Ser# 13373
Circa 1924

 "STL Bandjos Youth Band"

In memory of  Ginny Luetje
Because of her...The banjo lives on


A note on banjo repair...
We are needing young faces in the repair business as well so if any of you kids want to know about  the repair  of banjo and banjo related instruments feel free to contact me.
I have many examples of repairs as well as banjo building  listed on my restoration page at the link below.



Very early Montana, Round Hole Flanged
Repair as needed to make playable and look decent as well
She's pretty tired

Heavy wear on Fboard, cracked bindings

Finish wore off, well played upon instrument
Plain back, pre-celluloid

Heavy oxidation and dirt on instrument

Celluloid crazing on peghead and heel cap


1 lug broken from flange, all orig screws missing
Instrument has chrome plating on flange

rim and neck have been refinished several times,  possibly once by Bacon
Shoes and screws are still nickel plated

Heel contact OK

Grover 2:1 pancake tuners
Heavy crazing on both sides of peghead celluloid

3 collars, one is missing, I should have something

All binding needs replacement

Montana is not on the dowel on this early model

rust on the nickel plated parts

Rim celluloid is OK, needs cleaning

Needs frets and fingerboard detailing

In a line of Bacon, looks like a breakfast buffet
I will talk to Mike about a battle plan


Pulling old wire for replacement
Guard dog earning his pay.

Under that ugly old varnish is a white ivoroid peghead overlay, Im going to have to be brave and go real slow...

... but I think I can get it off and leave all my graving lines

I will place 5 or six more coats of clear over it and the neck

All the old varnish removed, leaving just enough of the old gravings to recolor, that was close

Leveling around the fret slots, the celluloid is worn but serviceable, and I will work with what I have

The varnish is always crystallized , it comes off in shards

and when it is sprayed over celluloid it can ruin it easily

Even after I got down to the bottom you can see where it crazed so deeply it will never go away
I will seal this right now and call it as far as i can go" depth wise.
I have a method that will seal it off and when I get some color back into the gravings I can make it look nice , but with patina

It's a necking party with no "spin the bottle"..... "_"

removing the rest of the varnish with profile sanders


Ready for frets and finish

Frets all in and sealed, ready to level

Leveled, polished and crowned
I will get some finish over the neck and work on the peghead overlay next

Hardware machine buffed, all missing pieces , I had in stock

I have pulled the last to lugs from the flange where the thumbscrews go in to hold on the resonator.
I will use the more modern parts to mount it

I have added threaded collars into the rim and made thumbscrews to match them

That is a much more positive mount, no more broken lugs

Installed the new Remo Renaissance, my favorite synthetic head if it cannot be calfskin, I want these
I have a coat of sealer on the neck for now.

I will remove the old yellowed varnish and take away a little of the buckle rash, but there will still be some stains and patina, it is white holly and once stained, its stained.

That's light sandpaper, 320#  I am only scuffing away the last of the old varnish to shoot on some sealer


Back and neck taking on finish


I use a specific type of acrylic that is meant for another purpose but I discovered that its very light opacity gave an opportunity to create a nice near original look for certain restos

As you can see it goes on opaque but as it dries it gains clarity and is transparent

You can see the peghead changing color now as I move down the board

After this dries a second color will be applied

The purple and the red will end up as a nice maroon although it looks as if that will not be the case! LOL

See it changing colors now.....

A good shot to show the clarity of the Acrylic after curing and a coat of clear to protect it

I think it gives a nice look and it is the best product I have found to give the old look with a modern compound.

The crazed up heel and peghead reverse will receive the same

Then 2 more coats of clear and the neck will be buffed and  final assembly can begin


New geared tuners installed
Strung to pitch, and settling in for final adjustments

All polished up and ready to go



Banjo plays with the nice clear tone that Silver Bell is known for, and I hope its new owner gets many years of pleasure and that it can carry him or her down the road of pleasure that these instruments have brought others over the last 100 or so years.
It's been fun to be a part of helping keep banjo alive and I know that Mike feels the same as I do .

THANKS GINNY..........we love you
Now it will be up to Don and Joe to take it the next step.



Presented to Kyle

Letter from Don Dempsey

Mike and Vinnie-

Thought you might like to see the happy face of Kyle after he received your awesome gift yesterday.
Thanks again from all 16 members of the STL BandJos Youth Band. Your kindness will be forever remembered.

Donald Dempsey
C: 314-952-0646
STL BandJos Youth Banjo Band


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