Hello, I just purchased a Leo Master 5 string with resonator and am having a hard time finding info on age and history of these banjos. I understand that it is a different company from the Fender Leo instruments.
The Leo Master was probably made by the Oscar Schmidt company and may be in the same vein as Bruno, Stella. There is some speculation that Leo master was made by United Guitar of New Jersey which was a successor to Oscar Schmidt. Some try to make a connection to W.L. Lange whose middle name was Leo. Anyway these are from the mid-30's- early 40's. I had a friend who had one and Darrell Sanders played one for a while when he was with Bill Harrell. This appears to have a replacement tailpiece and I can't tell for sure but the bridge looks like it is on backwards. If you could find a vintage nickelPresto or Kerschner tailpiece it would look better than the chrome one. It's a pretty cool piece. How about some pictures of the inside?
Oscar Schmidt was a rather large player in the market, but I'm pretty sure they subbed a lot of work out to other companies, which would account for the wide variation in styles and quality. Both Leo Masters I have seen personally had the yellow and red shield logo. Darrell Sanders banjo sounded so good that I had to approach him and inquire(this was back in the 80's)He let me pick it and I was impressed and have been hoping to find one I could buy. My friend Bill Quidley was an artist who did reverse-carved Plexiglas objects. He made a large screwed-on Plexiglas resonator cover for his Leo Master.