1920s Oscar Schmidt-made Openback Tenor Banjo

I worked on this banjo back in 2013 and, just like then, I still think this is probably an Oscar Schmidt build from the '20s. Last time around I gave it a fret level/dress, new friction pegs, a bridge, head, and set it up as a "baritone banjo uke" with nylon strings -- and this time around I adjusted the setup to steel strings with standard CGDA tuning (30w, 20w, 13, 9), cleaned it up a bit, added a better bridge for those steel strings, and installed some unsightly (but very practical) guitar-style tuners at the headstock.

For all intents and purposes, this no-frills (save for a star in the headstock) tenor banjo was probably meant for the student/introductory market when it was made. It has a simple, 10 3/4" multi-ply maple rim, short 20 1/8" scale length, one-piece maple neck with ebonized-maple fretboard and headstock veneer, and no tonering. As you might expect, these specs deliver a warm, sweet, mellow-sounding instrument with a folksier tone to it. It's not going to offend anyone at a jam but will still get you heard.

It's mostly original, though of course the frosted-top Remo head, tuners, and bridge are new. The tailpiece and rim hardware is original. It has a 1 1/8" nut width and a slim, comfortable, soft-V neck profile. Action is spot-on at 1/16" at the 12th fret and it has a straight neck. The nut is slotted to allow baritone-uke nylon strings, if desired, and I've heard this strung-up DGBE "Chicago" with steel, too, and know it sounds nice that way as well.

The neck was always attached in the way I prefer on doweled joints -- with a single bolt/screw from the factory. It's worked 100% so far...!

The simple tailpiece takes loop or ball-end strings. I always mute the string-afterlength with foam under the tailpiece cover, too, to cut down on overtones.