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Thread: Gretsch NYC camp ukulele restoration

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Chester, VT
    Posts
    311

    Default Gretsch NYC camp ukulele restoration

    I need help -
    I have acquired an old camp ukulele and I will be doing some refinishing and probably stripping as the body is bare wood and someone has attacked the neck.
    My first goal is to separate the neck from the body as it is loose. I could try and put glue into the crack but prefer to remove and then replace if possible. Has anyone done this? If so please let me know how to do this without damaging anything.

    Thanks - Ian
    Kamaka pineapple soprano gold label - 1950s
    Kamaka custom soprano, gold label. 1960s?
    Kamaka tenor - 2002
    Koaloha Opio long neck soprano. 2016
    Mele, Braddah tenor 1990s
    Bruko #6 soprano, flat back, pre 1980
    Gretsch NYC - old and beat up camp ukulele - fixed up as a player.
    Luna tenor - laminate and to use as a loaner.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Chester, VT
    Posts
    311

    Default

    Good news - the neck is off with the judicious use of a razor blade and modest pressure. It will go back with hide glue.
    Meanwhile as the body is stripped of paint and the neck also except for the headstock, I intend to strip the paint on the fingerboard as not only are the two coats of original paint there, and cracked, but someone tries to varnish the whole thing. I am trying to decide how to finish the instrument Color or plain wood?
    Kamaka pineapple soprano gold label - 1950s
    Kamaka custom soprano, gold label. 1960s?
    Kamaka tenor - 2002
    Koaloha Opio long neck soprano. 2016
    Mele, Braddah tenor 1990s
    Bruko #6 soprano, flat back, pre 1980
    Gretsch NYC - old and beat up camp ukulele - fixed up as a player.
    Luna tenor - laminate and to use as a loaner.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Little River, California
    Posts
    2,065

    Default

    Send pictures! ... I have trouble visualizing a painted fretboard.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Chester, VT
    Posts
    311

    Default Before and after

    IMG_0759.jpgIMG_2961.jpgAttachment 117430IMG_1208.jpg
    IMG_5139.jpg

    I have finished returning this old uke to playability. It was not pretty when I bought it and now it is far removed from its original form. I am thrilled by it though and I love the Graph Tech tune-a-leles that are sort of funky to look at and a real joy to use. The neck was a painted over disaster with cracks in the original, had been filled, and cracked again. It was a cheap instrument in the 1920s! I have never liked painted necks!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Kamaka pineapple soprano gold label - 1950s
    Kamaka custom soprano, gold label. 1960s?
    Kamaka tenor - 2002
    Koaloha Opio long neck soprano. 2016
    Mele, Braddah tenor 1990s
    Bruko #6 soprano, flat back, pre 1980
    Gretsch NYC - old and beat up camp ukulele - fixed up as a player.
    Luna tenor - laminate and to use as a loaner.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    48

    Default

    The sound hole and saddle look to be way off center. Am I seeing things? Maybe it's the camera angle.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Chester, VT
    Posts
    311

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Junie Moon View Post
    The sound hole and saddle look to be way off center. Am I seeing things? Maybe it's the camera angle.
    You are correct - it is asymmetrical so say the least! However it plays and is fun.
    Kamaka pineapple soprano gold label - 1950s
    Kamaka custom soprano, gold label. 1960s?
    Kamaka tenor - 2002
    Koaloha Opio long neck soprano. 2016
    Mele, Braddah tenor 1990s
    Bruko #6 soprano, flat back, pre 1980
    Gretsch NYC - old and beat up camp ukulele - fixed up as a player.
    Luna tenor - laminate and to use as a loaner.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Petaluma, CA
    Posts
    65

    Default

    I got one that had seen too many camp fires, so I resurrected it as as Camp Rod, inspired by my early infatuation with 50s rockers back in 1957.campprod front .jpgCamprod side.jpg

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Chester, VT
    Posts
    311

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PetalumaRescuke View Post
    I got one that had seen too many camp fires, so I resurrected it as as Camp Rod, inspired by my early infatuation with 50s rockers back in 1957.campprod front .jpgCamprod side.jpg
    I love it when folk will not let a great instrument die. Thanks for sharing.
    Kamaka pineapple soprano gold label - 1950s
    Kamaka custom soprano, gold label. 1960s?
    Kamaka tenor - 2002
    Koaloha Opio long neck soprano. 2016
    Mele, Braddah tenor 1990s
    Bruko #6 soprano, flat back, pre 1980
    Gretsch NYC - old and beat up camp ukulele - fixed up as a player.
    Luna tenor - laminate and to use as a loaner.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Little River, California
    Posts
    2,065

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by frianm View Post
    You are correct - it is asymmetrical so say the least! However it plays and is fun.
    It was supposed to be that way by design. Emphasizes the lower upper midtones. Nice restoration by the way. Obviously some kid decided they needed to paint the fretboard. And right over the frets too!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Chester, VT
    Posts
    311

    Default

    I have seen a few painted fretboards in South America. In this case the fretboard was painted by Gretsch but someone decided to overpaint it and in effect level the frets with the buildup. It just took scraping with a razor blade and some mild heat to remove the layers. Thanks for the encouragement, it makes a difference.
    Kamaka pineapple soprano gold label - 1950s
    Kamaka custom soprano, gold label. 1960s?
    Kamaka tenor - 2002
    Koaloha Opio long neck soprano. 2016
    Mele, Braddah tenor 1990s
    Bruko #6 soprano, flat back, pre 1980
    Gretsch NYC - old and beat up camp ukulele - fixed up as a player.
    Luna tenor - laminate and to use as a loaner.

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