4/03/2011

c.1917 Weymann Style 40 Tenor Banjo


While I don't know the exact date on this, the serial number bumps around with others in the 1916-1918 era and the instrument (except for its tailpiece) is "to spec" with Weymanns from 1918, save that its style number (#40) isn't listed for a tenor banjo in that year, so I'm placing the timeframe around 1917. I did work on another Style #40 from a bit later (click for link) a while back, and it's essentially an identical instrument, save that it doesn't have a pop-on resonator like this one and it was also made with a darker finish (which at the time I thought was walnut, but alas, is not), whereas this instrument is finished in "natural."

So... where was I?

If you've been reading the blog for a while... you know that I'm an avid fan of Weymann instruments. This one is no exception and I think I'm going to hide it in the upstairs hall where no one will no there's an extra case hiding out... heh-heh-heh...

No doubts about it, this is a professional-grade tenor banjo, with excellent balanced and sweet tone, quite loud with or without its resonator, gorgeous to look at, and heavily built (Weymanns are built to last, and they do) with quality hardware, fittings, fit, and looks.


Gotta love the inlaid MOP in the headstock. Looks like a walnut fretboard. Not sure about the headstock veneer and heel cap, but I think they're ebonized walnut as well. Bone nut.


MOP dots in board, frets are thin and tiny, and I've given it a fret dress. I actually prefer frets like this as slides are super comfortable. The neck is a hefty v-shape, but I find it quite ca bit more omfortable vs. some of the narrower/thinner back-to-front necks typical on other makes.


The bridge is a new Grover Non-Tip and the head is a 10 1/2" Jos. Rogers head from my "private collection" circa around the same time as the 'jo. The tailpiece is not original and was on the banjo when I got it. The Weymanns from this time typically have a Presto-like tailpiece, as the "own brand" Weymann tailpiece wasn't adopted until a little later. The current tailpiece is a '20s mandolin-style one, to which I've added a quality tailpiece cover from my parts bin.



Sure looks like business!



Fretboard is bound, and this banjo has a wide nut width and neck profile which makes chording wonderfully easy.




Check out the outrageous flamed maple on the resonator! Rosewood binding top and back, and the resonator's wood is all bent solid stuff, not laminate... which would tend to decompose at this age.



Original ivoroid-button friction pegs.


I love the "pie slice" construction on the resonator. All solid stuff again, with rosewood lines inset for contrast.



Really glorious to look at.



Here's "under the hood." Two of the friction-mount thingies (the L-shaped, felt-lined pieces of wood) were unglued entirely, with the third broken in half and separated from the side, and the fourth entirely missing. I've since reglued the remaining three in a "triangle" shape and this supports the rim perfectly and has a good hold (this type of resonator simply holds on by friction with the rim). Allllsssooo... had to glue up some seams on the resonator and repair a crack in it near the heel.

On a side note -- someone drilled a hole in the side of the resonator wall to mount a strap hook. This is likely what damaged the resonator in the first place as it's not really built heavily enough to hold the whole banjo.



This makes a gorgeous open-back banjo, too!



Note the heavy-duty hardware.



Gotta love the twin neck-brace/neck-stabilizer. Good design.



The original end bolt with the typical banjo-mount tailpiece is stashed in the case with the remains of the original (broken) tailpiece. I was thinking of putting a repro Presto or something like that on here but I like the 1910s look of the mando style tailpiece just fine. The fun (rare) cover with arm-wear helps a lot, however!


Oh, and it has its original hard case, too. SWEET. And it's not your run-of-the-mill case, this has green corduroy in place of the usual felt stuff. SWEETER.

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