1950s Kay-made Silvertone Resonator Tenor Banjo

This Silvertone tenor banjo (sold through Sears) is built in the style Kay used for their entry-level tenors since the late 1930s. It has an adjustable neck gizmo, coordinator rod attachment for the neck, and a simple ply rim with a "hoop" tonering. In the '50s, these came with bone nuts and skin heads rather than the plastic nuts and synthetic heads used in the '60s. I replaced the original skin head (stowed in its original case) in favor of a parts-bin old Remo head with some "authentic" wear and tear, however.

The tone out of these is simple and a bit plunky, but they make good, practical players once they're adjusted and made a bit more stable by some alterations to the coordinator rod setup. The necks are fairly comfortable and these came with guitar-style (right-angle geared) tuners since the late '40s rather than the 1:1 friction pegs these same-style instruments were using in the '30s. Grover Rotomatics now grace the headstock but originally this would have had openback tuners.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, side dots install, replacement (synthetic) head, replacement tuners, a parts-bin (same-as-original-style) tailpiece, cleaning, minor adjustment to the mount of the coordinator rod, and a setup.

Setup notes: action is spot-on at 1/16" at the 12th fret and the neck is straight. It's strung for CGDA tuning with 32w, 20w, 13, 9 string gauges. The original frets are medium-sized but low-ish in height, though that's standard for this era of Kay makes. I only gave them a light level/dress job.

Scale length: 23"
Nut width: 1 1/8"
String spacing at nut: 15/16"
String spacing at bridge: 1 3/8"
Head diameter: 11"
Resonator diameter: 13"
Rim depth: 3 1/4"
Rim material: ply maple(?) with hoop tonering
Neck wood: poplar with steel rod reinforcement
Fretboard: ebonized maple
Bridge: recent Grover 2-foot ebony/maple
Neck feel: medium C-shape, flat board

Condition notes: replaced head (original in case), replaced tuners, replaced bridge, replaced tailpiece. There's average wear and tear to the finish throughout but it's in pretty decent shape for its age. There's some tarnish and pitting on some of the hooks and nuts.

It comes with: an original chip case in decent shape.