1920's Epiphone B
Banjo was purchased in this state of partial repair.
Has been replated in the past and that plating is now worn as
Many Epi's came with Oettinger tailpiece and this is an early
"pat pend" version
Neck has some back bow in it and when under some tension
pulls flat so it will not need a truss or anything such as that.
Frets were redone as well, and a decent job, I will go thru them
and make sure its all OK after i heat press this back bow.
Resonator was already stripped and a repair started on a bad
The repair veneer was furnished by the repairman , nice cut to
I will glue it in and then go thru a tint process to shade it
slowly and get a close match.
Rim is VG except for one veneer bubble on the inside, I will pop
it and glue in back flat, refinish the rim.
Old thick original varnish on these hide all the true beauty of
If they are not and all original museum quality, they get
refinished here at the Haven..
Tone system all intact, looks like it will be normal inside
No heel cracks all orig hardware except one hook set
Working on resonator first
Blocked flat and ready to begin tinting
This is dye and acetone and will come and go as I fade, add
clear, add color, scuff... etc.
It is a "process".
A little clear to see what actual color will be, and then more
scuff and tint
Taking all the old varnish from the marquetry, also something
that needs to be seen again.
Patch is getting closer, there is some air brush over spray now,
that will be blocked off.
Cleaning the sides.
Clean and brown dye for top lip
Fresh clear coat over it all
Out side taking clear with other projects
getting harder to see repair now, there is still dye and acetone
applications between clear coats.
I sandwich the colors together so the eye gets faked out as best
Hard to see at this distance
Close up still shows it
A couple more daubs and that will be fine for a standard
Then clear coats one out.
Lacquer is Mohawk Classic Instrument Lacquer
heel is all proper, no mods.
Shim at the bottom is to reduce action, another good thing.
This means it can take plenty of bridge or standard 1/2"
My fave tone system for Epi.
I prefer the precision cast base over the individual stanchions.
They were never perfect on early models and sometimes you see
this, there is a thin maple shim in the gap to make the rim
On early production banjos there is always some that are within
specs that need this or that.
All makes, all models, they are not perfect.
There is the blister I am about to pop and make well again
Glue release and laminate shrinkage, sometimes after 70+ yrs you
get a pimple :)
Will remove old varnish first
The rest will remove with acetone
The one dot left is where the glue needle was inserted, I will
finish that off with a little rosewood dust and be done inside.
Now for the bottom and outside lathed area that is also
full of old varnish
This needs to all come out and start afresh
Lag holes will be doweled and drilled so as to be tight
Tuners will be cleaned and lubed
I will use a little blue dye to accent the one faded area on
The neck finish will be next.
I have exact repro stickers for these .
It is either that, or scrape right to the edges and leave the
original with worn look
I usually do not unless the banjo like I say, is worthy of
keeping 100 percent original and this is a players instrument,
not a time capsule.
All the peghead will be stripped, dyed, refinished
nut will be cut to GDAE string gauges
I will be heating the back bow next, it can be seen here.
Under tension this pulls up flat but a little too flat, so I
need just a hair of spring back to give a tad of relief.
It is a super slick low action and will be great for another 100
yrs or so.
Trust me, id rather work a back bow than forward pull any day of
The previous repair man did a good job fretting and left the
small divots that will be not a factor in playing properly.
Pulling all inlay and frets to level is not really cost
effective but can be done
graved lines are still present and inlay will be blacked in,
frets will be dressed and polished after the heat press
Starting the finish removal
Binding is good, replaced on last fret job.
Re-dye of pear wood
Time to chem strip the carvings, acetone it all and start with
Fixing the detail on the
marquetry, blue first
New finish going on after sealing the wood
Adding the new Epi label will be next.
Glued down, ready to seal
and ready to outline periphery with a fine line of black to
hide the edge
Top edge dyed black.
Resonator wet sanded 400-2000#
2 more neck coats and then I can work on the setup
Noticed a high inlay, pulled to reset. all inlay will be
Laskin's jeweler's wax for the lines that are left.
Checking the tuners, adding a little lube.
These are not, and never will be smooth like a Planetary tuner.
They are sturdy but "clunky"
making some bushings to tighten the rim holes that are augered
Some Brass over aluminum is giving me the size I want
This will take the old slop out.
ready to string up
I will set up on the temp head, the cloudy REMO will soon arrive
This way I can work the setup, check the frets/action, etc.
REMO head 11" medium crown
Strings are GHS
Furnished by www.bedfordbanjoshop.com
The neck is very stiff
and straight so I will not mess around here
42-32-22 bronze wound 15 Steel
It could take this as normal setup, under tension neck is about
A 14 may be a little more comfortable but I want this neck to be
under a goodly amount of strain.
It will never be a problem as far as any forward warp coming into
Good down force and action on 9/16 to 5/8 bridges
Super powerful Bass and clear treble.
I will tweak on the setup more after the new head comes.
So far I am very pleased at its look and performance now.