Work Page  2018
Epiphone Banjo Uke
8" head
Heavy brass flange and Maple Rim
Maple neck and Resonator
Repair and Refinish as needed

Epiphone banjo shop 1920s
Luthier is holding an identical uke to this model.
It could be one in the same, we will never know.

Skin head is almost as green as the case, and very fuzzy
I have a vintage hide in mind that would suit this build.

Finish is lightly tented black, which makes for a Gray outcome
I will do the same on the re-finish.
Resonator is hairline cracked in the maple veneer, all will be sealed.

I have these labels in reproduction and it will sport a new one .

Single lag neck
Bacon style hardware
Serial number is 11 or 2 if its Roman II, will look closer when its apart.


Neck has back bow from 4 to the nut, will heat and pull

Pear wood fingerboard has shrunk, celluloid binding shrunk, leaving all fret ends standing proud

I have the proper Epiphone vertical line ivoroid binding

Pulling in  the affected area thru the soon to be famous "Howard's Hole"
I will apply heat and leave it under tension while I finish out on the rim / resonator

Sealing the inside cracks, wicking in #10 CA
It will get a black inside finish

Outside, #10 CA, you can see it actually wicking into the cracks.
I will block sand it on the outside back to blond and do the dye job.

Styrofoam is re-purposed for the job, it will bend to the profile and is stiff enough to block sand.

All the cracks can be seen now, but are filled.
Onward to the rim for now

I will steel wool the hardware and refinish the wood

This style flange comes off like a piston ring on an engine
It is recessed and must be pulled out, around and off of the rim
It is brass, so flexible to a point

Lift out....

Work around....

Off it comes

Looks like "I's" to me

Rim stripped of finish but not color, just added the tint wash and clear
No finish goes under skirt
Yes, I will get that bit of tape out :)

Pitting is from moisture from skin head over many years, it will hide under the replacement

First, pull flesh ring from old head

Then clean it, smoothing all of the square edges with fine steel wool, it helps to not have sharp places when you re-use it.

This head with "Bruno" stamp is as old as the original and is off of a 11" Gretch banjo
Both Mfg's are from NYC, and Bruno was a music distributor that was also based in NYC, so its a period head, from the same town.
Nice and thick, lets hope I can save enough to make it pull on the 8" rim
It is quality hide, polished top, and today new a 14" would be around 120.00 unmounted.
Stick with plastic if you are faint of heart.

Wetting out, I keep a spray bottle going on it until it softens up.
Trimmed all I could, and still hope to get it to mount.

heat shrink for the flesh ring ends
You have to have room to get the head to "tuck between both hoop and rim and pull down without too much friction.
It takes a lot of practice to know what any given Hide either used or new may do after mounting.

Here I am showing the clearance, imagine centered, 1/2 this distance

Since I have very little to tuck  and want to center that logo You have to be careful to stay focused and keep the head centered, putting on a hook set, tucking, then another, come around and get a couple on the front.
There is nothing easy going on here, it just looks like it!

OK, its all tucked and edge pulled tight to the flesh ring.
Centered, and hoop is level.
I will add all the other hooks and do the first real pull on it, staying level and keeping it sprayed with a little water.
They dry very quick in the summertime in my shop.

You can see the edge has gotten shorter and its really close to where I want it to be for now so I will trim it

New razor, flip to the other edge when I am halfway around so its a sharp cut.
I do the part that is the lowest, then grab and go.

That is all the excess. People that do these all the time know that ain't much to work with
Now if it dries and settles in we will be good to go.

This is where I stopped the first pull
When it dries it will tighten much on its own, and I can pull this much and get clear of the neck pocket

Pretty neat, lets hope it stays like this.

Resonator inside block sanded and sprayed with first black coat
Outside dyed and ready for clear

First clear coat

Bound, - vertical ivoroid, thr lines are clearly shown.

Neck binding profiled, tint applied

 Ready for new Epi logo before the last coats.

Ready to overcoat

one coat to go

Will stop here and cure for 3-4 days in the heat of the back shop.
Then wet sand to see if I need to add any more clear.
26 TB3 is also taking on its new finish now that it has a resonator.


Resonator hardware cleaned of rust and remounted, felt added to notch

All buffed and waxed, ready to assemble
An extra Bruno marked head came in today, that was wierd.
Only 3 have ever been here!

Found some better screws for the super tiny and wonderful original Grover spring loaded tuners.
Added new washers to give the buttons a rest for the screws.

Tailpiece is bent in 20 directions but I will re- use it after beating it back 19 different ways.
I have no Grover Simplex's here at the moment and it will work just fine.
Fingerboard all buffed  and cleaned , old wood nut re-used.

Since we found no matching thumbwheel I used 2 hexs, and this single will ride along in the case and maybe someday one will show up

Strung with Aquila Nylgut Soprano Hi G-CEA

When you have alot of broken bridges around, this is what you can do with them.
Re-purpose all you can!
I like the sound  and action of it so it stays for now.

Nice and bright, and powerful as it could possibly need to be.
It will contend with any and all from that era, until this era and leave a multitude of "also rans" in its dust.

Thanks for watching, Vinnie