"The Frank P. Morgan"
Nice well played example from the transitional era of Bacon Banjos.
After the Noreaster in "39" took out the Groton CT factory and the company sold to Gretsch, they made Bacon Banjos into the 1960s.
The first ones were made from some old parts, some new parts as they were able to salvage much of the metalwork after the storm.
Shown behind it is some fresh SilverBell plating just back in from ACME plating.
This will be headed out as soon as it gets apart.
The neck is not Ebony as the Early Bacon, it is dyed Maple.
That is not a bad thing, the maple necks make good tone
All this wood will be darkened to appear more Ebony since the color is faded out
The Lion seems to have been awoken!
My grandson Silas is my newest helper and he gets after it like his Grandpa, no messing around.
And just like me, he is partial to Planer Tuners :)
The mute spoon is handmade and the mute itself is as well
works fine and really neat.
The celluloid is later stuff and the paint work is thin tinted varnish, with a few stones missing
I will address all of these things as I go forth
The Gretsch work is no way at a par with the Bacon work but all these things can be upgraded and messed with to look just fine
They were not really putting the effort into the banjo line and it shows
Once that finish is gone you can see the stipling and detail of the Lion better
The edge of the resonator hangs over the flange because they did not run a final binding around the periphery
I think it needs one
Crude heel cut needs working down to fit rim better
Plenty of neck angle tho, that's a plus.
No ser# on dowel, that doesn't surprise me.
25000 series Rim with some nickel hardware and no backplate on the yoke, I'll furnish one.
All inside hardware will be gold, all inside rim and resonator will be metallic gold
Neat little mute is fully functional, this fellow knew his metals
Very little relief in the neck, Im hoping to lay it back a little with compression frets
Its a super thin profile neck, the bridge on it needs custom narrowed slots
Standard bridges will never feel good on this instrument
Oettinger fingers all working correctly
Getting ready for plater
Now this will set aside until I can get it into queue for finish work
Stripping the old finish off of the Burled Maple
I will come on out over the edge of the binding, this neck is slim to start with and it needs more fret surface
Since the fingerboard cannot be leveled without removing all celluloid, I will merely plane down all of the high spots on the binding and fret slots with my fret leveling file, it will take off only the areas I need for fretting
The rest of the "Level" will be made up in the wire
Fret tang is cut back for fitting in the slot and over the binding
Sealing as I go. the slots are drinking it in, they will be nice and tight now
Ready to trim
This pic is to show how at the Factory, they did a poor job leveling the board with the binding and it is slightly curved so biding is low at the sides and with frets pressed flat, their is a gap.
So to overcome this you glue down the fret then tap down the ends and it bends them slightly into the binding.
Then when I level it the issues will resolve itself
Dressing you can see I gained only a little width because they had shaved the binding at an acute angle but its much better sealed than before.
0000 fine wool to finish out
The leveled really nicely without much removal, I feel it will play out VG.
All ends nice and smooth now
Revitalizing the ebony
On the neck, I will stick with this color, I have already matched the resonator to it.
This is not an ebony banjo and I do not want it to be painted black.
Im taking off the painting where they missed the mark with the tapeoff and will dress up this original finish
Old paint off dowel, this and rim will get bright gold
I sealed the celluloid's around the peghead and refinished rim inside and out.
These parts will take on clear while I attack the rest of the neck finish.
Should be good to go by the arrival of plating from ACME PLATING
Adding some definition to the edges that were painted over at the factory
I want to see the white on top and bottom
Also around the tongue of the backstrap, to end up with a better profiled look.
It cannot be made perfect because the overlay is set lower than the wood so we do what we can.
Here is the new look next to old look
Resetting stones, first the ones that came in the bag
Now to pick some for the missing ones
Hand polishing all celluloid's
There is no old (or new) finish added over these thank goodness, so they are still nice and bright
Now I will buff the neck's "Playing area" and move to the resonator final out
Rim is complete and all will be ready when plating returns from ACME PLATING
Triple Waxing with Renaissance after Machine Buff
Plating looks excellent, another fine job from ACME PLATING
Remo Renaissance medium crown head courtesy of Bedford Banjo Shop
Mute function set
Strings courtesy of
Bedford Banjo Shop
Neck angle is off side to side, strings want
to ride to treble side
Stock bridge has too wide a spacing for the narrower neck.
I will disassemble and re-align neck using shim wood on the treble side of the heel to move the neck back into centric/
Then respace the bridge.
Tuners are a little stiff from plating, I did shoot a little oil into the post and try to wick some in.
I will final buff the back now, before reinstalling it
It is playing well up and down the board, no buzzes
Action is nice and playable, I think maybe some experimentation with bridges would give a number of different tones (It always does).
I will get it down to Ranger Bob for his assessments,
I hope it brings years of pleasure to him
Thanks for Watching,