7/12/2012

c.1920 Concertone 5-String Banjo




This is a no-frills, lightweight, and nice-sounding old-timey banjo from around 1920-1925 or thereabouts. It bears the "Concertone" brand on the dowel but has a "Slingerland" tailpiece. No surprise there -- whoever made the banjos for both these marks often overlapped their production on these two brands. There are many extant identical banjos with both marks found on them, particularly on the student end of the instrument scale.

I have a hunch that these were probably built by Regal in Chicago, but it's only a hunch.

This one has a 26 1/4" scale with 3/32" action at the 12th fret -- nice and quick for picking or frailing. The neck itself has a very small amount of relief, about 1/64" which is par for the course on almost any old instrument, and has very little (if no) effect on playability.


Simple headstock. I replaced the missing tuners with new friction types that I cobble together from various makes to create sets that fit the instrument in question nicely. These pegs are more or less like what might have been on the instrument in the first place.

Note the misc. hardwood nut.


The neck got a fret level and dress. I installed a new 5th string nut slightly more "outboard" than the original for good, straight, string pull on the 5th string. For whatever reason, many old 5-strings have the 5th string nut too far inboard and it creates a "jam" around the 5th/6th fret when you're trying to get a hold on the low D string.


This instrument cleaned up pretty nice, despite the grungy hardware. This is a new Remo "frosted top" head. Considering the plain-top (head on wood, no tonering) build, I figured this could do well with a little extra brightness vs. other Remo head types.


Grover maple/ebony bridge, 1/2" height.



What's nice is that all the rim hardware is original.



The new friction pegs work nicely.


Not sure on the wood type. Probably dark-stained birch.



This is a simple "shim" style neck brace, but like on old Buckbees, this one is center-mounted and folks -- as far as "wedge" shims go, I love this design to death. These almost never come loose even with a lot of toting around, and compared to the smaller-style wedge shims seen on a lot of other banjos from the period, these barely ever get chipped or broken because they're much larger.






Simple "Slingerland"-branded tailpiece.

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