1930s Gretsch "Camp" Ukulele

An instrument-amassing buddy of mine traded me this Gretsch "Camp" uke (among other things) for a different instrument and I pressed this guy into my service after repairs and fitting with a K&K pickup. I've needed a wood-bodied uke with a pickup in it for recording purposes but haven't had the heart to drill-out one of the fancier ukes around the house for one, so this arrived just at the right time. Yes... and I even like the color!

I was supposed to receive one of these very ukes in a trade-for-work deal some years back but that guy decided to collect his uke and the other uke he'd left here for repairs and then never pay me for the work on either. That's only the second time that's ever happened to me in 13+ years of trusting folks while doing this biz and I liked the color which is the reason I remember it. Oh well!

So -- about this uke? It's solid... poplar? ...throughout. It's very plain-Jane aside from the cool paint scheme. The whole instrument is borrowed from the Lyon & Healy Camp Ukes (see here, see here, and see here) which are fancier, better-made instruments and have a more-refined tone. This Gretsch "Camp" uke sounds a lot like a poplar-topped Favilla -- wide-sounding, warm-sounding, and sweet and mellow. It doesn't have the sparkle or clarity of the "real" Camp Ukes but it does make a relaxed strummer.

In addition to "the usual work" I fit Gotoh 4:1 tuners at the headstock with "keystone" buttons which look very close to what was originally on the instrument -- keystone-buttoned friction pegs.

Repairs included: neck reset, side dots, seam repairs, fret level/dress, new Gotoh UPT 4:1 pegs, setup.

Top wood: solid poplar?
Back & sides wood: solid poplar?
Bracing type: ladder
Bridge: poplar?
Fretboard: part of the neck
Neck wood: poplar?
Action height at 12th fret: 1/16" overall (fast)
String gauges: D'Addario EJ99T fluorocarbon
Neck shape: medium C
Board radius: flat
Neck relief: straight
Fret style: low/small brass
Scale length: 13 1/2"
Nut width: 1 1/4"
Body width: 8"
Body depth: 2 3/8"
Weight: 1 lb 3 oz

Condition notes: it's all-original save for new tuners and side dots. The frets used to be painted-over from the factory but my level/dress job mean they now look "normal." There's very little wear on the instrument but the neck joint shows a bit of disturbance from my shimming-back the neck angle and touching it up. I may paint the fill to look more appropriate. It has a K&K pickup installed with a jack at the side, too.











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