11/19/2011

c.1918 Weymann Style 30 Banjo Mandolin





This old Weymann bears a 272xx serial number and "Style 30" stamped on the top of the headstock which dates it just about around 1918. If you've been following the blog, you know just how much I admire these Philadelphia-made instruments -- and especially their banjos. The quality is extremely high (I think of these as the Martin of teens and '20s banjos in terms of understated craftsmanship), the build is rugged, reliable, and durable, and the hardware is all heavy-duty and high quality. Though harder to find than other makes I can always recommend one to friends and customers as a good, "have for the rest of your life" instrument.

This particular instrument was low on the totem pole of the Weymann price list (but not cheap compared to catalog banjos, mind you) in terms of expense and adornment. Style 30 is relatively plain but has it where it counts -- good thick maple rim (no tonering on this, just a shaped top edge), rock-solid build, and a great feel (and sound).

My work would have been a fret dress, cleaning, and setup except that some darn fool had cut the original fingerboard off before the 12th fret! So... I popped off the old board and fitted a new rosewood board to the neck -- complete with bigger (more modern) frets, a new bone nut, and also the re-used MOP dots from the old board. Like a dunce, though, I marked my sizing for the new board from the profile of the old one -- which had shrunk -- so on the bass side there is a cardstock-thin edge of neck-to-board overlap. I'd have to point it out to you in person to notice it, but it bugs me just the same because I know it's there! ...though, for sure the old board would have been worse even had it been whole and intact. Anyway!


Good solid headstock. Note the enclosed tuners.


New rosewood board feels nice and the brand-new frets give it a fast, modern feel (though I used a flat board).


I also installed a new head as the original skin one was torn -- this is a 10 1/2" Remo Renaissance I just happened to have on hand. The bridge is a parts-bin Grover maple/ebony type. I usually end up modifying a bigger, heavier (and rosewood) mandolin-style bridge for banjo mandolins (to cut down on overtones for the most part) but due to the fact that this lacks a tonering, the woodier and sweeter tone of the rim allows me to get away with a thinner, lighter banjo-style bridge.



I love Weymann hardware. Always gives the owner the feeling of confidence in the machine.


Metal-buttoned enclosed tuners look great and have aged wonderfully (they worked perfectly, no lube necessary).




The cover plates are lightly engraved at the edges (or stamped?).



Here you can see the traditional shim-style neck brace (with two new rosewood shims) as well as the "tension bar" which reinforces the neck brace's job.


Adjustable.

Did I mention the whole banjo is glorious maple? Good quality stock and the one-piece neck has a nice light flame/curl here and there.





The original tailpiece was broken so I installed this new repro "No Knot" tailpiece from my 5-string bits collection. I like these as mando-banjo tailpieces as well but it means that my foam mute is visible under the strings and on top of the head.


...oh, and it has its original hard case! Nice!

No comments: