Gretsch Clarophone Banjolele banjo Ukulele

My Old Clarophone

original new york made gretsch clarophone banjo ukelele
american made 1930's Banjo Ukulele
Pre War new york made gretsch banjo ukelele
It has Aquila strings on and is tuned g~C~E~A

original new york made gretsch clarophone banjo ukelele

modern chinese made gretch claraphone banjolele banjo at Lardy's Ukulele Database

A New Clarophone
(open backed)

Gretsch Clarophone

Gretsch was one of the big New York chordophone manufacturers of the last Century, (they are back in business today but I'm not sure how much control the Gretsch family has on the business and I know the current Ukuleles are made in the Far East not New York) Founded by Fred Gretsch and produced in Brooklyn, Clarophone was the brand name given to some of their banjo production. My Clarophone was, I believe, produced some time in the 1930's.

The Banjolele itself is in very good condition for its age, obviously it has replacement strings and an interesting replacement bridge, (it looks like a 3 leg Grover Ebony top bridge that has been cut right down so the legs are now almost non existent) apart from that it all looks original.

When it arrived I had to tighten the vellum quite a bit, (possibly loosened for transport?) but once I had done this and reset everything I was rewarded with a very nice sounding Banjolele with a lot more sustain than some of the others I have. The bridge gives it a good low action, the intonation is good, there is no sharp fret issues and it is a pleasure to play. It's also VERY LOUD!!

The new Gretsch Clarophone certainly have something to live up to, to compete with this.