Bob's Ludwig Ace
Evaluation page




First Impressions
Neck is not warped forward, frets are ok


Severely warped Zinc flange
Zinc tension hoop.

Over .050" of shims in the neck already and neck angle adjuster is at max, so the instrument needs structural modifications from the inside if a better action and playability os to be obtained

Broken tailpiece, joint is cracked.....needs correct Ludwig replacement Waverly, or major modifications to something modern.
I do not attempt repair on these nor recommend a modern replacement
This will not be easy to obtain, and will probably run 100,00 easily on its own.


Obtained the factory replacment tailpiece - 80.00

Under tension neck had the normal relief for a Ludwig tenor, they always hae some uplift, there is no truss rod in these necks and center laminates are all they had and over time they lift
I have seen much worse than this and I'll do the best I can to get more neck angle in the adjuster

Non repairable

Pulling the shims to add an 060 (max) larger shim to abut the cams, to give more neck angle

Cams released

New shim in place

Frets are original, have been leveled in the past and the banjo would benefit from modern fret wire.

Compression fretting may even help stiffen the neck a bit, no promises.
Taller frets will make it easier to play.

That is where we are right now


This fingerboard is actually only a veneer, it is thin, old and brittle and must be taped in this manner to ensure no chips fly off when I pull the old wire

I leave room for the new wire to go in and not get tape trapped
This also alows me to seal that edge with thin cyano before refret.
The cleaner you can leave that edge, the more professional the fretwork.
These slots are thinner than modern wire but in compression fretting, I will use that to pressure up on the neck in the Martin Guitar bar fret method.
They also have no truss

Using 147 Stew Mac banjo wire, comfortable

The slots are very tight, we will see how it goes


At 12 I had a problem the compression pushed one of the fretblocks up and I'll pull that wire, then seal all that down.
You can see just how thin the fingerboard actually is.

While Im at it Ill fill a few divots as well as the 100s of cracks, hairlines, all in the board.
I can do that now that I have fretwire in and sealed in these areas

Cutting the new slot wider with special tool

It will shave out the glue and slot edges to make it have a fit for the modern wire and I will do this now from here to 19, they have no bearing on neck pull down that far onto the heel

After filling divots a nd scraping flat, Im wooling the wood back to satin

Oil to revitalize the venner

The upper is now all in order, I'll move on down.

Ready to string up, but first a look inside

I'll snug the neck hardware its a bit loose.
These things fall under normal maintanance, you need to inspect a banjo once a year for loosening hardware
Even though flange is warped its still not cracking, thats great

Ironically, I can tell by the makers mark          that this is the same foundry that made Gibson flanges, also well known for the same maladies

Except with Gibson a 1930s warped flange is worth 900.00, and a new one costs 85.00
What some people will do to look original...

The burn marks tell me it had Elton lights in it at some time, they burned up many a banjo I'm certain.

And the "Tone Cone" has been tried by others in several guises and is still offered in some designs today
With the light mass of a Ludwig rim, it needs all the help it can get.

Action adjusted, now it is lower even on a higher bridge.
Nut slots adjusted for the new frets
GHS strings
Old bridge in case pocket

Ready to close the case on this one
I think its a better instrument than before
Thanks for watching, Vinnie


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