3/26/2012

c.1905 "Monogram" 5-string Banjo





Update 2014: I'm not sure of the maker. I assumed this might be related to Lange-made products originally but now I really don't know. It may actually be closer to an early Oscar Schmidt build with its curious fretboard and heel shape.

Readers of the blog know how I tend to get these simple old 5-strings in fairly often. They make great old-time banjos as the necks are strong enough for steel and fast enough for modern playing styles... and combined with their generally-excellent tone, I find them first choice for "budget" vintage 5-strings.

Work included a fret level/dress, cleaning, dowel reset, new nut and bridge, replacement peghead tuners, and setup. It plays nice and fast now -- and joyfully -- due to the lightweight build.

The scale on this guy is a full 27" and the rim is a smaller 10 1/2" which makes this less cumbersome in the lap while still retaining good tension on the strings.


New bone nut. Both the headstock veneer and fretboard are actual rosewood rather than dyed pearwood, maple, or the like which one usually finds on non-fancy early-1900s builds.

Apparently the "Monogram" mark was a Stewart & Bauer trademark according to Mugwumps. This shape is similar to the many "trade" instruments made by Buckbee in the late 1800s but is quite a bit wider.


Pearl dots in the board. This 5th peg is a 60s-style all-metal one that's screwed-in and then shimmed with a cut-off small screw to keep it from moving. It works well and is in securely but was installed with a bit of back-angle (towards the bottom of the neck) and there's a little gap at the top of the mounting hole.



This original skin head is in great condition and sounds nice.


New maple/ebony Grover bridge.



Here you can see some filled tuner-screw holes. This appears to have had 50s-style Kluson guitar tuners installed at one point. It came to me with dilapidated ivoroid-buttoned friction tuners but I replaced them with some all-metal 30s pegs to match the 5th peg a bit better.



I installed new neck brace shims (ebony) as well.



Here you can see the spunover nature of the rim with the integral "tonering" on the top edge against the head. The rim it self is one-ply maple.



All the rim hardware is 100% original.




It's also got a nice Elite tailpiece (original as well).

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