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Griffis
05-21-2016, 05:49 AM
This is a culmination of the thread here:

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?120400-Shopping-for-concert

After pretty much deciding on a Gretsch for my cheapish concert uke, I was gonna order online, but checked for local dealers and there was one nearby. Called 'em and they had a few Gretsch (and other) ukes. So I headed up there. I always prefer to play an instrument first rather than buy online when it's possible.

Most of what they had was stuff I'm not at all interested in...ukes that look like little Les Pauls, ukes with goofy graphics all over them...nothing wrong with any of that, but not my thing.

They had several Gretsches including--and I found this hard to pass up--a Gretsch closed-back banjo uke that was really, really sweet. Oh man, the neck on that thing was amazing...if I ever decide I can't live without a banjo uke, that'll probably be the one. But it was around $250.

They had two of the same model I was planning to buy (just a plain concert--model G9110) as well as a tenor, a soprano, an acoustic/electric concert, a concert that was same as the one I was looking at, but with a solid mahogany top (instead of laminate.) That one was $400 and it didn't sound nearly as good to me as the two laminates I tried out. My wife concurred, and she is a far better musician than I, so I respect her input.

So I picked out the one I liked best of the two concerts, but there was one other one that seriously was calling my name, and that was a soprano, but with a longer neck. The neck length was near exactly the same as the concert, but with a soprano body. I really went back and forth there. Again. my wife gave great feedback regarding volume, tone, brightness, brashness, mellowness, etc.

I really did dig that long neck soprano but in the end I went with the regular concert. To me it just sounded and felt the best out of all the ones I played (including the $400 non-laminate top Gretsch.)

Comes with a little canvas gig bag (worthless for protection, but they didn't have any hardshells...I'll fix that later.) Sorta cool, the bag itself is just like the ones Gretsch used to use for their ukes and camp ukes back in the 40s and 50s.

I am really, really happy with it. Haven't got to spend much time with it but was playing it again this morning and it is sure sweet.

Also, thought the pics of these Gretsch ukes I've seen online all have friction tuners, the one I got (and all the other ones they had in the store) all had cheap-ish open geared tuners. They seem to work fine. I was beginning to dig the idea of friction pegs, but these seem okay. As long as they do the job, no need to replace them. In fact, everything about this thing is in good shape...decent action, nut cut well...I need to file some fret ends down, but that's quick and easy and seems like I have to do it with every string instrument I get these days. The action on this is great, no buzzing.

Plus, I got it for $20 less than I could find it online anywhere. And it was cheaper than the long neck soprano, which was another (albeit minor) factor in the decision.

I do plan to swap out the strings for a low G set, or maybe just get a low G string and swap it out. It came with what I am sure are Aquilas. I'd recognize the sound and feel of those anywhere.

In a haze of a stupor of morning pre-coffee fogginess I snapped a couple of pics (attached) but they are terrible. If it's a nice day I'll shoot a few more outside later and post them.

912929129391294

Griffis
05-21-2016, 05:54 AM
PS-- other ukes that were in the running were the Cordoba 15CM and the Oscar Schmidt OU2 or OU3 (both of which I have owned before, years back.)

Part of the reason I went with the Gretsch is because of all the ones I was deciding between, I thought it best replicated what (to my mind) is the "classic" uke look, which (to my mind) is something like the old mahogany Martins of yore.

Also, I have always been a Gretsch fan. When I played drums fairly regularly, I had a Gretsch set. I've owned several Gretsch electric guitars and basses over the years and for a very long time my acoustic steel string guitar was a Gretsch.

Even though the company has gone through many changes and is now owned by Fender Musical Instrument Corp, I still like their products...to me they are classy, somewhat unique among guitar manufacturers and I appreciate their overall sound and aesthetics.

Also, I used to own a vintage 40s-era Gretsch soprano and it was one heck of a uke.

I think she's a keeper.

johnson430
05-21-2016, 05:57 AM
Congrats. Glad you found one you could play in person.
Enjoy!

jollyboy
05-21-2016, 07:20 AM
I agree that the vintage styling of the Gretsch is nice - and I remember hearing a sound sample and being pretty impressed. Congrats :)

kissing
05-21-2016, 07:20 AM
I was under the impression Gretsch installed Grover geared tuners, which are actually high quality and will never need replacing.
Have a look at the area near the gears - do you see "Grover" written on them?

This is subject to debate, but I vastly prefer geared tuners over friction tuners.

The only advantages of friction tuners on ukulele are:
-Looks "traditional"
-Reduce weight at the headstock, so the instrument isn't top-heavy

When it comes to tuning and adjusting on a day to day basis, geared tuners win without debate.
Especially if you are like me and re-tuned everyday... friction tuners are a nightmare, and I personally refuse to own any ukulele with friction tuners.
In my view, friction tuners are not "traditional", but obsolete. Some people seem to like them though.

If I had an ukulele I liked with friction tuners, I would swiftly have them replaced with geared tuners.

cml
05-21-2016, 08:21 AM
Gretsch does have Groover geared tuners, at least their higher end ukes. Mine does but it is their top of the line solid koa uke. It looks very similar to your new uke Griffis, only a little more inlay on the fretboard. I too really like the look of Gretsch.
I think you made a wise choice with the laminate mate, from what you described of how and where you are going to use it, it'll be a winner for sure.

Congrats!

Camsuke
05-21-2016, 11:29 AM
Congratulations Griffis, enjoy it!

drbekken
05-21-2016, 08:59 PM
I have a Gretsch tenor, tuned to dGBE. It's an all laminate mahogany instrument. The tuners are open geared Grovers. It's a very sweet-sounding instrument. I like it a lot.

Just Russ
05-21-2016, 10:14 PM
Congratulations on the new uke! I've been wanting to try out the Gretsch ukes for a while, but always get distracted by others. It feels like it will happen eventually, though. I'm a big fan of Gretsch guitars and just got a Silver Jet to go with my 6118T earlier this year.

They've gone through changes alright, but FMIC doesn't own them. Fred Gretsch III still owns the company. He made a deal with FMIC to handle marketing and distribution. It worked out well because the reps at Fender that have been helping (Joe Carducci has been in charge of that field since 2006 or 2007 if I remember right) really love the brand as well and have been trying to get them back to a new golden era, which we've been seeing since FMIC Gretsches have been pretty stellar since 03-04 to present.

Ukejenny
05-22-2016, 11:26 AM
My husband has a Gretsch tenor - his first ukulele. We love that thing! They are great instruments. I hope you will enjoy it for a long time!