1940s Kay-made Resonator Tenor Banjo

This old Kay-made tenor banjo is either very late '30s or very early '40s. It has the earlier metal bracket design for its adjustable-neck-angle gizmo and a bigger neck profile than what I expect of the same-style banjos from the late '40s. It arrived for consignment in good order, but I went through it to make it a practical, modernized player.

Now that's been done, it plays fast and easy and has a good, choppy, loud voice that cuts easily. I've owned several of these over time and used them on/off with our jam group. The consensus is usually that they tend to overpower our group even when I try to keep my picking light -- so for band use these things work. It's a long-scale instrument, so players wanting to use it for "Celtic" (low GDAE) tuning should take note of that, as the stretches are longer.

The design is simple -- it has a ply-maple rim with simple hoop tonering on the top edge, a one-piece flange, full resonator back, and a sturdy neck. A good-quality adjustable tailpiece allows for fine-tuning of the tone.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, side dots install, new Elite (Remo Renaissance) head, new maple/ebony bridge, geared guitar-style tuners, mild cleaning, and setup. I also added a "holder bolt" under the single coordinator rod's mounting to lock the neck in position and to keep the neck from a tendency of this design mounting to rotate a hair.

Setup notes: the neck is straight, there's plenty of fret-life left (though they're the original small/low stuff), action is bang-on at 1/16" at the 12th fret, and it's currently strung for standard CGDA tuning with gauges 32w, 20w, 13, 9. I can restring/setup for whatever tuning that's desired.

Scale length: 23"

Nut width: 1 1/8"

String spacing at nut: 7/8"

String spacing at bridge: 1 3/8"

Head diameter: 11"

Resonator diameter: 13 1/2"

Depth overall at rim: 3"

Rim wood: maple ply w/mahogany veneer

Fretboard: ebonized maple?

Bridge: maple/ebony

Neck feel: medium C/soft V shape, flat board

Neck wood: mahogany

Weight: 6 lb 10 oz

Condition notes: replaced head, replaced tuners, new side dots, new bridge, otherwise original and fairly clean throughout.

It comes with: a later, '50s-style chip case.