6/08/2016

1924 Weymann Style 40 Banjo-Mandolin





I'm, by now, fairly familiar with Weymann banjo-mandos, having worked on half a dozen or more of them. Weymann built some really, really good instruments and they almost always hold-up better than any of the other "banjo competition" because they're overbuilt (in a good way). This is a customer's instrument, and despite many years of neglect, it went right back together easily.

My work included a fret level/dress, new Remo Renaissance head install, cleaning, a new rosewood bridge, and general setup. This style 40 banjo-mando has a few advantages over the more-common style 30s I see all the time in that its fretboard is ebony (rather than stained-maple) and it has a "Little Wonder"-style tonering (hoop-in-sleeve) which gives it more brightness/cut and a huge volume boost vs. the non-tonering Weymann models. Even with damping material stuffed behind the head, this is certainly loud enough to go toe-to-toe with many resonator banjo-mando models I've come across.


Luckily, this rim is something over 10" which meant securing a new head for it (to replace the original, funky old skin) was nice and easy. I don't even know how folks played banjo-mando regularly back when these were new -- they're an instrument that's hard enough to keep in tune over a session without having to deal with humidity-induced slack and tension-wonkiness.

The rim on this is multi-ply maple and the neck is maple as well.


All the fittings save the tailpiece cover, bridge, and head are original. The bone nut is... though I did have to save it from a bizarro glued-up shim job.



I prefer mandolin-style, one-foot, heavier bridges on banjo-mandolins as they increase tuning stability and warm-up the tone so they're not so shrieky. Often, the original bridges for banjo-mandos are heavier and around the same size... albeit in maple. Over the years they get lost and owners swap-out to tenor banjo or 5-string banjo bridges (modified) and then wonder why the instruments sound like a bunch of rocks in a tin can...

This Weymann has a 14" scale and I've strung it with a set of GHS A240 strings -- 32w to 9. Banjo-mandos absolutely despise the tone and tension of anything heavier.



The recessed, original tuners are going strong after a quick lube.


What you're not seeing, here, is the new bolt countersunk and hidden under the "stretcher bar." I installed one going into the heel (Gibson-style) in lieu of the original, shim-up neck brace which you can see attached to the dowel. After seeing what happens (time and time again) to setups with only light travel on shim-style neck-brace setups, I've all but given up on using them except for gut-strung banjos which put less tension on the joint.


Weymann instruments, however, have this nice "secondary neck brace" gizmo which actually helps to fine-tune neck stability and action. If you "counter-clockwise" this bolt it forces the bar up and applies back-angle/tension to the neck to force action lightly down. One can't get too carried away with it, however, as it's mostly reinforcement rather than adjustment... and if you do go crazy with it you'll split the heel (as I've seen on a number of old Weymanns).





As usual, all the hardware is heavy-duty and in perfect order after all these years. These were simply "built right."

The tailpiece cover, by the way, appears to be someone's home-made replacement for the original Waverly "cloud" cover which is almost always missing (they're friction-set and so fall off).

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