5/17/2012

c.1925 Gretsch "Twenty-Five" Openback Tenor Banjo





This is a good-quality, long scale (23") openback tenor banjo made by Gretsch around 1925 or so. I don't know if the "Twenty Five" model name has anything to do with the year, but this banjo almost certainly dates to the mid 1920s. I worked on an identical model recently and this one is every bit as good as that one -- simple and no frills but rugged and after work plays and sounds great.

This one has mostly original hardware though 3 (identical type) hook/nuts and the tailpiece are period replacements off of a parts-bin broken donor banjo rim.


This even has its original 11" skin head and non-tip Grover bridge.

My work on this 'jo included a fret level/dress, cleaning, and of course a good setup. It plays great, with 1/16" action at the 12th fret -- spot on and fast.


Cute pearl-inlaid Gretsch logo and model banner. The nut is original but synthetic.


The fretboard looks like ebonized pearwood. Nickel-silver frets and MOP dots.



The tailpiece has a hinged cover to keep the string ends out of one's arm!



The hardware shows some wear and tear but is overall in good functional shape. Note that the rim has a multi-ply maple construction with a thin mahogany veneer on its outside.


Here's that distinctive "volute" at the back of the headstock. This adds a lot of strength and is characteristic of Gretsch-made products from the time.





Nice ivoroid-buttoned tuners. Note that the neck is a two-piece maple type with center-strip. It's good and strong and fast and straight.



The mahogany lining to the rim gives it a nice dark-finish look.



The neck brace is tensioned by a set-screw and is the same type as seen on Regal/Slingerland-made banjos.

So, the overall review? A great tenor for a player used to long scale (23") instruments and wanting that warm, sweet, but focused openback sound.

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