Paramount Style B Tenor Banjo (1921)

Paramount  Style B Tenor Banjo  (1921)

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Item # 8376
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Paramount Style B Model Tenor Banjo (1921), made in New York City, serial # 701, natural finish, laminated maple rim, laminated maple neck, ebony fingerboard, period black hard shell case.

The is a "Player grade" example of the Style B, a medium-fancy tenor banjo with all the style and construction features of the higher grade Paramounts, just lacking the glitz of the top models. Part of the most popular line of jazz-age banjos, the Style B was a midline instrument retailing originally at $150.00 -- still a lot of money in the 1920s. The shaped pearl inlay on the headstock is extensive, but not engraved like the Style C and above. The laminated neck and resonator are fairly plain, with inlaid wood strips and half-herringbone marquetry along the sides of the fingerboard. All hardware is identical to the higher models. While heavily used and somewhat modified, this is a very fine player's jazz-age banjo with a sound second to none!
 
Overall length is 33 3/4 in. (85.7 cm.), 11 1/4 in. (28.6 cm.) diameter head, and 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 23 in. (584 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/16 in. (30 mm.). This is a VERY well-used banjo and has had not only years of play and tinkering but a varied collection of the typical "old man" repairs and modifications seen on many long-serving veteran 1920's models. Much of the hardware has been replated in chrome, and the neck, resonator and rim overfished in natural. The original rosewood fingerboard has been replaced with a dot-inlaid ebony board, with larger frets than the original ones. The headstock shows a well-sealed crack to the back, and has finish work to the face that appears to have had small holes for added rhinestones later removed and filled.

The hardware is all original Paramount parts but spans several eras; the neck and dowel (with a very low serial number) are from an early 1920's banjo but the rim surround (with decorative perforations) and Paramount tailpiece are somewhat later. The heavy milled Page tuning pegs are original to the period, but have grommets added to the headstock face. The resonator has seen any number of internal attachments added and removed, with 5 (count 'em) large holes drilled around the rim and some edge repairs. There have likely been electric pickups, possible mutes and almost certainly lighting rigs added and removed over the years, and the scars remain. The resonator back is painted white on the inside and blue on the upper edge; the inner rim is lined in tan felt, probably from a time when there were hot lights mounted in it.

If you're thinking by now this banjo sounds rather like a hot mess, well that's not wrong. BUT it's not a wreck by any means-It has had a long probably fascinating history of playing in who knows what musical situations and remains a good playing and excellent sounding instrument. It was part of the estate stash of noted west coast luthier/guitarist/eccentric character R.C. Allen, and it's possible at least some of the work was done by him decades ago. While we love old instruments in mint condition, there's a lot of history in this one-built in New York nearly a century ago, and rode rough for generations since. Absolutely not a collector's instrument, this old banjo truly "Took a lickin' and kept on tickin'" as the slogan used to go and remains housed in a battered but functional 1920's case. Very Good Condition.