Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gretsch Tenor Banjo and Ukulele

Here's a pair of vintage Gretsches - a tenor banjo and a soprano ukulele.  Hard to date these guys exactly, but they're both very cool pieces that can instantly evoke the music of the early-to-mid-twentieth century.  Picture a little hot jazz band powered by a brisk strum on either of these guys and I'd say you're pretty much on the money. 

The "T-Roof" logo appeared on Gretsch models starting in the late 40s/early 50s, which casts a pretty wide net on the age of the banjo, so I would hate to take a wild guess and be totally wrong here.  It's showing a reasonable bit of age and tarnish on the metal parts but no obvious signs of being 50+ years old - hardly any checking, in fact.  The uke is a little easier to date, as most of the Gretsch ukes were made in the fifties.

The craze for ukuleles is definately a cyclical thing - hitting in the 1920s, the 1950s, and right now, apparently!  The twee indie pop machine - "iPod rock," if you will - just gobbles these things up nowadays.  In fact, both of these instruments have gained a little more hipster appeal nowadays - this tenor banjo is tuned in fourths like a mandolin, making it perfect for a variety of folk/ethnic styles (Celtic, Gypsy, etcetera) that are also big with the kids these days.