Continuing my obsession with deep walled resonatored banjos.


Designed around a 60's Gibson Mastertone  tube and plate rim that has been converted to allow implementation of a deep walled resonator.
I want a Vox style design that is also unlike Ome or Stull customs
This way, you have no rim penetrations for anchor shoes, and this idea came to me years ago and I am finally putting my tools where my mouth was!

I will use a prewar Gibson TB6 neck for this prototype, and a deepwalled resonator bound in the #6 style.


I will remove this much of the bottom of the rim, to obtain the air gap I wish for the banjo to have.
This will give me the 5/16 gap on the periphery with a concavity in the backplate to bounce the tone.

I'm not sure why the modern laminate rim is overlooked, it is as tight as it can be with no glue excess and no separations.

I have the new Maple resonator keyed for the heel and have added on its brass hardware and a VG vintage Rogers skinhead for this test run.
I'm leaning towards skin head setups if possible, it should really talk with the deep wall and the typical Gibson goodness along with it.

I just oil dyed the bottom of the rim for now after smoothing it.
I didn't have to cut into the existing sticker for my in my reduction of wood.
My fingernail is already dyed Gibson purple from the TB3 work in the pic above :)

That is the new profile

Air gap is correct, now to decide on a 5 string neck to work with if not the one I made for it.
The gap is the same as it is in regular Mastertone so it will not be too hollow of a tone and can still be a good Old Tyme/Bluegrasser

1930's Gibson TB6 Neck

First, let's put on a New new plate flange..........that's what happens when you catch one in your industrial buffer.
This is the first flange I have ever damaged and Paramount is thinner than this!
Im glad I owned it!
Pretty good whelp on my arm, showing me that with anyone it is usually only a matter of time, it took me 13 years to do it and on Fri 13th.....the irony.

OK New flange in place, all brass buffed, neck fitted

Just nutting it up for now to work the action, I can add rods anytime....or not.

Strung to pitch using a VTL-4 Goodrich tension lock. and Farquhar 1/2" inserted bridge
I like the tone on the vintage skin very much but I will raise the neck set since it is so flat with the plane of the head
I'll need to bind the resonator in the style 6 checkerboard and get some new finish on the neck, fret it, things like that, this is only a test run to get it dialed in first but this banjo will be sold with this neck, not as a five string.

I will see about re-doing it in the Argentine gray finish



I will get this all bound in the same style 6 bindings and get some finish on it
It has settled in and sounds GREAT, it is going to make a fine banjo and will be a looker as well.
It will be ready for engraving or just plating depending on what the customer will ask for.
It will also have the "head of choice" or can leave with this exceptional sounding vintage Leedy Hardwhite calfskin

Tension Lock here to find out more about them

How did we live without them???


First I have to remove the lags, these are too small for modern co-rods
And with these older Gibson's, the bottom lag is embedded, not screwed into the heel.
Many a lower lag gets snapped off when someone thinks "Its stuck, twist harder"
Not that I have found this out the hard way.............
So pop the heel cap off...

Grind out the filler stick

Pry the lag up and out

Unscrew the upper

There is the final look....moving on

bedded in new filler stick

All sealed and ready to relag
Frets pulled and fingerboard cut to 16" radius profile

Starting the old finish removal

I'll seal that for now and wait on my tints for this work


All the old purple was removed and a nice walnut to make it warmer, I want it to better match the new look

I had an old repro Mastertone sticker that was too rough to use on a new job, it fits this project perfectly. patina already built in to it!

Stamped in my Serial number 2012-VM-X6 for experimental  Style 6
I ordered a JLS 12 tone ring from Jan Stull..., the best in the business
It will come in the brass, and I will send it and all the metal to Ron Raymer for engraving

16" Radius fretjob

Pressing in wire with proper caul, sealing and gluing as I go

All  radius leveled...polished up and ready to try out

Mixing the tints for the Argentine Grey finish..., or at least my version of it!

Some closely colored maple for tests

Just about there, that's 3 colors of tint

Im trying to leave the peg head as is, to give it character and a blend that fits it nicely

A little at a time, alcohol based out of my gun
You mix thin and layer up

Adding the "gray" a strange mixture indeed...several more tints ....but I kinda sorta got it as close as I can with what I have.

All bindings cleaned up and adding clear coats

I will use the Stull JLS 12 flathead, unplated
In my opinion, a fine choice for anyone wishing as close to a real prewar ring as you can get.

New Rickard Tension Hoop drilled and tapped for armrest and Tension lock

Reassembly for neck installation / initial setup


Radiused nut complete

Radiused  Farquhar Bridge
Tension lock is working perfectly in this setup

I like what I am hearing, even without it's resonator and no break in time, that is promising
Playability is good, so are the radius frets, it plays very good and now I know what final tweaks I want, that I can do while the metalwork is at Ron Raymer's and then to Nashville for some gold plating

Binding by FQMS


Good job, Thanks to Allen!

Inside sprayed with black and clear

Ready for tint

Tinting is in aniline, in a solvent to disperse it evenly.
My choice of solvent is for my style of finishing and temps/ type finish.
The first is a light wash of amber, the rest for the Argentine Gray is a more complex mix of colors.

All the tints applied, now to seal it and that will bring out the colorants

Sealed and bindings cleared of overspray, ready for 1st clear coat

The fade is subtle and I am happy with the colors so onward with clear coats and wetsanding

Hard to get  shots in the sun without lens glare but you can see the colors fairly well here

Last Assembly before engraving and plating

I still need to decide what resonator mounts I want to use and add more finish, Ill do all that before things go to be worked on in other places

I think it is a decent representation of the original color scheme on a Style 6 Checkerboard
The sun plays tricks on the colors, I'll shoot the final completion's in the proper lighting so that the Argentine gray shows itself better.


Wall lugs and thumbscrews were chosen for the mounting

Back apart to head to Mr. Raymer

Adding the final finish while the parts are out of the shop.

Re-labeled the rim with my own sticker and lightened my serial number with some gold leaf.
That's hidden under the tone ring

Rim finish completed


Ron sent me a sketch to choose what I wanted which is the deluxe TB18 graving patterns with a little personalized embellishments
As usual he came up with something that fills the bill for me.



Goodrich BTL-4  Tension Lock looking spiffy !

Now I will get it back here for some special treatment.

ASSEMBLY - Next Trial Run

For now the parts will stay brass, and protected with Brass Instrument Lacquer
I have coated them with 3 coats and will allow then to turn to a warm patina .


Neck attached

Tension lock VTL-4    just looks " Right" on here doesn't it??
It really helps my style banjo setup make the tone I want.

The look Ron  Raymer gave the engravng also makes me happy, its just what I desired for this example.

I have a special occasion coming up on the 22nd of July, that will be its first real trial.
I better let it settle in for a few hours :)


Contemplating what is next in it's future
Plectrum and 5 string examples to follow

Sealed with clear finish

Next to the 5 string neck thats coming up next after the plectrum

The Argentine Gray is applied and the neck is taking on clear

Now to check the fit once more


Another set of Gold geared tuners and MOP's for this neck as well.


Setup with 30-20BW, 14-10 Steel, GHS
Farquhar 17/32 taga nut inserted bridge

Now for a 5 string neck and Ill be done!



Mastertone rim-Tube and Plate
Example of original design - 1927 Gibson Granada - Tom Gilmore