10/06/2018

1910s Weymann 6-String Guitar-Banjo




Long-time customer Mr. Ben sent this Weymann here for sale. I'd heard about this and made a couple bridges and sent them through the mail for it, but I'd never actually seen it. Long story short is that it's a superb old 6-string banjo and even has the appropriate, 12" head size. It's a little earlier in build than the vast majority of Weymanns and the serial places it around 1918/1919.

It has no resonator, but as is usually the case for Weymann products, it's built very tough and with quality fittings and materials all over. These guys were, of course, purveyors mostly to the professional market. The neck is two-piece flamed maple, the rim is heavy, multi-ply maple with a nice veneer to it, it has a hoop tonering on the top edge of the rim, and it features the signature, super-practical Weymann neck brace/tensioning bar on the rear.

It's mostly original, but in the past someone installed a new, rosewood fretboard with something like a 10-12" radius and modern, jumbo frets and a modern, standard pearl-dot pattern. The neck also got a coat of overspray at that point. The job was good but whoever installed the board must've not planed and leveled the neck before fretting as the height of the frets was not accurate.

My work, thus, was to pull the banjo all apart, level/dress the frets, do minor cleaning and adjustments, and set it all up to play spot-on. It does and its neck has only 1/64" relief (essentially dead-straight) throughout tuned to pitch. Action is 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret and I've strung with with electric guitar (nickel-wound) 10s in gauges 46w, 36w, 26w, 17, 13, 10. The plain G string is the key to getting guitar-banjos sounding more banjo-like and less thumpy, dull, and no-fun to play. I've found that the standard electric 10s set is perfect. The rosewood bridge I made for it is also compensated for that stringing.

Specs are: 25" scale, 1 13/16" nut width, 1 5/8" string spacing at the nut, 2 1/16" spacing at the bridge, 12" head, and 2 3/4" depth. The neck has a medium-big soft-V shape and the big, modern frets and rosewood board (vs. the original ebonized maple, probably) make this feel a lot more like a boutique, newer instrument.


While the head has some wear to it, it's a frosted-top Remo synthetic head and thus will keep at tension even when you're traveling around with this fella.


The nut is new, too, and synthetic.



The tailpiece is probably not original but may be a period guitar tailpiece that's been cut-down to fit.



All of the rim hardware except for one hook is original equipment.





The blue foam just damps overtones and gives a clearer sound. 12" heads tend to have a lot of over-ring.

Note that this has a shim-style neck brace that helps tension the neck to the pot -- but it also has an adjustable bar brace that tightens it even more and keeps the joint tidy and tough.









It comes with a nice, hard case and extra bridge that I made compensated for Nashville-style stringing (gauges 22w, 17, 11, 8, 14, 10). It would need a little more fitting to match the radius correctly, but at least it's available.

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