Bruce O'Neil's
Paramount Leader


It's not unusual for this type of thing to fall from a New Orleans Banjo.

Ok, it's supper, like I have time for a real meal!
Banjo is really tired, with alot of moisture damage and rust on the hooksets


Resonator is heavy in delaminations, and will take some piecing back together

Rim is OK with the exception of the bottom trim all coming off
Rust on all the washers
What do you expect, it came from below sea level :)



Someone was smart enough to take all the broken Page tuners, whose housings are prone to disintegration, and made sheet metal housings for all the old gear sets.
Everyone works just as it should!
That is ingenuity, my hats off to whoever did it (Even if its you Brucie!)

No two are alike, but all did the job

Ill go back with something modern, but that was a neat treat to see.
Necessity is the Mother of all Invention.



Board is rutted, but fairly straight
Old frets are out, one big chip at the end of the board, some missing binding, etc.

I made some new with basswood stock, trimmed to profile

Dyeing to match

New dot

Now for the chip

That's a piece of Rosewood in my hand, Ill make one from it

Ready to fret after I deal with the divots in the first positions.

The dowel was already loose, and it made it easy to remove so that it can have its angle reset before glue-up

All the inlay is getting sealed back down, the filler has receded and the thin #10 will wick in , around and under it all

Hammered in over the heel, I have taken it all the way to oil, to show the difference of the old and new

Now for the divots and the 6 fret slots that need rebuilding

Im using teflon dams that are made for such, and the thickness is the same as standard fret slots
 This allows glue to go in and reform the slot, and the no stick teflon pulls easily out

Sanding out the bottom of the divots with my thin sanding sticks
The dams will stay in so they hold back the big flow of #20 medium cyano

I'll cure this and level it, then look for small areas

A little left on the side and that's it
Now I will continue fretting

All wires in and leveled, now to recrown them

Filling the old tuner screw holes with doweling

Ready to repair laminates and refinish the rim

4 coats, ready for assembly

removing old finish  and scraping the purfling to bright white
I've sealed the back down, and am working on the sidewall

A coat of sealer shows how it will look
Now to finish sidewall repair while neck takes on finish

After gluing the dowel, I wanted to pull it to one side to cure it so I used my smallest drill bit for weight.
I used to drill oil wells, this is a Baby.

After completing the sealing of the resonator sidewall to the backplate, I had alot of missing laminates.
I chose to completely hide the one white line that was ruined by dyeing it dark, leaving one clean line all the way round.
I would rather see "Even"  and "Uniform"

After sealing the inside and a fresh coat of finish, back on the outside I'll do 5 coats

Over time, the celluloid shrunk showing the joint.

Everything up to three coats, 2 to go and Ill begin assembly

I'd like to bring up why the neck is a different color.
This is "Spalted" Rosewood
It's spalting can be seen thruout the grain, little dark splotches.

I've seen it in Maple many times, but this is the first in Rosewood
Spalted wood is simply wood that has begun the process of decaying

After cleaning the gravings and adding new jewelers wax and finish, the overlay is looking good now.

Soldering the joint on the tailpiece, it was about to fall off.
Its feeling more solid so  I will build it a bit more.

All parts buffed and polished, waiting on my new head from Bedford Banjo Shop
Talk to Mike about any of your Banjo Parts needs.

Rim assembled with Renaissance head

Thanks Mike

Refilling what graving lines are left with blacking wax

Assembled and waiting on tuners, resonator is still taking finish

Grover 2 tab geared tuners were my choice because they work well and they help conceal all the old  repaired holes

I had a set of the missing  neck attaching hardware, pin and screw/nut so its all proper Paramount on the inside now.

I have worked the nut slots and am using my setup bridges to test tone  and set action before I use one of Bruce's Farquhar's on it

I liked the no insert model the best, it helps warm up the overly bright  Paramount tone.
They are well suited for single string, which makes for a softer setup when you want warmer tones from them
I'll add one more coat to the resonator an that will be installed
Banjo is playing well with a really nice tone on the Renaissance, with a good action so I think it will dial in OK from here.
It is enjoying making music again, I can tell.

Banjo is settling in to be one of the better sounding Para's that has come thru in a while
The Rosewood helps to mellow them out but its still got all of the Pop and Brightness needed if you want it.

It will be a good workhorse for Bruce, and it will look good in the process.
You never know how things will turn out on these vintage instruments and sometimes its the old beat up warhorses that come fighting back .
Now off to Eureka Springs it will go where I will meet up with Bruce and the gang for a weekend of Banjo fun
Thanks for watching