c.1965 Kay-made Silvertone Resonator Tenor Banjo

60s tenor banjos are a bit out of my usual tenor territory except when I get one through trade or come across one in decent shape locally. I found this guy down in Connecticut while we were visiting family and picked it up as it was so clean compared to the usual dilapidated state I see these in at garage sales. While the Silvertone name denotes a Sears-sold instrument, this is clearly a Kay build and it even has Kay's patented neck-heel-adjuster mechanism.

Work included a fret level/dress, usual coordinator rod adjustments, new bone nut, and setup. It's all original save for the bridge and nut, has its original unmarked synthetic head, and has a perfectly functional woody, folky sort of tone. With a long 23" scale and guitar-style tuners I figured this would suit "Chicago" (read: DGBE) tuning and that's what I've strung it up with. It plays spot-on with a straight neck, sports a simple resonator, is plenty loud, and will certainly scratch that 4-string banjo itch.

While I can't tell what the whole thing is made of (most certainly birch) under that black finish, the fretboard is at least rosewood. The frets are brass and the dots in the board are plastic.

I had to swap out the original plastic nut as its spacing was terrible and it was installed at an angle to begin with.

I've actually compensated this bridge for two plain/two wound stringing. The tailpiece takes ball or loop strings. It's currently strung 32w, 20w, 14, 10 for DGBE tuning.

Guitar-style tuners make this an easy instrument to tune for those players not familiar with friction pegs like on older 20s-50s tenor banjos.

There are some scuffs here and there on the finish but overall it's pretty clean.


Kurt said…
This is my baby now! No frills, but it sure is a sweet player. Thanks Jake!
Unknown said…
Finally found one like the one I have. Dont know what is worth, but if someone is interested in buying it, please use email: gary.gognat525@gmail.com.


Ricky D said…
Great find and great pics!! I JUST picked up one of these from a local seller for decent price. Its also in Excellent shape. Have a very hard time restringing it but will be taking it to someone today. I have a 1960s Silvertone 1440/U! electric guitar and plan on rounding out the collection with the 1960s SIlverton bass and amp. Good stuff!!