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For Sale: John Monteleone top tension banjo

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Sep 11, 2019 - 1:23:19 PM
2042 posts since 4/18/2006
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Hi folks,

I have a very rare banjo for sale here from my late friend Mike Kropp’s estate. This banjo is a one of a kind John Monteleone top tension banjo that John built for Mike in 1976. The banjo is, according to Mike, the only banjo where John wrote in a serial number. (He made it number 500 as a joke.) John Monteleone is one of the most famous luthiers who has ever lived and did not built many banjos. In the banjo world he is known for making the neck on Bela Fleck’s style -75. He also made a neck and resonator for the great Eric Weissberg’s old style -3 conversion (the banjo that he used to record Dueling Banjos.) John Monteleone is legendary for his archtop guitars and mandolins. I’ve been playing banjo for fifteen years and have only seen one other Monteleone banjo for sale.

This banjo is beautiful curly maple. The neck has bella voce style inlays in an ebony fingerboard (Mike wanted something similar to Bill Keith’s banjo.) The resonator is a solid maple top tension style resonator that John built for the banjo. Recently the banjo was sent to Robin Smith for a new rim and complete set up. Before he passed away Mike had sent the rim to someone to fit a new ring and it is, unfortunately, lost. That being said, the most important parts are still there. I believe the top tension parts to be Liberty parts but only John would know for sure. The heel of the neck needed a slight refit but Robin took pictures of John’s signature before he put it back onto the banjo.

The tuning pegs are newer waverly tuners and the tailpiece is a newer prucha four hump clamshell. Mike had the original tailpiece from his favorite old style -3 on it. But since that’s my banjo now I decided to hold onto that tailpiece.

This is one or the most beautifully crafted banjos I’ve ever seen and if I could buy it myself I would in a heartbeat!

Feel free to email me with any questions!

photos in the classified ad here:

$5500 with Hardshell case.


Edited by - banjo1930 on 09/11/2019 13:24:37

Sep 11, 2019 - 3:07:14 PM

115 posts since 3/16/2008

Hi Gabe, I can't tell from your description what kind of tone ring is in it, and it's a new rim turned by Robin Smith? All the best, Ron

Sep 11, 2019 - 3:35:45 PM

12193 posts since 10/30/2008

John M did some banjo necks. My old music partner the late Bob Mavian had John build him a PERFECT RB-4 walnut neck for his flat head hearts & flowers PB-4. He asked for one change from "original" -- he liked to have one red dot in the fingerboard binding at the 12th fret instead of Gibson's usual black dot.

It was a gorgeous neck. Truly fine.

Banjo (and neck) sold several years ago.

I haven't seen many Monteleone banjos!

Sep 11, 2019 - 4:09:17 PM

2042 posts since 4/18/2006
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The tonering is whatever John put in it when he made it.  As for the rim.  Right before Mike passed he had this banjo taken apart so Robin put a new rim in it.

I’ve added an appraisal of the banjo to the classified ad.

Sep 11, 2019 - 4:17:22 PM

2042 posts since 4/18/2006
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For whatever reason BHO won’t allow me to upload the photo of the appraisal. I’ll try and figure it out when I get home, but you can email me if you want me to send it through email.

Sep 12, 2019 - 12:31:18 PM

153 posts since 4/17/2011

Amazing. There's been an embarrassment of top-tension riches on the market recently, this is like a cherry on the top. What a banjo! If I only could...

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