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17-Fret Tenor Identification

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Aug 16, 2022 - 7:03:42 PM
92 posts since 1/7/2021

Just picked up this tenor on FB marketplace.

Skin head, dowel stick, friction tuners.

I'm not a tenor guy, so I've got no clue, happy for any leads.

I just strung it up with D'Addario EJ63i (Irish Tenor) strings, and it plays well, though the friction tuners are a real pain. It's my first try with friction tuners and metal strings. I think I'll be sending Mr Smakula a message for some geared tuners.

Off-topic Bonus: It came with this ~1930s Regal Octofone
Off-topic edit: also interested in leads on where to order a new bridge for the Octophone
Next-day edit: added picture of resonator










Edited by - A Drum On A Stick on 08/17/2022 05:35:11

Aug 16, 2022 - 9:41:44 PM
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4590 posts since 5/29/2011

I can't say positively but I believe the tenor banjo may be a Harmony. That is an educated guess.

As for the bridge for the Octophone, an old flat bottomed mandolin bridge would work. There is a vendor on eBay called bezdez who is in Chelmsford, Ontario who has a couple of models that would probably do the job. One is $4, the other is $8. Both are $20 shipping to the US. Since you are in Toronto the shipping might be considerably cheaper.




Edited by - Culloden on 08/16/2022 21:48:19

Aug 17, 2022 - 12:21:06 AM
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rcc56

USA

4425 posts since 2/20/2016

I don't recognize the banjo.

Octofones came with cheap dyed hardwood bridges.
One such as those that Mark pictured would be an improvement over the originals. Elderly also sells one piece mandolin bridges that would probably work.

Two things to keep in mind:

1. Any bridge will probably have to be fitted, since "flat" tops are usually not really flat.
2. There's a chance that the available replacement bridges might be a shade low and need a shim glued to the bottom to raise them up.

If you wanted a compensated bridge, it would have to be hand made. I occasionally make mandolin family bridges, but one would cost a lot more than the ones pictured above.

I have an Octofone. I like it. They are quite lightly built, so string it lightly. I use 11-16 plain - 26 - 40 for GDAE tuning.

Edited by - rcc56 on 08/17/2022 00:22:01

Aug 17, 2022 - 6:25:29 AM

10009 posts since 8/28/2013

I don't think this banjo is a Harmony. Headstock looks more like Oscar Schmidt, but the neck attachment doesn't look quite right.

Aug 17, 2022 - 11:09:11 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

15841 posts since 8/30/2006

Here’s a little Washington Birdseye Maple made by ?




Edited by - Helix on 08/17/2022 11:09:51

Aug 17, 2022 - 1:28:38 PM

10009 posts since 8/28/2013

I own a Washington tenor that was quite obviously made by Slingerland. I don't see enough of the Helix banjo-uke to tell its make, but it does seem to show some Slingerland=like features, and with that Washington name, I would not be surprised if it, too, was a Slingerland product.

The OP banjo is NOT a Slingerland.

Aug 17, 2022 - 4:19:02 PM

DSmoke

USA

1244 posts since 11/30/2015

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

I don't think this banjo is a Harmony. Headstock looks more like Oscar Schmidt, but the neck attachment doesn't look quite right.


I was thinking Oscar Schmidt as well. 

Aug 17, 2022 - 5:42:56 PM

10009 posts since 8/28/2013

I like the mandolin. I can never get a good grip on those round back dogs.

Aug 18, 2022 - 11:44:15 AM
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92 posts since 1/7/2021

Thanks all.  I've ordered a mandolin bridge from bezdez, seems like a great dealer.  Lots of positive opinions online.

1/2" seems like it will be about right, but I'm willing to glue on a little shim if necessary.  Fitting it should be no problem.

The neck also has a bit of a twist, but I'm not looking for super low action, so I don't think it will be a problem.

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56


I have an Octofone. I like it. They are quite lightly built, so string it lightly. I use 11-16 plain - 26 - 40 for GDAE tuning.


Thanks for the advice, so does this mean you're using 2x of each string gauge: 11,16,26,40?  That's actually slightly heavier than the irish tenor strings I just bought for the banjo.  Those ones are The D'Addario Irish tenor EJ36i at 12,16,24,36.

I've also read some people put octaves on the lower two strings, so something like 40+16, 26+11, 16+16, 11+11.

Definitely looking forward to trying various strings and tunings on this thing.

Aug 18, 2022 - 5:13:48 PM
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rcc56

USA

4425 posts since 2/20/2016

Yes, I use two each: 11 + 11, 16 + 16, 26 + 26, 40 + 40. The neck has stayed straight and the top doesn't show any signs of suffering. If I don't think I'm going to play the instrument for a long time, I do tune it down a step when I put it in the case.

IIRC, I think I might have originally started out with lighter bass strings, but found them a little sloppy and moved up to what's on there now.

Yes, octaves on the bass strings seems to be popular on these instruments these days, but I've never been inclined to try it. If you do want to try it out, the gauges you proposed would be a good place to start.

Some folks don't have a favorable opinion of these instruments, but I like mine. When it was given to me 20+ years ago, we didn't have dozens of fancy new octave mandolins to choose from. No one was making them, except perhaps a couple of hand-builders in the British Isles. This was the first octave mandolin I had ever seen.

It needed a few things to make it playable when I got it. The holes for the tailpiece screws were wallowed out, it needed a nut and a couple of the back braces needed some glue. I plugged and re-drilled the holes, made an ebony nut, and had to get a little creative to glue the braces. I didn't care for the original bridge, so I put an old compensated ebony mandolin bridge on it that had been lying around in my parts box. I made a kind of art-deco pickguard for it and smoothed up the frets. I used it on a couple of small-time recording sessions, and might use it for a couple of numbers on an upcoming concert.

About a year after I got it, the neck started to come loose [these were dowelled on], so I took it off, installed a threaded insert and a bolt to replace the dowel. It hasn't needed anything else since then.

These were Depression era instruments. I always wondered whether Regal built these as a way to use up wood pieces that were to0 small for guitars but too big for mandolins.

I tune mine GDAE or GDAD.
Hope you enjoy yours.


Edited by - rcc56 on 08/18/2022 17:24:21

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Aug 18, 2022 - 8:18:22 PM
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10009 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by A Drum On A Stick

Thanks all.  I've ordered a mandolin bridge from bezdez, seems like a great dealer.  Lots of positive opinions online.

1/2" seems like it will be about right, but I'm willing to glue on a little shim if necessary.  Fitting it should be no problem.

The neck also has a bit of a twist, but I'm not looking for super low action, so I don't think it will be a problem.

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56


I have an Octofone. I like it. They are quite lightly built, so string it lightly. I use 11-16 plain - 26 - 40 for GDAE tuning.


Thanks for the advice, so does this mean you're using 2x of each string gauge: 11,16,26,40?  That's actually slightly heavier than the irish tenor strings I just bought for the banjo.  Those ones are The D'Addario Irish tenor EJ36i at 12,16,24,36.

I've also read some people put octaves on the lower two strings, so something like 40+16, 26+11, 16+16, 11+11.

Definitely looking forward to trying various strings and tunings on this thing.


those mandolin strings may seem heavier, but that's only gauge. The actual tension also depends on the scale length and the pitch. Actual playability depends on even more factors, one iof the more important ones being the player himself.

I agree with trying various strings and tunings. I have yet to own a banjo or mando that I didn't at least experiment with string gauges in order to get the tonal balance and feel that I desired.

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