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View Full Version : New "Camp Uke", O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I chortled in my joy.



Turtle
12-20-2010, 11:55 AM
I've been purchasing a few ukes to work on learning some basic repair skills. Mostly items with crack or missing bridges.

But, I couldn't resist a shot at a nice Lyon and Healy "Camp Uke" that actually not only didn't need any repairs but was in great condition. It arrived today. What a sweet little uke. The finger board is narrower than what I am used to but it is in really top notch condition. You wouldn't believe it was over 75 years old.

18660

While I was waiting for it to be delivered, I did a little research about Camp Ukes. This one is a Lyon and Healy probably made in the 1920s. There are several conflicting reports I have read. The Ukulele Hall of Fame website states

"Some models had no soundhole at all, while more often they featured a circular or oval soundhole (like yours). Some have a flat wooden back, others have a turned wooden back. Fancier models like yours featured a gold-leaf decal below the bridge.The "Camp Uke" name was registered by Lyon and Healy in 1923, but they claimed first use in 1921. Lyon and Healy used unusual woods on some of their ukuleles. The Camp Ukes were made from Nyssa wood. The 1925 Lyon and Healy catalog features three models of Camp Uke all "made of two-ply, laminated Nyssa wood". It goes on to explain that "Laminated means that the wood is two layers, the grains cross-wise, carefully glued together. The one layer reinforces the other. Nyssa wood is strong, not easily cracked, and possesses wonderful vibrating qualities.""

On the Antebellum Instruments Website, there is a twin of my Camp Uke.

http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2009/01/c1925-lyon-healy-monkeypod-camp-uke.html

It is identical in terms of the soundhole, tuners, turned back, and fretboard markers. That sight states that the uke was made from Monkeypod Wood.

I don't think mine is laminated. Examining the edges of the soundhole under 10x magnification, shows all the grain of the wood going through the full width of the soundboard with no indication of being a laminate.

I'm curious about other people's experiences with Camp Ukes.

Yayyyy!

Turtle

Chris Tarman
12-20-2010, 12:46 PM
That's really cool. I've seen quite a few of the Gretsch version on eBay, but never even knew about the L&H version. I don't know anything about them, but that is an awesome find!

Turtle
12-20-2010, 03:07 PM
Wow Chris! You certainly don't have a shortage of cool ukes. What a great collection.

Lori
12-20-2010, 04:25 PM
Wow, nice find! Congratulations. I would love to hear how it sounds. Will you do a video? I have always been interested in those "Camp Ukes" and I bet the L&H will sound great.

–Lori

Chris Tarman
12-20-2010, 04:58 PM
Wow Chris! You certainly don't have a shortage of cool ukes. What a great collection.

Thanks Turtle! My wife doesn't roll her eyes so much anymore. It's way past that stage.

janeray1940
12-20-2010, 05:07 PM
I'm curious about other people's experiences with Camp Ukes.



I've wanted one of these for-absolutely-ever. Here's the story of the one that got away.

The closest I got to one was winning one on eBay - unrestored, but the "deluxe" camp uke with the gold leaf, and no cracks or problems that I could see from the photos anyway. Sixty bucks. A couple days after I paid for it, the seller emailed me to tell me that while packing it they dropped it and it shattered into many pieces. They included a couple photos - they weren't exaggerating, the uke was beyond repair :(

Turtle
12-20-2010, 05:23 PM
I've wanted one of these for-absolutely-ever. Here's the story of the one that got away.

The closest I got to one was winning one on eBay - unrestored, but the "deluxe" camp uke with the gold leaf, and no cracks or problems that I could see from the photos anyway. Sixty bucks. A couple days after I paid for it, the seller emailed me to tell me that while packing it they dropped it and it shattered into many pieces. They included a couple photos - they weren't exaggerating, the uke was beyond repair :(

What a heartbreaking story. I bet the gold leaf was really beautiful.

I just put a new set of Aquilas on and the uke definitely likes them. She is much louder with a better tonal range. It'll be a little while before they are stretched and holing tune. But I'm really happy so far.

southcoastukes
12-20-2010, 08:42 PM
I also had seen only Gretsch models until now. L&H should be much nicer.

What I really found fascinating was such an early use of Monkeypod. I have heard the term "Nyssa" before, but can't recall the context. Monkeypod is native to Central America where we build and there it is called Cenizaro. It is now all over the tropical world, mainly as an ornametal because the tree is gorgeous in flower. This includes Hawaii, where ukuleles have been made from it. We do the same, of course, but I thought the use in Hawaii was much more recent.

I wonder if L&H's use of this wood came by way of Hawaii, or if they had sources in Latin America? Any deep L&H historians out there?

Here is a link to our Soprano page (with tiny pictures of a uke in Monkeypod)

http://www.southcoastukes.com/index_files/sopuke.htm

It is finally being recognized as a truly premier tonewood. Here is a link to a Guitar Builder, Jeffrey Yong, whose Monkeypod Guitars have been winning all sorts of International Competitions (better pictures):

http://www.gimmusic.com/gallery7.htm

With L&H construction and the Monkeypod body, I would call this one a real treasure!

Teek
12-20-2010, 10:10 PM
Killer camp uke, just awesome! Glad it found a good home. :)

Skitzic
12-21-2010, 02:59 AM
Camp ukes FTW! What's the sound like? I have a Mahalo camp uke and I think it sounds real twangy, almost reminds me of a banjo. I'd be interested to hear what yours sounds like.

Turtle
12-23-2010, 05:28 AM
Well, I don't seem to have an easy way at this point to get a sound file onto the web. The sound of the Camp Uke is definitely different than my other ukes. More twangy. I think that Skitzic is right about it having a tone more similar to a banjo uke. I like it and it has a great sound, especially when strumming. I'm actually not as much of a strummer. I've been slowly (and painfully) working on classical music ala John King (RIP) and Welti's online book. Probably the thing that is most difficult for me about the Camp Uke is the narrower fingerboard than I am used to. My Kala soprano is 1 3/8 inches (34.9 mm) at the nut and the Camp Uke is 1 1/4 inches (31.75 mm). You wouldn't think that 1/8 of an inch would make that much difference but it does.

southcoastukes
12-24-2010, 09:19 AM
I finally remebered where I have heard the term "Nyssa". From the trees in my yard! Around here they are called Tupelo or Black Gum. Yours has a color and grain that could be Monkeypod, but the markings are not as strong as generally found.

Perhaps you have a Tupelo Uke! If you want to post a close-up of the wood, I can probably give you a definite ID.

KamakOzzie
12-24-2010, 10:24 AM
Probably the thing that is most difficult for me about the Camp Uke is the narrower fingerboard than I am used to. My Kala soprano is 1 3/8 inches (34.9 mm) at the nut and the Camp Uke is 1 1/4 inches (31.75 mm). You wouldn't think that 1/8 of an inch would make that much difference but it does.

My Gretsch camp uke is also 1 1/4" at the nut. I would describe the sound as "thinner" than my sopranos.
Bill

ukukimmy
04-07-2011, 01:09 PM
A few years late, but I figured I'd reply anyways...I have just picked up a similar Lyon & Healy "Camp Uke", but mine is in need of some work. There is a crack on the front body that goes the length of the front and all the way through. It's got the gold leaf and the sound hole for this one is in the back. If I had to guess between it being Nyssa or monkeypod, my guess is monkeypod. Based on the fact that it does not appear to be a laminate. The monkey pod I'm familiar with is darker and seems to have a different grain, but it could be that I've only seen a particular variety? Who knows. I do know that it's one, totally adorable and cute uke! :)

I sent an email to L&H to see if there was anyone there with historical knowledge of their old instruments, but to date, I have received no reply.

Do you enjoy playing yours??? How about it's sound???

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=22355&d=1302212145

I'll add pics when it's been restored. Crossing fingers (except when strumming) and toes...

WestPhillyUke
04-07-2011, 02:37 PM
I came very close to sniping this one! It was a great buy. Enjoy!

hmgberg
04-07-2011, 06:17 PM
I've wanted one of these for-absolutely-ever. Here's the story of the one that got away.

The closest I got to one was winning one on eBay - unrestored, but the "deluxe" camp uke with the gold leaf, and no cracks or problems that I could see from the photos anyway. Sixty bucks. A couple days after I paid for it, the seller emailed me to tell me that while packing it they dropped it and it shattered into many pieces. They included a couple photos - they weren't exaggerating, the uke was beyond repair :(

That's a sad story, Jane. Had I known you wanted one, I could have helped you out. There was an L&H camp uke on Ebay yesterday, I believe, "buy it now" for around $89.00. If you PM me with your wants and I'll keep an eye out.

ukukimmy
04-08-2011, 09:14 AM
Doing some research on the L&H instruments online, I stumbled across this in Google Books...Chapter 1 of a book titled "Washburn Prewar Instrument Styles: Guitars, Mandolins, Banjos and Ukuleles ... By Hubert Pleijsier happens to be titled "A brief history of Lyon & Healy and the 'Washburn' brand (http://books.google.com/books?id=E8Iai8gr3jEC&lpg=PA3&ots=vh9GzWj8vP&dq=%22camp%20uke%22%20lyon&lr&pg=PP4#v=onepage&q=%22camp%20uke%22%20lyon&f=false)". Page 16 has a short snippet of info on the "Camp Ukes" and in the citations you can see the patent numbers:

"...The last of Kirk's (Walter Kirk) patent applications was submitted in 1923 for the successful Camp Uke, a cheap but serious musical instrument sold in large numbers by Lyon & Healy..."

Plugging in the patent numbers into the United States Patent and Trademark Office database got me this...

http://patimg2.uspto.gov/.piw?docid=01757577&PageNum=1&IDKey=BFDCFFFFD859&HomeUrl=http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2%2526Sect2=HITOFF%2526p=1%2526u=% 25252Fnetahtml%25252FPTO%25252Fsearch-bool.html%2526r=1%2526f=G%2526l=50%2526co1=AND%252 6d=PALL%2526s1=1,757,577%2526OS=1,757,577%2526RS=1 ,757,577

http://patimg1.uspto.gov/.piw?docid=01750843&PageNum=1&&IDKey=74E62B841825&HomeUrl=http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2%2526Sect2=HITOFF%2526p=1%2526u=% 25252Fnetahtml%25252FPTO%25252Fsearch-bool.html%2526r=2%2526f=G%2526l=50%2526co1=AND%252 6d=PALL%2526s1=1750843%2526OS=1750843%2526RS=17508 43

Click on the <- -> to see all of the pages of the patent(s).

I just thought that was too cool. not to share. Haven't found the patent for the one I've got though.

janeray1940
04-08-2011, 09:17 AM
That's a sad story, Jane. Had I known you wanted one, I could have helped you out. There was an L&H camp uke on Ebay yesterday, I believe, "buy it now" for around $89.00. If you PM me with your wants and I'll keep an eye out.

Hey, thank you for thinking of me! This is the only vintage instrument still on the wish list, but due to my current circumstances I can only window-shop and not buy right now. Better that I didn't see it in time, because at only $89 I'd have been tempted to spring for it!

ukulelecowboy
04-08-2011, 09:26 AM
Well, I don't seem to have an easy way at this point to get a sound file onto the web.

Turtle,

Check out soundcloud.com

You can upload audio files and share them everywhere. And it's free. Love to hear your uke.

We have a Gretsch Camp (blue with red tuners) and a L & H Camp without the turned resonator.

Congrats...

ukukimmy
04-10-2011, 05:58 AM
I wrote to the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum about the the camp uke I picked up and they replied including this page on them from an old L&H catalog. Thought I'd pass it along here:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=22459&d=1302447163