1930s Windsor (British-made) Resonator Banjo-Mandolin

Yessir, it's got that "clop-clop" horse-hoof sound in spades. That's what I call the "good" banjo-mandolin sound. It makes you want to play lead off of crosspicked drones. Fun! The "bad" banjo-mandolin sound is when the things are so overbearing with overtones and odd, out-of-tune sustain that you want to pitch the instrument in the river.

A local customer dropped this off ages ago and I stowed it as a "this needs some serious work" project in the back of my mind for some reason, so I forgot about it in the long-term pile for way too long. Thankfully, he was coming-down with a buddy for some light work on some other instruments so I dusted it off and said, "oh, I'm an idiot."

It only needed the usual stuff: a level/dress of the frets, side dots, better neck joint reinforcement, a compensated bridge, and setup -- about an hour or two's work at most. Now that it's done, I'm really happy with this instrument. It both looks killer and has a nice tone, too.

The construction is interesting as well. It has a "zither-banjo-style" rim design like most British banjos (and French, and German ones) of the era, but it also has a "bloomed-out" resonator behind the main sidewalls of the rim. It's thus a full-on resonator banjo but it clocks-in at less weight and heft than a same-period American instrument and it has a little bit more of a woody tone, too. It's interesting.

It has a 13 1/2" scale length and a wider/thicker neck profile, but other than that I can't remember the specs -- save that the head was perhaps about 8 1/4" across...? That's why I didn't replace it with synthetic. One can get 8" Remo heads and 10" Remo heads but in-between that is a custom $80+ order that will (in these COVID days) take eons to fulfill.

Note that there's a little muting foam under the tailpiece to damp overtones.


McComber said…
That's a beauty. I relate to the river pitching comment with my banjolin. "It is what it is, it is what it is, it is...."
Jake Wildwood said…
Hehe, we still need to 4-string yours proper. :D
Nick R said…
I have those rosette inlays on a superb guitar made in Czechoslovakia in about 1934. It makes me wonder if the wooden aspects of this instrument were made there. I have a circa 1927 Windsor Whirle tenor guitar- a shameless knock off of the Epiphone Recording Series tenor and it was badly damaged in transit. My luthier did an incredible job of restoring it and he told me that the way the plates were sawn, it had to be from Czechoslovakia. Windsor would have been into metal bashing and why not buy the wooden parts from where they had the skills and the wonderful wood source?