2/20/2013

c.1924 Weymann Style 180 Tenor Banjo




I worked on a twin of this banjo back in December and I must say, it's rare for me to have another nice Weymann so soon. They're a little hard to find! This, like the one linked to above, is a style 180 and that means it's on the higher-end of the Weymann spectrum at the time. Weymann banjos were enjoyed by many of the professional players of the day and for good reason: this handles beautifully, it's built like a tank, and it has a bright, focused, but sweet tonality that makes it ideal for both chording and single-note melody. The Weymann banjos made in Philadelphia just ooze with quality but aren't that widely known, unfortunately.

Work on this tenor included a fret level/dress, cleaning, new head, new bridge, teardown/build up, a couple new ebony shims, and a setup. Action is 1/16" at the 12th fret and the slim, quick neck sports a 22" scale which means it handles a bit more like a short-scale tenor but has some more of the extra sustain and sweetness of a full 23" scale tenor. It's currently setup with standard tuning strings (CGDA).


The banjo itself is all original except for this new bone nut, the head, and the bridge. Check out that gorgeous pearl inlay, by the way!

This banjo is totally "deluxe" in looks with ivoroid binding throughout, several layers of "strapping" at the headstock, a pretty little purfled edge below the fretboard's binding, and of course extra pearl down the neck.


Pretty stuff!

The neck itself came to me with a slight bit of relief that has been addressed by leveling the frets to compensate. It now plays true and fast.



Isn't she a beaut? I love the medium-red finish over the flamed maple you see all of this thing. The 11" Elite "amber" head (like an upgraded Remo Renaissance) both sounds and looks snazzy on this instrument, too.


I used a new Grover 2-foot bridge, but the original (for slightly lower action or less-pressure tailpiece players) is included. The tailpiece is a Weymann patent type but unfortunately is missing its cover (like usual).


I love the bound edges of the flamed-maple resonator.


Here you can see some of that detailing a little better. The pegs are original friction Grover Champion types with ivoroid buttons.



Isn't that pretty? I love the heavy-duty hardware on these guys.


Gorgeous flamed maple two-piece neck with center strip! ...and it's "violin finished" too in a grey-green color to simulate an unfinished violin neck.




The resonator rear has some (typical) milking/ghosting to the finish.


There's the label up top.


The resonator is a slip on/slip off type that simply attaches with friction. It's super-easy to convert to an openback whenever one likes. Here you can see the patent Weymann hardware.


This "neck stabilizer" supplements the ebony-shim neck brace and keeps the neck tight and rigid to the pot.



Here's the neck brace with the friction-mounted ebony shims. I don't know what the extra hole was for. The serial dates it to around 1924-25.

Did I mention the multi-laminate "rim cap" on the bottom edge? So cool. The rim itself is multi-laminations of maple and is very rigid and tough. The tonering on this model is similar to a Vega "Little Wonder" type of a hoop set inside a nickel-plated sleeve but the Weymann variant has a slightly larger hoop which is probably why they tend to be louder and more focused.




One of the felt-padded "grippers" for the resonator has lost its bottom edge but they all function just fine to hold the resonator steady and securely to the rim.



It comes with a non-original chip case probably from the '60s.


Original Grover 2-foot bridge and head tuning wrench come with it.

No comments: