12/22/2012

c.1924 Weymann Style #180 Tenor Banjo


This beautiful tenor banjo would have cost quite a pretty penny when new! Style #180 was approaching the higher part of the Weymann line in its day and the build, styling, inlay, and playability all speak to that.

The serial dates it to around 1924 and it's very typical of a "professional grade" Weymann product, sporting a big, multi-ply 11" maple rim, heavy-duty quality hardware, and a medium 22" scale. It also has a tonering very similar to a Vega "Little Wonder" type -- a bigger brass hoop that sits on top of the rim and is enclosed in a sheath of nickel-silver that's "half-spunover" the rim's edge.


Aside from the head, bridge, and replacement tuners, this banjo is all-original. Check out that lovely pearl inlay in the headstock! A few pieces have chipped out, probably due to a sloppy tuner install. Bone nut.


The fretboard and headstock veneer appear to be stained fruitwood of some sort. There's lovely pearl-inlay in the fretboard as well and much playwear. The board itself is bound in ivoroid binding.

My work on the banjo included: general teardown and rebuild, fret level and dress (which removed a tiny amount of relief in the neck), new head (a synthetic Remo frosted-top type, but the Taiwanese model which is a little warmer-sounding), cleaning, and setup.



It's really a handsome banjo and the colors chosen for it -- a yellow-cream ivoroid binding throughout and a medium-red stain over flamed-maple veneer on the pot -- are really attractive.


New Grover two-foot bridge. I like this model a lot as it has a good balance between response and fullness of tone.


This original, adjustable Weymann-patent tailpiece still has its engraved cover. Nice!


Here's some more pearl on the neck...!



Interestingly, while everything else is a variant of maple (flamed, curly, etc.) the resonator "walls" are mahogany.


Here you can see some more lovely details -- check out the pinstripe sandwich below the neck binding and also on the edges of hte headstock.


Really pretty stuff! The curly maple used for the neck is absolutely stunning, too, especially with its grey-brown "violin neck" coloration.



Gorgeous flamed maple on the back of the resonator... but this must have gotten a lot of sun since much of the red stain has leached out leaving this almost pumpkin-y color behind.


These Grover 4:1 planetary pegs are replacements but I went a step further and replaced the metal buttons that were on them with this more period-looking ivoroid ones.


Nice "stripe" on the back of the neck, too.



Ah, yes -- the resonator is a simple "pop-on, pop-off" type that uses friction to hold it in place. It's as easy as that to convert this to an openback for an old-timey sound.

Speaking of sound -- tonally this is very Weymann: crisp, precise, but with a sweet woody mwah to the low notes. Clarity is one thing these guys excel at, but you're certainly not going to compete volume-wise with a high-end Bacon or Lange.


See the big tension adjuster bar on the back? That works in tandem with the shim-style neck brace to keep the neck firmly attached to the pot very well. This is a patented Weymann design.


The heel cap has a split hairline along the path of the screws. This is very typical.



Serial and model number. Note the new ebony shims for the neck brace.


I love the multi-line inlaid "foot" on Weymann rims.


See the outrageously pretty flamed maple sides of the rim? Nice color, too!



Interior of the rim -- note the slight damage at the neck pocket area -- par for the course and nothing to write home about.


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