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Can anyone Identify this instrument?

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Jul 8, 2020 - 6:14:57 PM
2 posts since 7/8/2020

Hello There,

Unfortunately I'm unable to identify what type of banjo this is as there is no details on the piece such as model no. or brand. It's been in the family a while, and I'd love to be able to give it a bit of a refurb, however, I've no idea where to buy replacement heads or bridges/nuts etc as I don't know what kind it is. As an experienced guitarist I've done my fair share of maintenance/repair work and would like to have a crack at brightening this thing up a bit. If anyone could shed any light that would be appreciated.




Jul 8, 2020 - 6:27:40 PM

2279 posts since 12/31/2005

Do Google searches for "zither banjo" and look at images

Jul 8, 2020 - 6:29:01 PM

1398 posts since 4/13/2009
Online Now

A zither banjo. A search here and on google will yield much information.

Jul 8, 2020 - 7:06:59 PM

2 posts since 7/8/2020

Thanks for the speedy info. I've found a site cliffordessex.net, where I may purchase a set of strings and a nut, does anyone know what sort of head this zither needs and is it changeable at all? As you can probably see, the one in the photos is a bit worse for wear.

Jul 8, 2020 - 11:45:52 PM

Emiel

Austria

9508 posts since 1/22/2003

Yes, it's changeable. You need a new real skin head, also called velum.

The present head is not so much worn, it's busted because of too much tension. When the air is getting drier and the skin head is not loosened, it may burst. A real skin head has to be tightened when the air gets moist and loosened in time when the air is getting drier again.

Jul 8, 2020 - 11:55:59 PM

1395 posts since 4/25/2007

Looks like a Windsor. Pre war made in Birmingham UK.

Jul 9, 2020 - 12:03:34 AM

2774 posts since 4/29/2012
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quote:
Originally posted by Bored_Bloke

Thanks for the speedy info. I've found a site cliffordessex.net, where I may purchase a set of strings and a nut, does anyone know what sort of head this zither needs and is it changeable at all? As you can probably see, the one in the photos is a bit worse for wear.


Clifford Essex do vellums (vella ?) for heads as well. They come with instructions and if you let them know that you've not done one before I hear that they include a second grade head to practice with. 

Jul 9, 2020 - 2:09:44 AM

Emiel

Austria

9508 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:
Originally posted by AndrewD
quote:
Originally posted by Bored_Bloke

Thanks for the speedy info. I've found a site cliffordessex.net, where I may purchase a set of strings and a nut, does anyone know what sort of head this zither needs and is it changeable at all? As you can probably see, the one in the photos is a bit worse for wear.


Clifford Essex do vellums (vella ?) for heads as well. They come with instructions and if you let them know that you've not done one before I hear that they include a second grade head to practice with. 


I wonder if these instructions also include how to mount them on a zither-banjo.

Jul 9, 2020 - 2:20:58 AM

2774 posts since 4/29/2012
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Emiel
quote:
Originally posted by AndrewD
quote:
Originally posted by Bored_Bloke

Thanks for the speedy info. I've found a site cliffordessex.net, where I may purchase a set of strings and a nut, does anyone know what sort of head this zither needs and is it changeable at all? As you can probably see, the one in the photos is a bit worse for wear.


Clifford Essex do vellums (vella ?) for heads as well. They come with instructions and if you let them know that you've not done one before I hear that they include a second grade head to practice with. 


I wonder if these instructions also include how to mount them on a zither-banjo.


Not specifically. But it's not that different. I've found it easier to remove the whole metal apparatus from the pot when mounting a zither head.

Jul 9, 2020 - 1:35:29 PM

637 posts since 1/30/2019

Here's Andybanjo's Instructions for zither banjo head fitting. He sells Calf Skin heads of zither size for a reasonable price.
andybanjo.com/help_topic.shtml?show_id=32

Andy
(Genuinely no relation.....)

Jul 12, 2020 - 1:22:56 PM

johnedallas

Germany

140 posts since 2/18/2005

Definitely a Windsor 5-string zither-banjo! Probably an Artiste No. 3 or No. 4 model. At any rate, a pretty early one - say, pre-World-War-One - because it has a split 2nd fret. This was used early on to improve the intonation of the C-major chord. (If the 1st string is tuned to the 5th interval of the G-major chord, the E at the 2nd fret of the 1st string is slightly sharp when used as the 3rd of the C-major chord, which is probably the most-used chord in the classic repertoire.) This feature was omitted later on. 

As to fitting a new head, it'll have to be a vellum, because plastic doesn't come in those small diameters. The instructions linked to by Andrew are correct, but make it sound more complicated than it is. For instance, the draw-string is not really necessary. When I re-headed my Windsor, I left the tone-ring half of the bezel in place in the pot, and screwed the tension-ring half down on it. I dislike removing and re-inserting wood-screws!

When you're restringing it, use a zither-banjo string set with steel 1st, 2nd and 5th, plain nylon 3rd and wound nylon 4th. You can order sets from Clifford Essex in England. (Alternatively, the steel 1st, 2nd and 5th from a regular banjo set and the nylon  3rd and 4th from a classical guitar set work fine.)

BTW, you have 5 strings and 6 tuners. The tuner that is unused is the one on the treble side, farthest from the nut. Strings 1 and 2 are led to the remaining tuners on that side, and the 5th, 4th and 3rd are led to the bass side, the 5th being closest to the nut. Its tunnel emerges just at the right spot!

Have fun!

John

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