John's Bacon Belmont #955

Workpage 6-16

Repair as needed to play
Make into openback (remove reso and hardware)
Refinish rim
Dress frets
Clean all hardware

Neck canted due to enlarged hole in rim, I will rebuild that hole

Fret ends are standing out from fingerboard/celluloid shrinkage.
Neck wood is also lipped out and it all needs dressing, profiling, neck finish.

Easy to see how much the board has shrunk.
Laminate neck with no bar truss, slightly soft in middle.
Dowel is tight.


I have block sanded to take that bulk off the neck at the heel side and on up it needed less.
Adding side markers
This was not original binding or frets

That hole is auger'ed out pretty good, no QC in the last days of Gretsch banjos

This is not rosewood, it is maple that has lathe burning and it looks like grain with a coat of reddish brown, and someone did a Poly finish over that.
Also it could be a Belmont that had its back and sidewall celluloid's stripped off and recoated.

Scarf joint is thick, never turned to round, lets drop that step!

You can see the marking, I will leave it and make it look like Rosewood again

Dressing the ends

After sealing with #10, leveling, file shows cupped fingerboard, common for these, they were put together with partially cured woods.

Oiling and end dressing again

After steel wool, it will get a machine buff next

Neck finish was thin and chipped out so off it comes

Peghead has quite a taper.

I had Silver Bell colors mixed and shot the pieces.
if JB does not approve I will re-shoot it, stopping here for now.


The neck notch is so augered out it will take many shims to make it tight.
The heel cut is offset, just not good at all.

I did refinish the back because it no longer matched and was worn out., even tho it will be played openback
To remove the hardware is 2 screws to take it from the post and the one back screw.

The original hooks are a wasteof time and mony yo try and clean, there is no plating left, all steel.
I have replacement hooks, and will use the original nuts on them, not these.

The only tailpiece I had that was cheap and better than the orig is this Waverly copy, which is adjustable.
The head was a lightly used 5 Star, I had nothing new in non frosted opaque and my Remos were on Backorder.
So a freebie to help with costs.


As you can see, the neck is WAYYY off, this is due to the poor heel cut.
If it was playable at all, it was not good is my guess.

That is an 020 shim  on the right to try and force it over

Just look at how crooked the dowel set is on this example.
The only other way to fix it would be a total dowel reset and this banjo is not worth the time and effort.
I am concentrating on making it playable on a tight budget.
It needs to be left alone after I am though shimming it I have alot of time figuring out how to get it centered as well as a half way decent action.
It is just "normal" for late model Gretsch Bacon, all caring had left the building.

Now up to .040" and finally centered the board.
I will trim and glue them into place.

DR Strings U.S.A. made, furnished by

Replaced missing flange screws and tighened all the bad ones up

I want to get this to 5 3/2 if possible but with the neck angle on this banjo and already shimmed to max, maybe 6/32 is all I will get

More to follow