12/28/2011

c.1920 British-made Banjo Mandolin





This is a British-made banjo mandolin, c.1920 or so, with a "zither banjo" style suspended-in-rim-on-brackets head mount. This rim design gives a projecting, focused, and loud sound but not a lot of bottom end -- so as expected this has a sort of spidery tight sound that cuts real well but isn't as mellow as a typical American instrument.

I worked on this same mandolin a while back for a customer, but since then its been oversprayed on the rim and headstock and the neck reverse has been refinished natural. Also, a new tie-dyed sort of head was installed (all not on my watch). I received this in a trade and did a setup on it, light fret dress, and recut a vintage bridge to be a compensated-style banjo mando bridge.

It plays great, has a fun tone, and has a wider neck which makes a lot of chord forms much more accessible up and down the neck vs. a typical 1920s neck from the time (typically only 1 1/8 or less at the nut and narrow right to the heel). This sort of feels like a Gibson mando-banjo Jr model ("MB-JR") in terms of tone and playability, but with a sort of springier shorter scale and more sustain.


The nut has a broken bit on the A string pair but the pair still has slotting room left.


Ebony boards, pearlo dots, frets are freshly dressed.


This green/swirly dyed head looks pretty snazzy on this pot.


I recut this old bridge from my parts bin with a compensated top for mandolin stringing.


Tuners work great.



I always liked the cool metal "dot" in the middle of these zither-style rims.





Fun "British Made" tag.


And it says "English Make" on the tailpiece as well. Note the typical Euro-style "strap button."


And it has its original case as well.


Brass-plate tuners work dandy.

3 comments:

Lardy Fatboy said...

The Lion on the headstock above the British made is the Trademark of George Houghton and Son's of Birminingham. They started manufacturing in 1888 and the factory closed in 1962. As well as making thier own range of instruments they made them for other people who rebranded them

Anonymous said...

I have one marked the same but with G. H. & S. Trade Mark Model XXS included in gold lettering.

The whole lot has then been rebranded and over stamp with: Beresford School of Music.

Luckily, the original stamp is still very readable.

Blanik said...

I also have a G H & S model XXS with the Beresford School of Music stamp on the back of the drum.
I had it modified with a new bridge giving it a better action and rather than eight steel strings had four ukulele strings tuned GCEA.

I retained the original bridge in case I decide to part with it - which will only be at my death - and the next bugger wishes to convert it back to a banjo-mandolin for some reason.

It converted to a magnificent ukulele banjo with a great soundauthdr and very loud.