Stromberg Marimba
No serial number
Early 1920's

Incomplete Project banjo
Purchased 12/17/02

11" Rim, Cuppophone tone ring, 19 fret neck,
Dowel hardware

I had in my stock:
 Stromberg Original shoe set, minus 1
 Original armrest
Original tailpiece
Original tailpiece lag bolt
Period Gold plated "Planet" tuners
26 good plated hooksets

This is a very early Marimba

Inlay work is crude, and more filler is present than normally seen.
Both bindings are long gone.

Inlays are not centered well ,and have some damage.

Dowel designates Marimba, with proper stamping
Neck hardware is correct on both ends
Dowel stick has been cut out ,s has the rim hole, to make for an "adjustable action" it seems

Tone ring was bent up in the front a tad, to accommodate dowel for proper neck set.
Heel cap is the "thicker" style
This Marimba is "Pre archtop" as it has no sign of ever being arched.

Cuppophone tone ring in good shape
Rim is severely delaminated and must be sealed.


I chose not to waste the time taking the standard "fretting", inlay repairs", "binding installation" etc. pics to save time.
I am restarting here after the neck was stripped, water base stained, sealed ,clear coated, Friction tuners replaced with vintage gold plated "PLANET"  tuners installed, with faux MOP buttons.

Also, the large hardware pieces have been buffed which was quite a task, but since the nickel was so thick it came out really very good considering.
You can see the dowel stick cut here.

Dowel stick was repaired at the end where lag had broken through from being too tight.
I added new wood in.

Fade to dark on both ends of the neck.
I chose to do this banjo darker than usual.

Repaired broken inlay at the 7th fret.
Piece was missing from side.
I went through lots of pink abalone to find a piece that matched!
Also, you will see that the binding looks old with the little "splits" around the fret wire ends.
This was made to look that way for I wanted to work on my "making it look old, but be new" approach.
Those cuts are filled with clear cyano and smooth as the binding.

Rim after sealing delaminations, staining, and clear lacquer

Rim shell and skirt back on

Tone ring re- installed

Lets build it on up

Neck hardware attached

Rim shoes polished, and installed

I am waiting on a new grooved 11" hoop so I will use a thin stretcher band that I have, to complete the setup.


I will mount a skinhead on it, so you can see it take place.

I signed and dated the head, also putting a descrition of the banjo on it.

 The thing I like best about the pre 1925 Strombergs, is that there is about a 70 percent chance that my Granpa held them when they were brand new.
He tested almost all the banjos in the early days at Stromberg and played them thruout his career.

Cool huh?

Just happened to have a spare original Stromberg Marimba stamped armrest, and tailpiece.
Rich-Tone Tenor Medium strings
Grover 2 foot 1/2" non inserted bridge, to start with.
Good action, with neck well centered.
It will be a good player, I can already tell.
Added a vintage "Grover" pickholder.
I am trying to stay with parts before 1925, to be correct as possible.

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