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Sep 22, 2021 - 8:06:16 PM
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1 posts since 9/22/2021

I have a banjo I’ve had for years and it needs some repair before I begin playing. Let me start with the instrument I know nothing about banjos. I have a paramount piano volume harp qualitytone.made by W M L Lange New York ny style b . It has no cracks the finish is good. It needs a machine head strings and a skin.
Is it worth fixing where can I find the parts and where do I find someone that knows what they are doing? Any advice would be appreciated

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 09/24/2021 16:30:22

Sep 22, 2021 - 8:46:51 PM

14242 posts since 10/30/2008

The Paramount B is a fine old professional instrument and worth fixing up a little. I'm not a Paramount expert, but they are here on BHO.

First question you're going to get is, PLEASE post lots of detailed photos here for the experts to review.

You've come to the right place. Stand by!

Sep 22, 2021 - 9:22:42 PM
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rmcdow

USA

1011 posts since 11/8/2014

Edited by - rmcdow on 09/22/2021 21:35:22

Sep 23, 2021 - 3:58:45 AM

2756 posts since 4/7/2010

kdh10412

I'll recommend you post a full series of picture directly to the forum, not just stashed in the media section of your home page. You'll get the best responses.

For pictures; Take the banjo out of the case. The case creates shadows and hides important details. Take a picture of the full front, full back, closeup of the peghead front and back, and a closeup of the tuner you need.

The head should be no problem. The most popular for these banjos is an 11-1/8" diameter with a medium crown, and inside frosted. Though it is always good to confirm by doing your own measurements. There is always a certain inconsistency in these vintage banjos. For the record, I do have the specific head I mentioned in stock.

We look forward to more details and helping get your banjo in playing condition.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com

Sep 23, 2021 - 4:41:39 AM

1538 posts since 5/19/2018

Kristopher - You should post your question in the Collectors Forum. Please make sure you post numerous pictures. As mentioned, there are many, many experts here.

From the little I can see, that is a very fine banjo. It is without question worth fixing up for as tenor banjos go, it pretty much lives up to its name, Paramount.

Sep 23, 2021 - 5:18:03 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14592 posts since 8/30/2006

First of all, welcome to the hangout, this thread is going to be fun.
What is a machine head?

My opinion is that when Vega and Stromberg were big, Lange was the upstart from Brooklyn with real innovations like a variable aperture resonator, no one has ever come back and redone that one, bayonet mount, too.

Many people put a newer 5-string neck on something older like yours.
I made a tunneled 5th string for the Lange I worked on.


Sep 23, 2021 - 5:53:54 AM

14242 posts since 10/30/2008

Thanks Mr McDow for posting those photos of the banjo in question.

The first thing I notice is a key missing part -- the stretcher band/tension hoop, which holds the head tight onto the banjo pot.   It is a metal circle that would slide right over the top of the pot that is pictured.  Hopefully the OP has it, and it's just not in the photo.

By "machine head" I presume you mean a tuner, which resides in the peghead with the other 3.   A non original, non matching, but functional tuner is an easy thing to get.  But I seem to remember the original tuners on Paramounts with the Page "figure 8s" which are unique, and not available as modern repros (I don't believe).  I also read here that at least some Page tuners are fragile and prone to disintegration.   Some specialist here may have a stash of working Page tuners though.  Post a photo of front and back of the peghead and someone will speak up.  Same for the stretcher band/tension hoop, if you need one.

Unless the tailpiece is simply out of the photo, you'll need to get one to restore the banjo.  Occasionally old originals are offered for sale -- they are known as "window latch" tailpieces for Paramounts.  But again, almost any tailpiece will do for getting the banjo playable.

Edited by - The Old Timer on 09/23/2021 06:01:48

Sep 23, 2021 - 5:58:57 AM

rmcdow

USA

1011 posts since 11/8/2014

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

Mr McDow are your photos the banjo in question in the Original Post? Or a nice example of a Paramount B?


I took the url for the photos from the OP's media section, so they are the OP's banjo.  They can also be seen in his media section, along with one other close up photo of the label in the rim.

Sep 23, 2021 - 6:04:02 PM

8990 posts since 8/28/2013

A very good banjo that should be repaired/restored. It will take some time, though.

The tuner (if that's what you mean by "machine head") is most likely one of the pot metal Page tuners, which are noted for crumbling, and many players simply replace the entire set with modern geared tuners. Tuners made by Gotoh are very good, and available at a good price from Bob Smakula. If you wish to keep things all original, it will probablt take a while to find one that works, and you'll pay a premium price for it. Any tailpiece will work, but the original "window latch models do show up here and there. The main difficulty will be that missing tension hoop, mentioned by Dick Bowden> That could take quite some time to find, and I hope that this banjo's hoop is lying around somewhere so that you don't have to do a long, long search for an original. There are no new ones made (it's an odd size) so you'll have to find an old one from the 1920's or early '30's. You can't install the banjo head without it.

Sep 24, 2021 - 2:25:22 PM

13944 posts since 6/29/2005

Paramounts are great banjos, but often musunderstood and underappreciated.  The person who taught me to play bluegrass had a Paramount. He lives in SanFrancisco now and had someone there do beautiful work on it, so there are people wo are familiar with them.

I don't know whether yours is a 5-string or 4 string or what you want to do with it, but I think your instincts are correct in wanting to find someone who will do the right thing.  Bluegrass people will be dismissive.  A Paramount has antique value so shouldn't be used as an experiment in creative banjo repair IMO.

Sep 25, 2021 - 6:07:49 AM

8990 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

Paramounts are great banjos, but often musunderstood and underappreciated.  The person who taught me to play bluegrass had a Paramount. He lives in SanFrancisco now and had someone there do beautiful work on it, so there are people wo are familiar with them.

I don't know whether yours is a 5-string or 4 string or what you want to do with it, but I think your instincts are correct in wanting to find someone who will do the right thing.  Bluegrass people will be dismissive.  A Paramount has antique value so shouldn't be used as an experiment in creative banjo repair IMO.


What's visible of the neck indicates this is a tenor banjo. The fret markers show this.  

It should probably remain as a four stringer, and would certainly be valuable as such considering that tenor banjo are now being used for ITM as well as Dixieland and other other standards. I only hope that the O.P. has the tension hoop, or can find one easily. These used a grooved hoop rather than a notched hoop, and if I recall, it should be the same hoop used on the Orpheum banjos also made by Lange. That might widen the possibilty of finding one.

Sep 25, 2021 - 2:18:52 PM

13944 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

Paramounts are great banjos, but often musunderstood and underappreciated.  The person who taught me to play bluegrass had a Paramount. He lives in SanFrancisco now and had someone there do beautiful work on it, so there are people wo are familiar with them.

I don't know whether yours is a 5-string or 4 string or what you want to do with it, but I think your instincts are correct in wanting to find someone who will do the right thing.  Bluegrass people will be dismissive.  A Paramount has antique value so shouldn't be used as an experiment in creative banjo repair IMO.


What's visible of the neck indicates this is a tenor banjo. The fret markers show this.  

It should probably remain as a four stringer, and would certainly be valuable as such considering that tenor banjo are now being used for ITM as well as Dixieland and other other standards. I only hope that the O.P. has the tension hoop, or can find one easily. These used a grooved hoop rather than a notched hoop, and if I recall, it should be the same hoop used on the Orpheum banjos also made by Lange. That might widen the possibilty of finding one.


The charm of grooved tension hoops is that they don't have notches that determine the j hook spacing.  An almost perfect fit could be tweaked by a silver solder joint under the tailpiece.

It's still not clear to me what this person wants to do with the banjo—keeping it as a 4-string is a straightforward preservation/restoration project—making it into a 5 string is more complicated and creates the possibility of numerous atrocities that could be committed to it.

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