7/14/2012

c.1915 Bruno Openback Tenor Banjo




This simple-but-pretty double-spun tenor banjo was (probably) made by Lange for Bruno around 1915. It's very similar in ornamentation to a number of other Bruno-branded banjos (5-string and tenor) that I've worked on from around the same time, save that this has slightly fancier inlay on the fretboard and has a second metal-clad skin on the inside of the pot as well as the outside.

My work on the banjo included a fret level/dress, cleaning, new 10 5/8" Remo frosted-top head, new bridge, and setup. I'm really happy with the way this one turned out, since it came into the shop pretty darn grungy.



The old replacement nut is actually pearl. The previous owner had wedged it into the original nut slot too forcefully, causing chip-out at the first fret position of the fretboard, which I've glued back into place. I thinned down his or her pearl nut and installed it properly.

I love the folksy inlaid Bruno logo. The multi-colored pearl and snail shell inlay looks dandy, too! Both the headstock veneer and fretboard appear to be dyed pearwood.

The headstock shape on this guy will be familiar to owners of teens Lyon & Healy-sold plainer-Jane catalog banjos and also most Slingerland-branded instruments from the 1920s and 30s.


Nice "rainbow colored" pearl inlays. The Fleur-de-lis is particularly juicy with bits of purple and green thrown in.

Note the strings -- I have this setup for CGDA standard at the moment. 


The last inlay is slightly "pushed in" on the treble side, but it's all there.


Lately I've been upgrading my tenor re-work jobs with these nicer 2-foot Grover bridges. They sound a little punchier/gutsier than the usual (and cheaper) 3-foot Grovers.



Most of the pot hardware is original or at least period.

The rim itself has some "digging in" on the outer spunover sleeve of nickel-plated brass due to excessive head-tightening over time. While it doesn't hurt the banjo's performance, it does look not as nice as a good flat surface.


Ivoroid-buttoned friction pegs work nicely.

Looks like a maple neck, too. It's good and straight as well.


Heel cap is dyed hardwood as well. Like that extra neck reinforcement brace? I do!





The extra reinforcement brace as well as a tight-to-pot regular neck brace makes this heel join good, tight, and very stable.


See how the inner part of the rim is spunover, too? This gives the rim extra strength despite its thin size.




This has a nice Elite tailpiece (original) as well.

Basically: a good instrument for beginner to professional players who want a rugged, simple, and practical banjo for taking anywhere. And, like a good pair of jeans, it's broken in as well...!

2 comments:

Bruce McFarland said...

This is great, I have the twin of this banjo and have had it for almost 30 years. It looks virtually the same except I have a calfskin on it with nylgut strings. Has a really nice sound. Yours is the 3rd I've seen over the years, the last one I saw was at a local used instrument store.

Bruce McFarland said...

One other thing I have a Grover NoTip bridge, possibly the original.