1920s Lange-made Triple X Plectrum Banjo

My pseudo-uncle Bill sent this up via my inlaws ages ago and I finally got around to fixing it up for him. He'd described it as a tenor banjo but when I popped it out of the case I was surprised to find a plectrum waiting for me! Plectrums are long-scale (this one is roughly 27" vs a tenor's 23" scale) 4-strings and traditionally were tuned CGBD low to high (like old 5-string banjo tuning, but without the high G).

Anyhow, this Triple X was made by Lange and if you look at it closely you can easily see that parentage as there are a lot of Paramount/Orpheum-like features and parts. It's got a maple neck, maple multi-ply rim, and good build quality throughout. Its weirdest feature is the tonering -- a hollow hoop that sits atop posts which run straight through the rim itself and raise the head about 1/4" off the rim, allowing sound to escape through the edges of the rim. This design should make for a ridiculously-loud instrument, but I think because of the bleed of having so much opening, it turns into an instrument with "medium" volume, though with a clean, sweet tone similar to Paramounts and the like. It's a lot easier to hear it from the player's perspective, too.

I had to do a bit of non-traditional work at the neck joint as the neck had entirely come apart around the dowel stick when it arrived. I glued all of that back up (it had sort-of exploded in all directions along the various seams) and then decided to double-bolt the heel through the rim rather than use the old shim-style neck brace which was both ineffective (I really don't like them, anyway) and also would have perhaps applied a bit too much pressure to an already-twice-repaired neck joint.

Post-work it's playing really fast and has a good-enough back angle to get a real tall bridge on it. I have it strung for DGBE with 5-string banjo lights (9s) minus the drone string.