1920s Lange "Banner Blue" Resonator Tenor Banjo

Update 2018: After a few years of light studio use, this banjo came back in for consignment and so I set it up again, took new photos, recorded a video, and updated this post. She's ready to roll.

Lange's "Banner Blue" instruments seem to be aimed at the mid-level, advanced student or "professional on a budget" market. This tenor banjo is clearly in that spectrum as it has a regular-size 11" rim, heavy-duty typical Lange-brands build with an integral bracket band and plenty of hooks, but a simple finish, no-frills appointments, and a non-tonering, beveled-top-edge rim build. It's as loud as you could ever like and, to my ears, is a bit more pleasant and sweet than your average Paramount or Orpheum as it doesn't have the zip-zip-zap, chirpy, forward sound.

This one's a consignor's instrument and my work in 2015 included swapping out the head, cleaning it up, adding a new (compensated) bridge, leveling/dressing the frets, adding a new bone nut, and setup. It's currently setup with CGDA strings in gauges 30w, 20w, 13, 9. It plays on-the-dot with 1/16" action at the 12th fret and a nice, straight neck.

This instrument plays perfectly, is very functional, and feels sturdy. 

I like the star inlay. The original ebony nut was chipped away so this new bone one serves quite well.

When this was initially sold, the new owner had me install $110 worth of Waverly 4:1 geared tuners on it -- a functional improvement that can't be overestimated. I think they're the best banjo pegs on the market.

This has pearl-dot inlay and the dyed/painted-pearwood or maple board is very typical of Lange banjos for the lower-mid market.

The scale length on this guy is 22 7/8" which puts it in long scale territory which suits chordal playing or chord-melody playing to a T. I'm imagining that this was probably made between 1925-1930 so that's typical for the time.

The neck has a sturdy, but quick, rounded C-shape.

As you can see, the original topcoat of finish (glossy and thin) has chipped-out just about everywhere except the sides of the rim... where it's quickly popping off here and there if you rub it up against stuff. I think it looks "mojo-tastic," but if you're someone concerned about fancy looks: stay away.

Here's that heavy-duty bracket band that helps keep the rim nice and non-distorted.

Above is a pic of an old repaired section of the resonator's edge seam. It's good to go, but not matched perfectly.

All the hardware appears to be original. The simple tailpieces may at first look plain and dull -- but they easily accommodate both loop or ball-end strings and the "cover" at the top lets one stuff a bit of foam under it to mute the extra string length (and cut down on overtones). A plus.

Here's inside -- with the "Lange-made" mark clear on the dowel.

The neck brace is a good, sturdy one. Still, I've hidden a screw/neck bolt behind its cover for additional stability. Most players never adjust their neck braces (which frequently get a little loose as the weather changes) and so it's extra insurance.

An original (?) hard case comes with it. It's slightly oversize but works fine.