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Luke Kelly playing a kind of banjo that I don't know

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May 25, 2019 - 8:27:06 AM
5 posts since 4/28/2019


I just found a picture where Luke Kelly seems so young and he is playing a kind of banjo that I don't know.

Here it is:

Also here (the 2nd picture of him):

I have also attached the photo.

This banjo looks like a five string banjo but with a long fifth string. I'm not sure about this because at the end of the neck it seems that the fifth string disappears behind the capo, but even so the headstock has five tuning pegs instead of having four and one lower for the fifth string...

Can anybody tell me what's the name of this kind of banjo and some history about it? Are they still for sale? Where can you buy them?

Thank you so much.

May 25, 2019 - 8:44:19 AM

4415 posts since 9/21/2007

Search for “zither banjo”

May 25, 2019 - 8:54:59 AM

1153 posts since 4/25/2007

Probably made by Windsor. They appear on UK Ebay regularly.

May 25, 2019 - 7:50:25 PM



2978 posts since 1/31/2005

That "Black dot" between the 4th and 5th fret is where the 5th string went. "Tunneled"

May 26, 2019 - 12:01:52 AM

Rob MacKillop


3058 posts since 9/2/2008

May 26, 2019 - 5:24:19 AM
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5 posts since 4/28/2019

Thank you all, you have solved the doubt. Thanks especially to Rob Mackillop, for showing me his incredible banjoist skills.

May 26, 2019 - 12:08:17 PM

179 posts since 6/15/2006

I think, Winsor is a good guess too. Clifford Essex also made this type of banjos. I once (in the late seventies) heard one in a street band in London and was much surpriesed over how much sound came from that fairly small banjohead and how well the sound was carried away in the open. However I am not sure that it had the fifth string on. I think he played it like a tenor banjo with a plectrum, but it was made for five strings. Steen

May 27, 2019 - 12:24:08 PM

1261 posts since 2/12/2009

A zither banjo indeed, I believe this was given to Luke by a folk singer he met whilst in England in the early sixties, the second picture shows Lukes Merlin banjo also a gift from Tommy Makem of the Clancy Brothers , Luke used this for most of his career until it fell to bits at a gig in the early eighties, it was replaced by the third banjo pictured, a PS5 vega longneck Pete Seeger model which sadly Luke did not enjoy for long as he died in 1984.

May 28, 2019 - 3:13:17 PM



9119 posts since 1/22/2003

The first picture shows a zither-banjo.

The second picture is a Merlin (aluminum) long-neck banjo:

Edited by - Emiel on 05/28/2019 15:15:33

Jun 2, 2019 - 3:02:27 PM

5 posts since 4/28/2019

i think that the second picture of him in the article is the same picture i attached, but anyway thank you.

Jun 2, 2019 - 3:36:05 PM



1422 posts since 3/27/2010

Most powerful voice then and now. Any recordings of him playing the zither?

Jun 3, 2019 - 7:03:04 AM

1261 posts since 2/12/2009

there is some cool footage of the Clancys on Pete Seegers TV show (Rainbow Quest I think) showing Tommy Makem playing that self same Merlin before he gave it to Luke.

Jun 22, 2019 - 11:03:09 PM
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5 posts since 4/28/2019

Yes Spoonfied, here is the youtube channel which have all que rainbow uest programs
The first one is the Clancy Brothers one.
Sorry Emiel!!! You are right!!!

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