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Nov 28, 2021 - 3:56:01 AM
5 posts since 4/10/2021

Hi all. I got my hands on this lovely May Bell tenor banjo and wondered if anyone had any thoughts on age, quality etc. The head was torn, so I have removed it ready to replace, and it obviously needs a good clean. I wondered if it had a resonator at some point as the bracket hooks overhang the pot when in place. Thanks for any thoughts.


Edited by - Ramblin Bob on 11/28/2021 03:57:27

Nov 28, 2021 - 4:14:40 AM

302 posts since 2/11/2009

The Queen was a relatively inexpensive banjo with some nice cosmetics. The plectrum version is quite a bit rarer than the tenor. Yours is a later version (earlier ones had a wood fretboard and peghead overlay) which came out in the late '20s, perhaps 1930. Most had friction tuners but if it has factory-original gears then it's a little more desirable. That tailpiece is not original. It did indeed come with a resonator.

Nov 28, 2021 - 5:54:57 AM

9176 posts since 8/28/2013

This is not a tenor banjo. It is a plectrum banjo and probably can't handle tenor banjo tuning. It did have a resonator mounted with a bolt through the center into a metal bracket on the dowelstick (I can see evidence of the missing bracket).

May Bell banjos were a Slingerland product.

Nov 28, 2021 - 6:00:53 AM

5 posts since 4/10/2021

Thanks for the replies. Glad I asked before trying to tune it to a tenor!

Nov 28, 2021 - 8:56:49 AM



170 posts since 10/23/2017

I briefly owned a Maybell Queen tenor of a similar vintage (mid-late twenties as I understand it). Not too valuable, but the colorfully engraved celluloid fretboard lent it a great jazz age vibe (at least for its price point). Overall quality was pretty good, but unfortunately the market for these is thin, especially for plectrum banjos; although they are much less numerous, they are also no more scarce, due to even lower demand.

Edited by - AldenS on 11/28/2021 08:57:30

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