1930s Melody King (Kay) Resonator Tenor Banjo

While branded "Melody King" at the headstock, this banjo is clearly a Kay/Stromberg-Voisinet build from the late '20s or early '30s. The headstock and style of "carving" at the heel's sides as well as the flange and overall build are all indicative of that. A local customer brought this in (it was his grandpa's) and my guy Tim did all the work on it to spruce it up.

It arrived with a broken tension hoop -- it was originally a top-tension banjo but the hoop was pot metal and badly damaged -- and so we swapped-in a nice 11" hoop from my parts-stash and a whole set of new/replacement/parts-bin vintage hooks and nuts. The dowel got a reglue into the heel, the frets got a level/dress, it got a new 1/2" bridge, and a good setup. The owner wanted to reuse the original skin head (I get it, it's historical) but my point of view is that these should be swapped-out for more modern equipment (Remo head) if one of these old tenors is going to get used daily. It just makes the instrument more consistent.

Anyhow, it's a cool old tenor and it's lucky that the neck was in good shape. A great many of these old Kay-made instruments have warped necks that are too costly to truly straighten-up and make useful.


Same resonator design as my Pacheco and Klemm banjo uke (which you posted about on 9/23/23) Could it be that P&K (which later was bought by Liberty banjo company) made the parts, or that it was an aftermarket resonator? Pretty fancy for a Kay!