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Nov 15, 2019 - 12:05:34 PM
589 posts since 2/19/2012

A few months ago I bought a California-made Fender tenor banjo for my Irish music endeavors. It's in beautiful condition with the exception of a couple of nasty spots on the back of the resonator. I can't tell if someone tried painting something over some finish chipping or what, but at this point I think it will require refinishing to look decent. As you can see, this thing has a pretty dramatic sunburst so it's well beyond my skills if I want it to look at all original when finished. Only the back skin has issues....the sides and binding are fine. Any recommendations on where to send it for refinishing? It's probably not economically sensible, but I'd really like to get the resonator into the same sort of condition as the rest of the banjo.

Since there is so much color in this, it brings to mind some of the specialty electric guitar refinishers. Anyone been down that road? Or maybe it's not a big deal for someone in the banjo community. My experience with resonator banjos is limited.


 

Nov 15, 2019 - 12:12:52 PM

10464 posts since 10/27/2006

If you'd like a pdf of the full color Fender Banjo catalog, send me a message and I'll attach it to the return email.

Nov 15, 2019 - 1:18:54 PM

589 posts since 2/19/2012

Will do. Thanks!

Nov 15, 2019 - 1:57:46 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

11983 posts since 8/30/2006

Eric Sullivan. Sullivan Banjo company

It’s the real use of hand work that has stains wiped on
No airbrush

thats buckle rash

Edited by - Helix on 11/15/2019 13:59:26

Nov 15, 2019 - 2:49:44 PM

589 posts since 2/19/2012

You know, I probably would have been okay with buckle rash, being a sign of someone enjoying the banjo. I'm afraid this rash was treated with some sort of home-cure that didn't exactly improve it.

So that's likely a hand-applied sunburst? That would be fun to learn, but probably not on this one.

Nov 15, 2019 - 3:15:40 PM

SBPARK

USA

328 posts since 2/25/2011

I'd just leave it as-is. That Fender 3TSB never looks right when someone does a refinish and you can always tell it's a refin. Same with Gibson acoustic bursts. Only Gibson can do that right. Anytime anyone else does that 3TSB besides Fender it just looks off.

Edited by - SBPARK on 11/15/2019 15:18:45

Nov 15, 2019 - 3:18:53 PM
like this

SBPARK

USA

328 posts since 2/25/2011

Reminds me of a '76 Precision bass I used to own. 

 

Edited by - SBPARK on 11/15/2019 15:19:16

Nov 15, 2019 - 4:58:17 PM

10464 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by SBPARK

I'd just leave it as-is. That Fender 3TSB never looks right when someone does a refinish and you can always tell it's a refin. Same with Gibson acoustic bursts. Only Gibson can do that right. Anytime anyone else does that 3TSB besides Fender it just looks off.

 


Although I would also leave it alone, anyone that can match or repair a ‘60s Stratocaster 3-color sunburst can do this. Because it’s the back of the resonator, the red will not have faded to the extent that the front of a guitar will have after 50 years. Matching the red is always the biggest problem with this finish.

 

I recently saw a brand new Les Paul Custom done in this finish — not the normal Gibson 'burst but full on '60s Fender Black/Red/Yellow. Factory special order from Gibson. It was frickin' gorgeous! This surprised me —had it been described to me first, I would have thought, ewwwww...

Nov 15, 2019 - 5:32:37 PM

589 posts since 2/19/2012

You guys are making me reconsider, but we'll see. It's not something I need to decide on immediately.

Nov 15, 2019 - 5:34:08 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

11983 posts since 8/30/2006

I get it now the fix is filler something

I dig sunburst. I want to do it on a rim


Nov 15, 2019 - 7:08:18 PM

275 posts since 5/29/2015

Lays guitars in Akron Ohio has a reputation for doing superb fender electric guitar refinished to vintage specs

Nov 15, 2019 - 8:35:31 PM
like this

14847 posts since 2/7/2003

I would leave it, its battle scars earned.

IF you do decide to do finish work by ALL means take it to an ELECTRIC GUITAR finish specialist not a typical banjo expert. This was made at FENDER and finished in catalyzed POLYESTER. There isnt a banjo maker in existence that has used this finish or is used to spraying the Fender seventies three tone sunburst as well.

Scott

Nov 16, 2019 - 6:39:03 AM

589 posts since 2/19/2012

Hi Scott. I see many beautiful banjo resonators here that are the work of some highly skilled luthiers, but the colors in this suggested guitar to me...but I had no idea of the details. I appreciate knowing what sort of finish it is. Did these finishes ever lift or bubble up? I don't see any obvious scratches. I can't tell if something has been painted over some small scratches that may have reacted with the original finish or if what I see is in the finish itself. I wish whatever scars it had originally had been left alone or treated differently, but it is what it is. Did this likely have a clear finish applied over the color?

Thanks very much for your reply.

Nov 16, 2019 - 6:43:32 AM

SBPARK

USA

328 posts since 2/25/2011

Depending on the year (early-mid 70's vs late 70's) it could be nitro, or could be poly. That just looks like wear from a belt buckle, shirt buttons, etc. If it's late 70's and beyond it's almost certainly a poly finish, so there definitely would be a pretty thick, clear finish poly applied over the color. And over time those clear finishes will yellow. That just looks like normal wear after it had been scratched/dinged and aging of the finish. Doesn't look like anyone tried to add or alter the finish.

Edited by - SBPARK on 11/16/2019 06:45:24

Nov 16, 2019 - 1:26:07 PM

10464 posts since 10/27/2006

These banjos weren't made into the late '70s.

What is surprising me is that Allegro resonator on an Artist. OK, surprise is a little strong. If this was sold in the '70s it could be any combination of parts that Fender had on the shelf. Lots of Artists with Concert Tone necks out there. An Artist resonator has a walnut veneer but not as fancy as the Concert Tone.

If the pot has a 1/4" steel rod and is otherwise unaltered, that's from an Allegro — the resonator now makes sense. An Artist would normally have a tone ring — flat or arched top.

One of the best sounding and playing banjos I ever owned was my Allegro long neck. I hear recordings I made and kick myself for selling it.

Nov 16, 2019 - 3:39:14 PM
likes this

589 posts since 2/19/2012

Hi Mike. If you're referring to my PM about Fender, I misinterpreted the figure in the catalog. I have an Allegro tenor. It came originally with a simple tone hoop and now sports a Blaylock archtop conversion ring.

Nov 16, 2019 - 7:43:49 PM

14847 posts since 2/7/2003

Hi Parker

YES these instruments were painted exactly like that bass that someone posted a picture of. Without having it in hand Im going to feel safe its a POLY finish, And yes just like the bass its got a THICK coat of clear. If its poly its bulletproof, but prone to lifting and seperation if dented

EASY way to confirm finish.

Get a small amount of lacquer thinner or acetone, and put some on a Q tip. On the INSIDE of the resonator touch the Q tip to the finish and quickly wipe it away with a tissue. POLY wont be effected AT ALL. If its lacquer the quick touch with q tip should hve left a small area where it began to effect the finish. Its totally harmless.

I worked at Fender when these were built and as consulted often about building banjos by them

Scott

Nov 17, 2019 - 10:07:55 PM

10464 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Parker135

Hi Mike. If you're referring to my PM about Fender, I misinterpreted the figure in the catalog. I have an Allegro tenor. It came originally with a simple tone hoop and now sports a Blaylock archtop conversion ring.


Cool!

Nov 30, 2019 - 7:59:16 AM

589 posts since 2/19/2012

@desert rose
quote:
Originally posted by desert rose

Hi Parker

YES these instruments were painted exactly like that bass that someone posted a picture of. Without having it in hand Im going to feel safe its a POLY finish, And yes just like the bass its got a THICK coat of clear. If its poly its bulletproof, but prone to lifting and seperation if dented

EASY way to confirm finish.

Get a small amount of lacquer thinner or acetone, and put some on a Q tip. On the INSIDE of the resonator touch the Q tip to the finish and quickly wipe it away with a tissue. POLY wont be effected AT ALL. If its lacquer the quick touch with q tip should hve left a small area where it began to effect the finish. Its totally harmless.

I worked at Fender when these were built and as consulted often about building banjos by them

Scott


Scott,

This thread is a bit old by now and folks have moved on, but I just checked the inside of the resonator with lacquer thinner.  A quick swipe with a Q-tip yielded nothing.  If I put some thinner on a rag and wiped around a little, the surface got a little tacky and then quickly solidified again.  The cloth picked up a trace of very light brown, I guess may be clear poly that has yellowed?

Here's a closer view of one of the spots which also shows a tiny hairline crack in the finish.  I can barely feel it, but it's more than just a grain line in the wood.  Does the blistered spot look typical for some kind of impact, or do you think someone has put something over it as well; clear lacquer perhaps?   Assuming a poly finish, is it feasible to work this back down to at least a smoother area using micro-fine wet sanding and a small sanding block followed by buffing?  


 

Nov 30, 2019 - 8:15:12 AM

14847 posts since 2/7/2003

If the surface got tacky its NOT Poly, Poly is like glass, so you likely have a top coat of some non catalyed finish. I seriously would consider taking it to someone knowlegable. Finish work and especially finish repair takes YEARS to get a handle on

To be absolutely RIGHT you need it in hand. It looks like an impact from the pictures. It looks like to restore to original, color will be needed, but again I dont have it in hand

Scott

Nov 30, 2019 - 8:59:31 AM

589 posts since 2/19/2012

Okay. I certainly accept your suggestions. Too bad you're so far away! I'm sure color would be needed to restore it....I was thinking of something to smooth out the scabby looking result of whatever it's been through. The rest of the banjo is in such beautiful condition that it's hard to leave it alone, but I don't want to make it worse. Somehow real world issues like this are always a greater challenge than watching Dan Erlewine's videos on the Stewmac site. Thanks.

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