5/09/2014

c.1930 Kay/Stromberg Voisinet Resonator Tenor Banjo




This is a customer's instrument that was in for a fret level/dress, cleaning, setup, and some new tuners. It's a Kay-built job around 1930-35 and has a full 23" scale. The owner wanted it setup for mandolin-friendly tuning so this rocks a low GDAE set of strings on it. It's a fairly simple instrument, all maple, with a plain-Jane hoop tonering but a full 1-piece flange. As a result it has a woody, percussive sort of tone that's a lot darker than expected for this scale length which tends towards bright and chimey.



Minimizing costs to the customer means not bothering to take the whole thing apart to move that Remo logo somewhere more suitable...!


New bone nut... the original maple wood one was too chewed up. This got a new set of Kluson-style tuners, too, as the owner didn't want clunky 1:1 friction pegs nor the expense ($65+) of 4:1 geared banjo pegs.


Many of the Chicago firms used stained maple for the fretboard. This becomes even more apparent on this guy as it has birdseye inclusions! The frets on this one were also really pitted until they got their leveling and dressing.


The (presumably) original bridge had enough "meat" to cut it down to just the right height. As for the tailpiece: the neck was installed on the rim not-quite-true so I drilled a second hole in the flange to hang it perfectly in line with the neck.

These are gauged 44w, 30w, 22w, 12 for low GDAE tuning.


I love that tortoise binding used on the resonator.




This isn't a perfect solution but it's functional, cheap, and works a lot better than 1:1 friction pegs for the novice player.


Again... cool tortoise binding.

I didn't take photos of another nice feature on this banjo: it totes the Kay "adjustable neck" mount which lets you dial in back-angle to a certain extent.

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