gibson EM-150 was in the mid 1980's at the Cuyahoga Valley Festival in Northeast Ohio. Johnny Gimble was a featured performer and when I asked him about his EM-150, he put it in my hands insisting that I check it out. How gracious of an internationally revered performer to trust his valuable working tool to a total stranger! With a limited production of about 22 years, this EM model is based on Gibson's A-50 mandolin. Specs include; mahogany neck with a Brazilian rosewood fretboard, spruce top, and solid maple back and sides, all finished in a classic sunburst that only Gibson could produce. To make this a "plug-in" model, a 4-pole P-90 pickup with tone and volume potentiometers were added to the top. On this mandolin's arrival at SFI, I saw the frets were quite worn and the pickguard had decomposing celluloid, inspiring me to do the following maintenance; Refret with medium wire. Considering the fretboard's playing wear and Gibson's inconsistent sanding, I dressed the board using a 20" radius. I happened to have a sheet of 5-ply ABS pickguard material from the 1980's that made a very respectable reproduction pickguard. I also removed and cleaned the electronics before reassembly & stringing. New knobs were installed on the Kluson tuners by the previous owner. This instrument now plays flawlessly with low action. Would Johnny Gimble approve? Maybe not. He strung his EM-150 with 4 strings, not 8. Easy enough to do if you want his specific western swing sound. And a heads up; though the instrument is based on an acoustic mandolin, the addition of the electronics adds enough weight to the top that the instrument sounds like a solid body mandolin when unplugged. All in all, this instrument is in excellent condition. It was played significantly, but never abused. It is priced at $1,900. A non-original TKL hard case is included. We also have the original, worn out, tan colored chipboard case. We'll be happy to include it if you like. Please ask. Photos

1970's(?) Werco Dixie Banjo-Uke. Werco made many thousands of these inexpensive banjo ukuleles starting after World-War II to the mid 1980's. I remember seeing them for sale in the Grossman jobber catalog from 1975 to about 1983. The construction features an unusual die-cast metal neck that you would think would be uncomfortable, but really works OK. The wood 7" rim is wrapped with blue sparkle plastic and painted black inside. All in all, a good playing & sounding banjo uke. Price is $200 and a gigbag is included. Photos

1940's Martin style 1C Concert Ukulele. If you were wanting to go as Roy Smeck for Halloween, it's important note that he played Harmony instruments. But, this stunning Martin uke is era-appropriate, and has an overall luxurious vibe sure to satisfy the needs of professional ukulele players both real & pretend. This style 1C is all mahogany, with spruce braces and bound top and back with tortoise shell colored celluloid binding. The fretboard is Brazilian rosewood with 12 frets, and it still has the original Champion tuners with black knobs. A beautifully resonant, well-balanced, well-playing vintage instrument. Yours for $1,350, including the original brown cardboard case by Silbertone of New York City. Photos


AS-IS Instruments

Here are some instruments that we are selling as-is. For details on our as-is pollicy, click here.

1920 Bacon Professional FF Internal Resonator Banjo Mandolin, as-is. Most of these hybrid banjos from high quality manufacturers are eventually relieved of their original necks and converted to 5-string banjos. With this one having a decent neck angle, we decided to string it as a banjo mandolin and see how it sounds and plays. Both aspects get a thumbs up. The 3-piece mahogany neck has a 14" scale ebonized maple fretboard. With a 1-3/16" nut width and 11/16" depth, it feels small in my hands. The 10" rim has the Bacon FF tonering, the previously mentioned internal resonator construction, and is fitted with a Remo Fiberskyn head. All metal hardware is original, including the Bacon engraved tailpiece cover. The neck is set to favor the G-string side, making the G-strings closer to the edge of the fretboard than the E-string pair, but they don't fall off when played. There are a few frets that buzz and a good fret dressing will take care of that. String height is 1/32" on the E and 3/64" on the G with a _" bridge. In good-very good condition, the as-is price is $550. Photos

1919 Vega Style K Rim with Later Tubaphone Banjo Mandolin Neck. A hodge podge of decent parts combined to make an as-is banjo-mandolin project. The neck came from a Vega Tubaphone style S. Maple neck with an ebony fretboard. The 10-1/8" Style K rim has 22 non-original matching hooks & nuts and original shoes. The neck seems loose from the non-original dowelstick and one tuner post is missing. A fun project if you want a decent banjo-mandolin on the cheap. As is for $150.

1921 Vega Style L Whyte Laydie Mandolin Banjo. This banjo needs a neck reset to be a playable banjo mandolin. But with original Whyte Laydie banjo rims being in demand for converting to 5-string instruments, this one is an ideal candidate. The 10-1/8" diameter rim has a calf skin head and most of it's original metal parts. The tailpiece is a replacement and its maker is unrecognizable. The as-is $800 price includes the original hard case that appears to have been coated with an epoxy of some sort. Photos

Circa 1880's Franz Schwarzer Concert Zither. Those in the know understand that the Washington, Missouri creations of Franz Schwarzer are some of the best concert zithers ever made. This one has Brazilian rosewood laminated to spruce back and top. The sides are a brighter species of rosewood that I can not identify. There are 5 strings on the neck and 27 bass strings. OK, there are tuners for all those strings. This instrument currently has only 10 strings, so you'll have to track down a set of strings and spend an evening with the included tuning wrench to be able to play The Third Man theme, or maybe take a page from Ken Bloom and give delta bottleneck blues a try. But were ever you go with this, make sure you have a zither table because you mother will have your head if you put this zither's three spiky ball feet directly on the family heirloom mahogany dining room table. The as-is price is $450 and includes the original hard case. Photos


Planet Waves NS Micro Tuner.
Original peghead tuner $24
Violin mount; $30
Guitar Soundhole tuner; $28
Banjo mount; $26


We ship most of our instruments via UPS. Cost to ship a mandolin is $20 to $40. Cost to ship a guitar or banjo is $25 to $60. The cost of insurance is extra. We will be happy to quote before shipping.

Small goods like banjo heads and other parts cost $9 per order for Priority Mail shipping in the continental US no matter what the order size. Micro orders weighing less than 12 ounces and valued less than $50 are usually shipped via first class mail for $6. The cost of orders headed out of the continental US will be quoted before they are shipped.

Sales Tax
We are legally obligated to charge 6% West Virginia sales tax on anything purchased here at the shop or shipped within the state of West Virginia. We do not charge sales tax on orders sent out of state.

To Order
Call us at 304-636-6710. For payment we accept checks, wire transfers and MasterCard & Visa. If you prefer Paypal, please send us an email requesting a Paypal invoice.

Occasionally a customer will let us know that the "Contact Us" button will not work on their computer. If you have that problem, please use sfi<at>smakula<dot>com You will have to change the <at> and <dot> to @ and .