c.1930 Gretsch "Jack Pumpkinhead" Banjo Ukulele

Halloween comes early this year! Here's my wheelbarrow-full of banjo-uke fever! I wish I had taken "before" photos of this banjolele, because when I found this poor old Gretsch-made (unmarked, but typical style for a Clarophone or Gretsch of the time) uke, it was totally filthy in the "beyond hope" kind of way. Nevertheless, it's made a full recovery, and now sports a Halloween-themed paint job and new skin head.

This is a maple banjo-uke throughout and has a nice wide-profile neck that's very reassuring and comfortable to play.

My painted-orange headstock with "antiqued" finish. Looks the part...

This uke's head was torn and water-damaged and moldy... hence a new "vintage" head. I've been storing this one since last Halloween, when Bonnie printed some of her card images on a couple of spare heads of mine. It just happened to be the perfect size to fit this banjo-uke! The skin is cut down from a torn old 5-string head, but is nice and thick and durable, just what you need for good tone on a banjolele: thicker heads bring out a sweeter, plucky tone.

Maple on-the-neck "board" with MOP dots. Nickel-silver, polished-up frets.

Note the missing hook & shoe: there are two missing pairs in this set (8 here, 10 originally), and due to the large bolt size for these I figured I wouldn't find something nice to match. What to do? Obviously, I used a couple of nicely-fitting round-hole bolts, and made myself some decent strap buttons! (They work nicely, too, especially if you use a mandolin strap and play it f-style bluegrass fashion!)



Other side.

Hardware cleaned up way better than I thought it would. It was soooo grungy.



New Grover pegs work just dandy.

Interesting bit here: the "tailpiece" string stopper is also part of the tension hoop. I actually really like this. It simplifies things quite a bit and removes a bulky tailpiece.

Here you can see the orange of the headstock and the maple pop out.

Headstock again. New nylgut strings, which are all I'm going to use from now on for banjo-ukes. The drier, pluckier, sweeter tone is far superior to any other type strings on a skin head. Tones down the "ringiness" inherent in small rims.