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Melody Jo 4-string

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hi All,

I've just acquired a '30s (I think) 4 string banjo,British made "Melody Jo", seems to be a fairly low grade mass produced thing but not without its charm, tenor I think. It's a quite a cool looking thing (pics to follow) and in good condition for its age. I'm a 5 string player normally so wasn't 100 percent sure of the tuning but GDAE seemed to ring a bell from my days of meddling with a mandolin, it had newish strings on and someone had obviously set it up in the not-too-distant past as the intonation was just about right (well for an 80 yr old banjo!)and the bridge looks new-ish. I got it reasonably in tune in fifths GDAE and had a bit of a noodle - tuning constantly slipping, friction pegs of course - then I looked at the Mel Bay tenor banjo book that was in the case, which gave CGDA as the tuning, so I tried that but snapped the top string straight away anyway it seemed a bit ambitious for that banjo since it's got a high action already and no truss rod or any other simple adjustment on the neck. I'm wondering if I'd be better with nylon strings? And I reckon the head needs a tighten up as it's very plunky in that low tuning, but I guess I should go carefully as it's vellum - possibly the original head - and I reckon it might split quite easily if I give it a fright, I'm planning to tighten up in tiny increments all around the head till it's got more of a pop to it. Good fun to have a new toy especially when it's an old one! Any thoughts? 


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Playing Since: 2004
Experience Level: Intermediate

[Jamming] [Socializing] [Helping]

Occupation: Gardener

Gender: Male
Age: 57

My Instruments:
Cort resonator banjo, Goodtime open back, Melody Jo tenor, also acoustic and electric guitars (Gibson SG, Fender Strat), tenor ukulele

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
Martin Simpson, Dan Walsh, Richard Thompson, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Coal Porters,Anais Mitchell, Violent Femmes, Can, Gong, Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind, Bellowhead, Lonnie Donegan, and many many more

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Visible to: Public
Created 8/11/2009
Last Visit 5/14/2018

Been playing rock type guitar for many years, took up 5 string banjo a few years back and have become addicted - tried playing my own "freestyle" picking/frailing at first, went on to bluegrass pickin', now I'm somewhere between the two! I play banjo in two bands - Antic Hay, a three piece band playing mostly original music in the bluegrass/old time/swamp pop cajun gumbo genre, and Hellbucket, a four to six piece goodtime skiffle band playing mostly daft covers in the god knows what genre. Guitar has kind of fallen by the wayside but I do harbour the desire to plug the axe back in and play some screaming blues once in a while. Now learning tenor banjo too. And there's a neglected mandolin hanging on the wall waiting for new strings...

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