12/19/2008

c.1915 Supertone 5-String Banjo


Ah, spring! Remember those days? This was an instrument I worked on a long time back and enjoyed myself very much while it remained on the shop rack. It's an all-original, save bridge, tailpiece, and replacement tuner-buttons, Sears-catalog "Supertone" banjo, most likely made by Lange in the old Buckbee factory.


It has a cherry neck, cherry spunover rim, and all the simple features of a good, old-fashioned openback. The original skin head sits right on the wood above the spunover part of the pot (as opposed to my favorite spunover design, which is spun on both sides with the head resting on an 'integral' tonering) which gives this banjo a mild, mellow, but warm and still plenty-loud tone. Sounds great fingerstyle or clawed.


My repair and resto involved mostly cleaning, fret dressing, polishing of all the parts, replacement of missing parts (I managed to find a period no-knot style tailpiece to replace an ugly 1970s one that came with it, yahoo!) and general setup. I really, really like the way this banjo played... has a very nice 'bounce' to the tone, is fairly light in weight, and has the full 26" scale. Fortunately I've found myself a somewhat-earlier 'jo of similar design (and my favorite cherry! neck) to keep my lust satisfied.


Now that I look at it... I remember these tuners were probably 60s replacements. Those bushings are definitely of that vintage. The originals were more than likely the standard old Champion brands of the day. Ebony nut, dyed-pearwood veneer, and dyed-pearwood fretboard.


This one has a graceful u-shaped neck which is plenty comfy.


Pot shined up nicely, but the effects of some rust and tarnish can still be seen on some of the parts.


Headstock rear.


At the 5th... finish is still in great shape.


Mh-hm.


Pot detail -- very elegant and simple.


A banjo on a fine warm, green day!


There's the label. This would've probably been called "The Student" model, as it's No. 406.


Headstock again.


Glory shot.


Again, elegantly made.


And there's that lovely vintage no-knotesque tailpiece that fits right in. Also, the original head has yellowed a bit with age for nice patina.

1 comment:

Flint Hill said...

This is really lovely. Just got a rusty, but otherwise sound one off eBay. It's identical except mine has an Elite tailpiece.

Love your blog.