Early 1890's 1900s basic instrument, probably mail order, possibly Lyon-Healy
Original price was probably around 10.00
Thin Single ply rim with spun over brass rim shell
Rim slightly out of centric but flat
Original flesh ring for head
All 24 shoe brackets and hooks, some are replacement nuts. fair condition.
Orig Tailpiece and hangar hardware
2 original tuning pegs
Orig lag end bolt
Thin rim, All brass hardware, all meant for
LOW TENSION-CALF HEAD-GUT OR NYLGUT STRINGS
Oak neck, one piece, cross grained, with bow warp and twist issues
Dowel was loose, no glue left
to hold it
A very good view of some of the
problems, its neck is all over the place.
What could be attempted.......would be a planing of the neck (it has no fingerboard) and trying to take out some of the warp and bow and see if it can be brought around to become a player.
Neck is very curvy in many places and directions
Bow Warp and twist as well as curvature
Someone tried to file the top frets to make it play but that was futile with the condition I see in the wood
You can see it , it is a cross-grained wood, with no truss or laminate to offset that from happening over time
One bent wire here, no big deal since it would have to be planed anyway, it would need new frets
Brass is special order, most wire is nickel silver content
After reducing the wire with my fret leveler, I will take them on down with my sanders
This will leave only a thin strip of wire in the fingerboard.
You can see the highs and lows and finger divots as I reduce
That's near full reduction.
No wood has been removed yet , only the varnish someone applied on the fingerboard
First coat of oil soaking in while I get ready to take a little off the top
That is where the warp was the worst, I think with a little more creative leveling it will be in the parameters of a playable flush fretter.
More oil applied, and more to follow
Its a nut oil, and it hardens and will be buffed to a warm satin, as it should be in these years
Now to see if Oil over orig finish is good enough or will there be a finish applied to the neck
It does have some curve in it, I think I can make it function OK though for a low tension banjo
Some of the shoe screws are were stuck, I applied heat and only one broke, Ill tap it out and replace with period screws and then polish the lugs
Rim assembly Tung oiled inside and waxed on the brass
Ready to mount a new calfskin head
Wetting the hide for installation
This is an 11-1/8" head, Ill use the original flesh ring
Planning for the crown height
You have to have mounted many skins to understand what type will pull fast or slow after it dries, and what type of head for what tone, etc.,
This is not an exact science so repetition makes all the difference.
I am using my own setup hooksets, the original brass are too weak and fragile to reuse so the banjo will get new hooksets after i take off my setups
After trimming, still very loose and damp
You can see I have left a large amount to stretch, and this is because of the nature of construction of this banjo
Many older 5 strings from this period leave little room for error and you have to know how far this hide will stretch and be at full tension when it is dry.
After some drying and pulling, you can see the tension hoop is near level with fingerboard as it should be and there is still clearance in the neck joint, I think this will be a good head for this banjo.
I will let it dry more and tweak it later
I'll go with early 1900s Friction tuners so as to stay in the era as well as give it a real ability to be tuned easier than wooden pegs,
Using brass collets on the front will save peghead from wear and help in the friction process
Also a friction fifth peg will fill out the tuners
Ill need to ream the 5th peg hole a bit and get that sealed in, and a Pip made for it and then a new bone nut, to replace the ebony one
It can settle in while I await the strings for it
I will make a bone nut and install the 5th sting pip screw now that the strings are here
Also, the setup hooks are off and new gold plated hooks installed.
There are no modern hooksets that are as short as these and all are now made of steel which is a good thing.
But they all have to be shortened a bit so I will cut them off.
I will be going with the LaBella Classical set, Nylons, with silk wound 4th string
This is a very LOW TENSION Banjo and the bridge is only lightly seated into the head.
I will mark the head where the bridge will always set so when it gets moved it can be recentered.
I will add glue to the feet if Ken wishes, to hold it in place all of the time
On this style tailpiece a brass bar is suported by the fingers and that piece was missing
This always needs to be inserted after a string change.
Side marker dots installed at 3,7,10,12
The banjo plays up and down the neck with a nice warm old timey sound, it is not dull but it is mellow as it should be
It is a banjo that can be played easily in the first position as it had been all the years Kens great Grandfather played it and is good up into the second position, thats about as high as frettless players play anyway unless they are very accomplished.
I deem it better than a wallhanger and in the right hands, it could surprise you.
I like trying to save what seems hopeless and when I strum a melody on this, it makes me smile knowing I have been the Steward of another banjo that many would write off as junk.
Now onward fror another 120 years!
Thanks for watching
MORE TO COME
Home Tenor Banjos Plectrum Banjos 5 string banjos 6 string and other Tenor Guitars Banjo ukes Banjolins Restorations