10/27/2013

c.1970 Framus 13220 "Texan Series" 5-String Banjo


This appears to be a 1970s Framus (West German) 5-string banjo of the "Texan" series and would've originally had a resonator with a decorative flange. I almost never see them with these resonator still attached, though, so it's no surprise for me to see it converted like this as an openback. Like many German-engineered products (and especially Framus ones), it's overbuilt, rock stable, and sturdy as heck. If you ran the neck over with your car you'd probably do more damage to the car than the banjo!

I worked on this for a customer -- just a light setup and new bridge as well as a spot of cleaning, in this case. I like the feel of these banjos despite their odd design choices as they have a deeper (front to back) neck and comfortable, big old frets. The sound is chipper and poppy, too, which makes it a good instrument to use for clawhammer or fingerstyle play.




This has a Framus-branded Remo head.


The Fender-y "straight cut" headstock needs the string retainer/tree to keep proper back-pressure on the strings. The geared tuners make tuning really easy for a beginner, too, while the zero fret (of proper height!) insures an even tone to the open strings right off the bat. Note the (unnecessary, considering the super-laminated neck) truss rod, too.


Rosewood board with bigger frets... and faux-pearl dots. The string spacing on this instrument is pretty tight which might throw some folks off, though the deeper cut front to back means that it doesn't feel odd to me (and I prefer wider necks on my 5-strings).

The 5th peg is still a friction type.


The tailpiece is supposed to take ball-end strings but I didn't have 'jo strings in stock with ball-ends, so I just looped them around and under the tension bar -- fair enough!

Note that I've actually used a recut tenor banjo bridge (with compensated string slots, now) instead of a regular 5-string bridge as I had to tighten up the string spacing so they wouldn't flop off the neck when playing.


Funny faux-engraved amrrest.

Oh, did you also see the top-tension design of the rim? Everything adjusts with the same Allen wrench.


Strong wood rim with a big old tonering on the top.



Here you can see the multi-laminate neck construction. This makes these necks super strong and stable. Martin uses the same process on their newer, less-expensive instruments and (to be honest) you really don't even need to bother with a truss rod with this technique.





Under that plate on the heel are two screws that attach the neck to that giant metal "dowel."


On the other end, this adjuster sets your action! VERY convenient. I wish more makes made use of this simple setup device. It eliminates many headaches.


The overweight adjustable tailpiece certainly adds a good amount of sustain.

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