NEW BANJO ACQUISITION!! I just got a prewar Recording King M-6 banjo in its original glory to go with my new M-5 Greg Rich made me. This banjo was shipped to Montgomery Ward in Chicago on September 23, 1938. These banjos have deeper resonator sidewalls. The resonator on this banjo is 2 1/16” deep! This ones a rare bird for sure. The only one I’ve seen with the “Recording King” painted on instead of inlayed into a big pearl block. I like this better. It looks neater and not as sloppy. These were made by Gibson to my understanding and sold through the Montgomery Ward catalogs. The serial number on this one is DW-392. D being the year it was made and W standing for “Ward” which is who it was sold through.
Shortcut to the video
Lincoln, you are building an awesome collection of players. That is a really cool banjo.
Hey Lincoln. I have almost the identical one to that, except mine had the Pearl block on the headstock, and had the Catlin buttons on the tuners. Here's a link to a post I put up about it. I love the tone of mine with with the brass hoop too. Mine is also on the Earnestbanjo site. 1939 EW-509
Beautiful banjo! Congrats!!
I've been doing some Montgomery Ward poking around and have Ward's catalog Fall Winter 1939 1940.
This catalog has No. 1593 which banjo apparently was available from the catalog for several years during the late 1930's but I don't know if it is your model.
A scan is attached.
Greg, is that an original five string?! It sounds great!! These banjos have a depth to them that I really like. More open and airy sounding.
Edited by - gibson49classic on 06/14/2018 11:46:35
Yes it's an original 5-string .. nice
wow...that's kick ass!
Dig the shell inlays
Edited by - Astrobanjo on 06/14/2018 12:23:25
Hey Lincoln, when you get a neck made for this are you going to stay with the original Recording King design and logo? Maple or Mohagany? And nice picking' by the way...
Brent, my plans are to have it made exactly like the original tenor neck. Painted on design on the headstock, inlay into a rosewood fretboard, maple neck with darkened up heel.
Lincoln, I misunderstood I guess thinking your M6 was an original 5 string. Now I notice you have a wreath 5 string neck on it in the video.
Also, great to see my buddy from decades ago, Dick Smith, laying the thumb to it.
I have seen a couple of these advertised for sale over the years in original 5 string. Not particularly expensive.
I've always wondered if putting a notched tension hoop and regular hooks on it would add some "bong" to the tone, just from the added metal weight. More like an RB 1 or 2 perhaps.
Keep us posted Lincoln. Can’t wait to see that!
And Dick I’ve thought the same thing about adding a notched ring to mine. I may have to try that. What brand would you recommend for that if you were trying it yourself?
I have the 4 string twin of yours setup with a matching factory Gibson neck and resonator from a 80s (guess) rb-1 and with proper head tension, I’m tickled with it. I reused the factory window pane tailpiece. I tried it couple months with stock deep resonator but achieved full satisfaction with standard depth resonator.
I have considered having my stock resonator cut, how much it’d cost versus selling it. I feel bad not using it yet also feel bad cutting it. But I found just a tinge too much hollowness in mine I couldn’t dial out with the stock deeper resonator. But, I admit, I’m not patient enough. And that’s more important on woody setup that something with a ring. But, once dialed in, I’d rather play it as my great sounding tone ring banjos.
Wish my ball bearing prewar sounded this good. Just being honest.
I shouldn’t have used the term woody. I meant to infer, that to my ear, it’s easier to setup a banjo with a full weight tone ring rather than banjos with tone tubes and or rods. And I think that extra patience required in setup runs true also with about anything that’s not a full weight flathead ring. To me, they are easiest and quickest to dial in to their maximum potential. Maybe I’ve fooled with them more so I can get them to their sweet spot the easiest.
I’ve also got a mid 20s tb4 pot, which is the large hollow, like 1/2” tone tube, and it’s only 10.5”, but with a heel well fitted on replacement 5 neck and lots of dialing it all in and so forth, it’s a credible banjo that you’d just not realize it’s not a full 11” pot.
Interesting Brett. I agree the setup is a little more finicky on these. Seems like each turn of the nut on the hooks makes a huge changes in sound on mine. Also bridges make a bigger difference than normal. Mind posting a picture of your resonator? If you ever decide to sell the resonator let me know. I really like them.
Edited by - gibson49classic on 06/16/2018 05:48:10
Brent I haven't bought a notched tension hoop since 1970, wehn I got a nice brass one from Buck County Music in PA. But everybody sells 'em. Cox, Huber, Prucha (Greg Boyd House of Instruments), probably RK, etc. Just be careful it's Gibson spacing, if you buy something used.
Nowadays I suppose you can also buy Zamac (pot metal) tension hoops, which would probably match up closer to a 30's Gibson construction. Without having to pay "vintage" price.
And you'd need a set of round hooks/nuts too.
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