11/20/2010

c.1925 Gretsch-made Tenor Banjo


Here's a nice, punchy, warm, and very playable little Gretsch-made tenor from the '20s. The Gretsch headstock shape is the dead giveaway, but the build is, too. It's a tough-as-nails instrument with a good heavy maple rim and strong 5-piece maple neck. The tonering is that half-spunover style with short skirt made popular on Vega "Little Wonder" banjos from the same time period, and this banjos feels and looks very similar to them.

Everything on this banjo is original save the bridge and strings. I've patched a tiny tear in the original skin head to keep it going as it wasn't enough damage to make the head a throw-away... and vintage heads sound so sweet and warm (and don't stretch out nearly as much as new ones).


Rim hardware is good durable stuff with a nice heavy tension hoop.


Rosewood headstock veneer. Original bone nut.


Pretty MOP inlay on the board.





That finish is in pretty darn good shape and when the sunlight catches the maple it gleams.


Ivoroid-buttoned tuners look nice and work well, too.






New ebony neck brace shims.


Because of the way the end-bolt hole was drilled at the factory, it's necessary to tilt the tailpiece for better alignment with the neck.



And do you see the heel? There are three very thin hairline cracks on the bass side... they barely scratch the surface, however, when viewed on a cutaway with the neck off. They're barely 1mm into the wood, and I soaked glue into them to make sure they wouldn't open up any more than they are. No movement at all.


Pretty much, this banjo is a "Little Wonder" clone right from the get-go, with a similar sound and style, though with a "natural" finish. This has that short 21" scale length which makes Irish tenor banjo players go bananas.


Yep, and it comes with its original hard case, which is in good shape.

No comments: