1960s Winston (Teisco/Kawai-made) 6-String Electric Banjo

Oh no! No sound clip! I just didn't have time, unfortunately.

This is another "Rick score" and he bought this Japanese-made crazy machine for a 6-string-banjo-picking friend of his to use as a stage instrument. Drowning in Guitars has a good writeup on this model. Earlier this year I helped Rick adjust a cheap, import 6-string guitar banjo into the format this is setup for -- open G banjo tuning but with an extra low G below the normal low D. That reads as gGDGBD from bass to treble, with the first "g" the usual octave/drone string. He's been going at it in that tuning ever since and the utility of using a 6-string banjo is that one can simply slap a capo across the neck to get into different keys.

It's an odd duck, though -- clearly this was targeted towards guitar players as it has a 23" or so scale length and was fit with a whammy. The bridge features a Jaguar-style "flip-up" mute bar but the mute is missing. I'm wondering if the intent for this model was to basically keep the mute engaged all the time to give this a "plugged-in-banjo" vibe. A foam mute would do that, for sure.

It came here somewhat-functional and, because I was planning to get it ready for Rick yesterday, I wound-up being in time-crunch mode to finish it off before their show tonight. Saturdays tend to start nice and easy but then pile-on with absurd amounts of walk-ins. Yep -- that's what happened. So, with only an hour left to fix it, I did manage to get it going.

That included... a fret level/dress, spray-out of the controls, new output jack, new tuners fit at the headstock, move of the strap button to the "shoulder" and off the neck's rear, removal of the whammy bar and blocking of its tailpiece, restring, and setup.

The tuners that were on this were not reliable and the Teisco-style whammies used on these are also not reliable. The plate that takes the bar for the whammy actually warps and rocks against the string-stop with use which... is why these things never stay in tune. So -- it's blocked, now, with the bar stuffed in the case. The tuners are new Gotoh aged-finish keystone-style ones and work just dandy.

Tonally, it's bright and clean and jangly and has surprisingly-hot pickups. I was worried they might need swapping-out as a lot of pickups of this style can be sort-of weak or overly-microphonic.

The body's super-thin, by the way, and check out the "German carve" and fancy binding all over the place. It's really a slick-looking instrument.











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