12/05/2014

1930s Gretsch "Super-Standard" #39+ Koa Soprano Uke




I actually think this is probably a late 20s, early 30s model and perhaps even a grade or three above the #39 that can be found in AcousticMusic's scan of the 1936 Gretsch catalog (page 42), but regardless of what and when... this is a superlative uke. It's fancy as a high-end Martin and has an equally good-quality feel and build decked out with a body made of slightly curly Hawaiian koa wood.

There were some old repairs: overspray, some half-glued cracks (just shot in, not cleated... which is sometimes OK but not with the extent of cracking on this uke), and perhaps an old bridge reglue... but my work included cleating and sealing up all those longish hairline cracks, main back brace reglue, seam repairs, a fret level/dress, saddle shave, and setup. The owner of this instrument supplied the Aquila Red strings and boy do they suit this little number.



The first thing you notice is the gorgeous orange koa... and then you notice the fancy-grade multi-ply binding all over the place. It's hard to stress how rare such a high-grade Gretsch actually is. I've never seen one (personally) that's as fancy as this one.


The headstock has a sumptuous pearl inlay and comes equipped with spring-loaded high-grade friction pegs. The nut is celluloid and everything is original to the uke.


The fretboard is bound, has side dots, pearl diamonds, and appears to be a very fine-grained rosewood. The neck shape is a medium C and feels great. I can easily switch between fingerpicking and tight chords up and down the neck. I had a lot of fun exploring the upper frets, too, which I normally can't do with the usual stuff that comes through the shop (12 fret vintage ukes).








There are those classy pegs and the "Gretsch American" brand which was included on their in-house better-quality instruments.


Who doesn't love a fancy heel cap?

The neck is actually mahogany as opposed to the koa featured in the body. Lyon & Healy also mismatched neck and body woods quite a lot on their fancy instruments.





They even added that cute endstrip line, too. I'm pretty jealous of this thing's owner...! It's hard to resist bejeweled high-grade ukes. Something about small and over-the-top...

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