Iucci Baby Grand  #5
Iucci, Michael, New York, NY, c1910-1930


arrival 11-12



Iucci also made a portable tone ring that could be installed in any banjo


The wooden rim is a neat little thing, hidden in all that Brass.

It has minor delaminations, I will seal them

Bottom and top sides both have some loose areas

The top section and bottom is both tone ring and Decorative tension hoop.
Hooksets are extremely short and they fasten in a very unique manner.
All well thought out, Mike was a genius as a Luthier.

Iucci Story:
I spoke with Carl Lunsford the other day and he was telling me about him and Harry Reser going to NY to see Mike Iucci and to buy a banjo.
Carl got Harry to play it to Mike ,and it brought tears to his eyes
Carl still has the Iucci Banjo.
Carl also was the last banjoist to play on stage with my Great Uncle Victor Mondello in Revere Beach.
Vic closed with Robt.E.Lee, walked back stage and collapsed with heart failure.
What a way to go....perfect for a Banjoman like Vic.
He also played at his funeral.
Carl played many years with The Turk Murphy Band.

After cleaning with fine compound

This engraver had a sense of humor
All 4, are different patterns but all from one banjo.
Good show, but I've caught him finally!

Now to defret and work out this lift in the neck

It is a multi-laminate center, very tight glue, then 5 laminates and a very thin fingerboard, which I will not attempt to remove.

Pulling wire

Barbless wire has zero retention, the can be pulled with fingernails
And mine is painted Vintage Amber! LOL

All out no problems

After sealing all laminates and smoothing, time for 1 coat finish, it needs to be very light

Curing the finish

Adding a few squares, all and all VG condition

Red veneer where a little is gone here and there
Piece work, just tedious and under magnifiers

Stripping the old finish (s)
More than one

Some is varnish, one seems to be Varithane

After 2 strips, still coming off heavy

Nice wood at the bottom

Sealed and taking on clear
Peghead has been stripped and sealed, all gravings filled with Laskins and clear started

Beautiful work, now visible again.

After prepping the board, Im dyeing all the wood between the fret block then will polish the MOP and blackwax the engravings

Removing all old finish from neck
Laminates will "pop"with color now.

This is no typical banjo to put on a skin, but it deserves a quality hide head and it shall have one.
I am up to the task, actually looking forward to a new method and Iucci does not disappoint.

I have a perfect 10-3/4 flesh hoop and a 14" hide from Stern Tannery in Chicago.

Now to decide where I want to crown it

A little less than half looks correct

That is where I need to be, to start the tuck

Very easy tuck, no hooks needed with this style, that's a first .
You must make sure to align the neck attachment holes now.
Then , it all has to be flipped and worked from the bottom side.

I have the head pulled well and its tight on the flesh ring


put a nut on a hook with a few threads, then work the J thru the tension hoop


I'm pushing it over to the recessed hole on the first one.


Going round the horn just barely getting them into the slots.


The trick with any head on this banjo is to feed in the hookset then push so that the hook stays in the hole as you tighten on each nut its the same and held up Gravity does lend a hand


After snugging it, trimming the excess
You can see I still have clearance for more adjustment

Ready to cure
That was alot easier than anticipated, going on the first time around with perfect crown.

All pieces under the lamps getting warm between coats, going as I'd hoped

Thios fingerboard has a specific set of rules I will have to adhere to.
It is not cost effective to try and remove all the inlay, level the board, deepen the cavities, reset the MOP and refret.
The danger of destroying the board is too great.
I have pulled the old wires, clean in and around the slots and will set wire, sealing them as I go.

The areas around the MOP and binding are sucking in cyano, so its doing its usual wonderful job of going where man cannot easily go.

Trimming as I go



Dressing the ends

A little off the sides and then it will be fine 1200 paper and fine wool

Then after machine buffing to high shine.
Camera does in no justice.


I will ask Karl if he wants to leave this inside original , faded and stained or should I go get a matching color in spray and recolor.

Tuners and buttons cleaned and polished

Another snug on the new skin.
Remember, push on the nut while tightening, to hold it in the hole


Strings from www.bedfordbanjoshop.com
Owner Mike Amato, a New Yorker and Iucci lover

Skin head is smoothed and burnished, now to let it start settling in under tension