B&D NPU Plectrum

History on this instrument

Original owner was Jack Taylor from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.    He never got schooling after the eighth grade and earned his living playing banjo, giving banjo, guitar and dancing lessons.  He dressed in a white coat and performed with a chorus line on stage.  He also made his own guitars.   Since he did most of what he did himself, I think that accounts for the gold paint inside the resonator, the frets, the finish on the neck, and the bolt through where the peghead is broke

Initial pics



27" scale


This Mute is interesting to me
Well built and all of it looks period to the banjo in some places and not in others, but nothing like I have seen before

Nice roller ball built into a nib.


Lag end bolt stuck in dowel, Ill pull that and redo it

Waverly E2 hoop, original

Black/White/Black bindings

Nice dark Ebony neck

The Planets all have matching hex nuts with paper washers, not spanners
Also all patina matches on these as well and have been with these tuners since the getgo..

The screw repair here is also interesting .
The hardware used to do it, is also things that were used by Bacon in that era, the screws and washers and nut all match typical hardware of the Era

Someone went too far long ago, and sanded thru the overlay backstrap

I will possibly use new tuners with these buttons if these old planets do not loosen up with some oil added, they are pretty stiff.

I think I can find a spot in this celluloid to do 2 small round dots to fill in the screw hole on the front and back, we will see.

That's' a factory pencil marking
#1 gold is also an indicator why it has #1 non engraved metal, in my opinion

Lets peel this and look under the overcoated dowel

Now we are getting somewhere, this is all correct under the added brushed on gold paint...

Matches the rim number, no "Floor Sweep" is this

And there you have it
Most likely made to order and to me why it has no number designation.

Ready to send it to Nashville Plating Service for a nice fresh coat of gold.

Removing the old Varnish by scraping, no chem strip for this one
Its not a pretty sight to see Chem Strip eat up old celluloid's

Its easy to tell when you are at the bottom.
It goes from yellowed, to clear, to black

Sapwood in the Ebony always appears  light when you see it bare, this was dyed from the factory to look all black, we still do this today

That is shown with the varnish all off the backstrapping.
I will have to get very creative there, with so little of it left from whoever finished it the time before
Now to scrape all I can on the peghead to remove the varnish over it and get back to the celluloid's, for repainting the detail

You have to know when it becomes celluloid and no longer Varnish
Now to remove the old colors

Cleaning out the lines
All the checking caused by improper finish on the Peghead reverse and heel cap can not be reversed and will always be a part of the Patina
You either have to live with this or have new celluloid's created and that just modernizes it, taking more away from the originality.

Fret removal went OK, they came out with my fingernails

Very large Guitar fret wire was used and it is slotted way beyond the typical slot size of banjo fret wire
The new wire will have to be glued into the slots for retention or the slots rebuilt and recut, not a cost effective process.
I will seal them in a normal method for this celluloid fingerboard.

I want to note that all of the BD ebony necks I have worked on are 3 or 4 piece, not solid
The lines of juncture are clearly visible on this one with finish off and a sealer, you can see the horizontal lines
So its not Solid Ebony, it's "All ebony"
Not sure how one could really work glue back into these joints without a splitting of the 3/4 pieces
Sometimes they have a heel that is also glued and this one looks like i can see a line on the heel too.

That's the other side, easy to see.


After many hours of thought, I have decided that glue alone will not save the Black Humpty Dumpty like fractures without a rebar that spans across it
Since this overlay is pretty bad anyway, Ill peel it off and go from here.
These are never fun times but someone has to suck it up and go for broke, that's me,

Off it comes
It's already in 2 pieces with nothing to save on the backstrap


I watered down some titebond and worked it all into all the cracks, now a 48 hour cure before I get to channeling for a crossbar

As with Many BDs, this is one that has a factory solid steel bar in the neck
I have routed down to get ready for the additional support, and I can see the maple overlay and at the end of the cut (Towards heel) that is the first part of the solid bar
The wider hole is the one from the screw going thru the peghead, I will go a little past that the other way and lay the rebar

the 1/16 Brass tube can be bent to conform the the contour and I can bed it in with acrylic and ebony veneer

Bedded in and adding the strip wood, one more lamination to go

Making a little ebony dust to complete the fill

I feel better having something spanning that break, the celluloid will ad back a little more stiffness as well

Im melting some celluloid in acetone, to fill the topside of the hole in the peghead

As it softens, I feed globs of it into the hole and hopefully I can let this cure, smooth it down and recolor that area to match the yellowing, that all goes away when you do a meltdown, it turns back into a neutral color s you can see but still iridescent.

Scraping off the overspray from the Varnish to get back to the celluloid
It is not as intrusive on the front as the back was.
Also I am beginning to tint the celluloid plug I made, to get it to a close color match

Im pretty good on my celluloid plug here, it will not be so visible when the peghead has nice bright detail painting again

Loose Celluloid fret blocks

You can see how they are all humped up, this is what happens when celluloid shrinks and the glue loses its grip.
They will need to be pulled one at a time and then heated and pressed flat before reinstallation
It is a long process with little room for failure

Some just fall off.
All that was holding them down really, was the fret wire compressing on each lip

I have to remove everything down to the white binding and Ill start with the horizontal black

No effort at  all lifts them

The glue used was like a rubber cement or contact cement, or even a Duco like cement... it has a smell Im no used to

The backs will be cleaned before I press them all

The blue marker dots, I will have to look for something to use to match that, they do not have this color in regular side markers and I will lose them when I pull the horizontal black binding

ready to clean the glue from the binding channels and fret slots

Getting the glue off the topside
Markers are taped down in order

Cleaning the slots, they really glued these frets in after ruining the original slots for that god awful guitar wire.

Channels cleaned and board clean and ready to accept fret blocks and new bindings

Plating sent to Ron Satterfield at Nashville Plating Service

Outside rim finish completed, I'll add 2 coats metallic gold to the inside and then build up the rim.
The plating has arrived from Ron at NPS and it looks fitting for a Ne Plu Ultra


Cleaning the backsides of the celluloid blocks

Lining up for the end block
You have to make sure that you get them perfectly straight both side to side and up and down, right over the fret slot and since someone cut these wide for guitar frets, it is even more challenging to center them over the slot

I will use a fret wire for a guide, to ensue I an spacing properly and  staying on target on each block
I have heated and flattened them for a week so that there is no concavities or convexities in them

Moving along, checking everything 3 times on each block

All are back on the board and I have exactly zero area left over at the nut, I called that as close a placement as I could have gotten so Im pleased with that procedure coming to a happy close.

After a 1200 grit wetsanding to clean off any debris, I have machine buff the board to a high shine and it is ready for side bindings
What's that peeking out on the left?

A taste of the Yukon???


All pieces present and accounted for

Setup on translucent white head
The other tailpiece is Robs Tension Lock, also back in this batch.

MORE NECKWORK - Binding - Frets

The binding pieces arrived and now I can create from pieces and sizes and colors to ape what was originally a 5 piece binding that was already laminated into one piece .
They do not make this binding any longer so you have to build it up and its not that easy to do on an old vintage 30's  neck with small binding channels, shrunken Pyralin fingerboard blocks ..etc so all  you do has to be as best as you can do, then hide the rest in the finish! LOL

After measuring the channel, I decided that a .040" black and an .060" White on the outside ran horizontal  would top off the existing black white left over from the original and still in good shape coupled with an .020 black ran vertical inside of the white to give it it the 2 colors that are supposed to show from the top.
That order arrived and now its time to see what becomes of it

First the 040 is laid and it looks wide because this is the only width I could get, 70 % is overburden

The vertical 020 is laid against the fingerboard on top of the 040 in this pic...forming a 90 deg. channel for the white

The white laid op top and again, most is overburden
That's the original look now

removing all of the overburden

Smoothing to profile, fingerboard is fully protected from scratching, the rest will come off with a razor knife

That's one side complete, now you can see the reason for the vertical 020


With the condition of these slots, a full encapsulation of each fret tang will be the procedure, I am filling with StewMac #20 nearly to the top and have backcut the wire to slip inside of the bindings, to make for the widest playing surface possible

All going along nicely

Ends all trimmed up and ready to level

Back overlay reattached, now I can work on a battle plan for the backstrap

Removing the Remnants of the thin shading on the periphery with 1200 grit wet

All machine buffed and ready to repaint the detail in the center.
I prefer it without the  outside shading but will see what the boss says


1/8" brass tube, filled with red epoxy and sawn into markers

This gives a nice contrast since neither White nor Black, would have been easily seen.
The originals were red as well.

Now for a little more clear and I will also work on the detail paintings

  Choice or color "Mars black".perfect for Herr Doktor!
I have already filled in the graved lines with gold metallic

I am coming up with a design down at the base where the big screw hole was, to make the mind not fixate on it
I will scrape any paint overruns before adding the protective clear upon it

Heel done

I'll let that dry then the big plan of attack on the missing celluloid at the backstrap and how I am going to FAKE this I mean.....FAUX this area

I have added in a piece of ebony veneer to regain the height lost with the loss of the degraded celluloid tail and now all of this will be hidden with the acrylics
I'll mix colors until I find one that is pleasing and will flow well into the original celluloid.

Base coat of Ochre

Outside line roughed in

Adding some "Translucent Pearl" over the color coat

Adding protective clear (its cloudy but dries clear) over the new Mars black.
I will work ahead to the clear coat after protective shellac.
The celluloid was already so compromised I have to save what is left in "a manner" and this is what I have come up with.
When you try and save what there is that was original, this is "a method" , I'm sure there are many yet to try.

The Ebony has been reblackened in the sap wood areas with Fiebig's
A coat of shellac to seal it all up and now I will move to the frontside for a while

Gold  rubbed into the graving lines

Mars black applied

There is alot of wear with no lines left in some areas so, I will have to just paint in the detail

Ready for clear over the new paint

Now its time for more clear coats on the wood

A couple more coats before I do a wetsanding and machine buffing

You can see in this close up where I got the screw hole up to a color that when looked at with the naked eye is not eyecatching and when the tuners and strings are on it will be even less
Personally I think that wasn't a bad fix.

Same as the painted acrylic backstrap.
One must constantly remember this was a broken neck with alot of issues!


After rubbing the gold leaf into the gravings, going on with the first Mars black

While that dries I'm doing the fret leveling
Dr J likes a low fret wire so traditionally I have to reduce the new wires height by 1/2 to make it in his comfort zone.
This makes for a smoother gliss, the downside being a wire with half the longevity.
He is used to me complaining, nothing new!


Everything going back together OK, mute is actualting properly
For a hand made mute, its not bad at all.

Resonator is done as far as acrylic and clear protectant over the black.
I'll let that cure on the banjo then pull it off to spray that cheap looking factory fade on the edge.
It's the one thing that I  do not care for on transitional model Bacons but it does make it look more original for that era.
I have to agree to disagree when it ain't my banjo! :):)
Setup on Farquahar 1/2" I will let it all setlle in and tweak on the setup a few days before I take off the resonatior to do that lacquer tint.

The tone is nice and clear, not tubby at all, a very bright Silver Bell in my opinion, for a flathead especially.
The stiff dense neck can really be felt in that realm.
Its playing  very well up and down the neck which is very encouraging after the Hell it has been through to get it back up and going.
No buzzes, time for smem nut and bridge slot adjusting and head tension check

I like the rim with no snowflakes, its a more spartan look but classy as all get out.

See how good it looks without the fade, you all can decide and tell me what you think afterwards

OK, let's mess around with it and see what all I can get done before it goes for a test run out in Tucson at the up and coming AZ Banjo Blast.


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