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An old Five String Tenor...

Posted by John Herrington on Friday, March 13, 2009

The ancient momma and her tall son came through the secretary's office and into my domain. They wanted to show me something  they though would interest me. The son held out an old tenor banjo. It only had three strings and was crusted with the crud of years gone by.

"Thought you might be interested in this old banjo. It belonged to my daddy and I understand you play the things," he remarked. I very cautiously inquired how much was he asking for it. After looking at me as if I had underestimated him, he declared, "It's yours if you want it."

Now granted it is not the grandest example of banjo art, but a quick examination revealed I might restore the instrument, so I accepted his offer.

I remembered running across Yellowstone Jewelry on Banjo Hangout. Mark Ralston of that firm rebuilds old tenor banjos, often converting them to five string instruments, retaining their short necks and adding a "wing" to the upper side of the neck allowing it to be wide enough for the fifth string.

To make a long story short I have converted my "new" old Concertone (?) banjo into the slickest little 20-1/2 inch scale "A" tuned banjo around. It is a delight to play, and the old dog has a nice clear sound coming from the 1/4 inch round steel tone ring under its original skin head.  I have a new banjo; would you believe it?? I will post a picture or two tomorrow if I can.

My thanks to Mark and his blog You might want to check out this site.

Old John on the Big Horn

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