1930s Harmony-made Resonator Banjo-Mandolin (4-String Conversion)

I received this spiffy-looking, Harmony-made instrument (the headstock and flange give that away right quick) in trade. I think the yellow/creamy pearloid fretboard veneer looks slick and gives this significant eye appeal over "more pedestrian" white/light cream pearloid that looks more uniform in color.

It's got a rugged, sturdy build and would've been perfectly fine with being strung-up with 8 strings, but I decided to convert it into a 4-string "melody banjo" variant of a banjo-mandolin instead. For the average mandolin player wanting to get into a more tenor-banjo tone, I think this perhaps a better direction to choose than a normal tenor banjo brought down to "octave mandolin" or "Celtic" GDAE tuning.

First-off, the pitch, feel, and fingering is the same as a mandolin, and second, it doesn't have the thwop of the floppy or dead-sounding low G. Third -- you guessed it -- it's not as much of a chore to keep in tune as a "normal" 8-string banjo-mando. Folks in the store have agreed when they've played these converted ones -- they're fun (rather than awkward) strung-up and setup this way.

Anyhow, tone is sweet and poppy with a decent amount of warmth on the bottom-end. It's clean, though, and doesn't have a shrieky high-end like some of these can have. The resonator definitely helps focus the sound over an openback version of this design, as the "simple hoop" tonerings can be a little overtone-prone without them.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, side dots install, new bone nut, mod of the headstock down to 4 strings and 4 new Gotoh Kluson-style tuners), new Remo Renaissance ("Elite" brand) head install, cleaning, minor fitting of the (included with it!) adjustable rosewood bridge, and a setup.

Setup notes: it plays perfectly with hair-under 1/16" action at the 12th fret, has a straight neck, and has plenty of action adjustment room at the bridge.

Scale length: 13 7/8"
Nut width: 1 3/16"
String spacing at nut: 15/16"
String spacing at bridge: 1 3/8"
Head diameter: 11"
Resonator diameter: 13"
Rim depth: 3"
Rim material: ply maple(?)
Neck wood: maple
Bridge: rosewood adjustable
Neck feel: deep C/U-shape, flat board

Condition notes: modded to 4-string, non-original tuners, non-original (but older) bridge, non-original (but a big upgrade) head, non-original (but another upgrade) nut. Overall the look is good but the finish on the rim is flaky and parts of it prone to flaking-off. There's average use-wear and wear-and-tear throughout the finish, however, as it is a '30s instrument.

It comes with: its damaged original chip case wit lid falling-off.


Oren Tikkanen said…
Do you still have that Harmony banjo-mandolin? If it's for sale, what is the price?