Truett -George

Harry George and Velma Truett were the power behind a West Coast movement to tune the 4-string plectrum banjo like the top four strings of a guitar.
 Based in San Francisco, Velma was the beauty and most of the musical talent, while Harry George was both the mechanical and business brains.
 The name "Trujo" is the combination of their last names, Truett & George. 
Harry George, a machinist who also played guitar and steel guitar, first experimented with modifying Gibson banjos, but by 1927 Trujo banjos were entirely made by Gibson.
 The very deep shell and heavy cast metal internal "megaphone" were designed to give Trujo's a deep, resonant tone more suited to the low tuning Velma promoted. 
1927 was also the year Harry and Velma had their first, and biggest, hits as recording artists.
 "Ghost Dance", featuring banjo and steel guitar, was released on Columbia.
 You can hear it on YouTube, and most listeners agree that it lives up to its name.
They had another hit in '27 with "Wabash Blues," and thanks to these recordings and lots of advertising Harry and Velma's banjo instruction business was booming. 
But the rise of the tenor guitar essentially put an end to trying to make the banjo sound like something it wasn't, and by 1929 Harry George split for Oregon (the duo had never married)
 Velma sold Trujo to two employees of their Oakland teaching studio and went back to the family ranch in Nevada.
 By late 1934/'35, Trujo was essentially out of business, and would soon be just another footnote in the history of the jazz-age banjo.
 

"Truett"
(Mfg by Gibson)
FON# 9373-15

19 fret tenor
Very rare instrument

Only 2-3 plectrum versions of this design have surfaced, to my knowledge.
I owned one of them. (Shown below)
We have not been shown another tenor to date.


These Truett's  pre- date the "Trujo" banjo , which evolved from the Truett, that was made in higher numbers.
Made by  The Gibson Co., this example utilized the shoe bracket Gibson 3 ply rim of the 1920's but cut to the specification of the Truett-George design tone ring and flange.
It is the most complicated design of the era and nothing else compares to it in  sheer size and depth.
I had mine apart for fretting so thought I would share some pics of it while it is apart.
It is not for sale.
 I have searched for an example in tenor since 2000 when I had the plectrum.
Hearts Home Acoustics in Boerne Texas acquired this example and my good friends Cheney and Tyler allowed me to purchase it.
1000s of banjos pass thru my hands and for me to want to own something other than the 2 banjos I already have is a big deal!
Thanks HH, for make my dream a reality.


Other articles on Truett-George/Trujo

http://www.banjoexpress.com/trujo.html

http://www.davidcgross.com/notices/LtColHarry-George

https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/112466/1


https://archive.org/details/TruettAndGeorge-WabashBlues


Truett History

http://www.earnestbanjo.com/truett_plectrum_banjo_by_gibson_9971.htm
I owned that one as well before it went for conversion

https://shop.gryphonstrings.com/products/-c1925-banjo-plectrum--bacon-and-day-silver-bell-no-5-50449-

https://reverb.com/item/535623-gibson-truett-5-string-conversion-1929

http://www.4stringbanjos.com/Restorations/OlderRestorations/TruettPlectrum/Truett.html


When this case of this magnitude is on the bench, you know its not something "Mainstream"

 
What goes in there? a Street Howitzer?



After fret work
All finish is original
All Hardware is original
Head is vintage, from BD Silver Bell
A nice thick vellum, that is what I want for this setup.



This model uses the early non grooved tension hoop seen on Gibson TB00.
11" rim diameter






Gibson factory markings


You can see a similarity with these flanges and the Bacon and Day flanges of the era.

Velma Truett can be seen in early BD catalogs, so this design factor is probably brought along with her.





I used a vintage Bacon Banjo head on it, to keep the mood going.
And I like vintage hide heads when its suitable and this is one of those times.







SETUP PICS























4-3/4" total depth











 

THANKS FOR LOOKING
Vinnie