1920s Mostly-Kay Frankenstein Tenor Banjo

This is a customer's tenor banjo and it appears to be made from Stromberg-Voisinet (Kay from 1930) parts, though it's been modified over time. It has fancy, engraved banding at the rim and nicer-than-average inlay on the neck as well as factory-original geared pegs. It was obviously intended to sit mid-market rather than in the student range when it was built, and it originally would've had a resonator back, too.

My work included regluing sections of the fretboard, a fret level/dress, much cleaning, adjustment to tonering seating at the rim, installation of a new head and a new bridge, and a good setup. She's playing spot-on with 1/16" action overall at the 12th fret and a straight neck. I have it tuned to "standard" CGDA with gauges 30w, 20w, 13, 9. It has a long scale, so the tone is a little more sustained and thus suitable to the chord-melody style of the time.

I originally thought that I'd need to plane the board and refret this banjo when it first came in. After regluing the board to the neck, however, much of the discrepancies in fret height were gone and I just needed to give the frets a mild level/dress job to get them in spec.

I added side dots while I was a it.

I really do like the Remo Renaissance "Elite" heads. The rim was a straight 11" so I was lucky-enough to get one on here.

There's a hole in the dowel which meant that this would've had a resonator at some point. The neck and rim seem to be matched, too, though the hardware situation on the rim has changed a little bit from stock. The hook/nuts are all replacements and I'm unsure if the two lower engraved bands around the rim's side were originally there -- though it's likely they were.

This has a big, thick brass "hoop" tonering at the top-edge of the rim. It wasn't actually making contact with the head, however, so I added a smaller brass hoop ring below it and that jacked it up to where it needed to be.

Geared, Grover banjo pegs are nice to see. Who wants to deal with friction pegs if you don't have to?

Ncice, huh?


Eric Young said…
With the long scale, would this be considered a plectrum banjo?
Jake Wildwood said…
At 23" no -- plectrum is usually 26-27" and rarely guitar scale (24 3/4" to 25 1/2").