12/22/2011

c.1925 Dayton Banjo Ukulele





Dayton brand instruments are hard to find -- there weren't a lot of them made -- and are of nice quality, if a little rough around the edges visually here and there. Their banjos are quite well respected especially since they use block-rim construction (where the rim is glued from many small blocks and then turned) which is quite heavy-duty and imparts great tone.

This sweet little banjo has some hardware grunge but has survived quite well. It looks like the heel we repaired at one point in the past, but my work on it was the usual: cleaning, fret dress, hardware de-gunking (where possible), replacement bridge (from the parts bin), replacement tuners (new style Grovers), and a setup. I also installed a replacement head on this one since the original was torn to shreds.


Ebony headstock veneer and ebony board and nut.


MOP dots, nickel-silver frets.


I used as slightly thicker skin to tone down the instrument somewhat. Daytons generally use pretty big tonerings and coupled with the heavy-duty rim that can mean harsh sound. This head makes it sound perfect -- sweet and bell-like and mellow but with incredible volume.


The bridge is straight maple or birch and works well with gut/nylon strings.



Here you can see that block rim design a bit. Also note how the hooks go into holes in the edge of the tension hoop -- nice touch! I want to say this instrument is made from mahogany and walnut but I honestly just can't be sure exactly what it is with the dark stain.





Good-sized heel.



The neck is attached to the rim Gibson-fashion with a single coordinator rod. I love this rugged design. No fuss!



And there's the nameplate!





The worst-rusted bit is the tailpiece, but it still functions just fine.

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