Repairing a Gibson Mastertone

Repairing a Gibson Mastertone

I’ve had this old, damaged, tenor neck hanging around the shop for almost ten years. Recently, a fellow came in with a matching pot and asked if I’d take on the job to join up the two.

The heel of the neck had been subject to a strange alteration at some point in it’s life. Today, I repair the damage and set it back to it’s original configuration.

Here’s the patch gluing in.


Banjos, coffee, and bare feet make for delightful work.

Banjos, coffee, and bare feet make for delightful work.

This week I have been busy at the bench converting a lovely little tenor banjo into a 5-string for Mr. Kyle Ollah.  I must take this opportunity to give my thanks to Kyle for remembering this small, forgotten banjo hailing from the 1920’s which has been sleeping in a corner of my shop for a long while.  He’ll be leaving Duluth in a scant week to offer his songs to merry people far and wide.  I am pleased to say that this banjo will take to the road with him.

I routed a ledge on the bass side of the neck and added a thin strip of some maple I salvaged from an old piano.

Then a long, flat piece of ebony to crown the neck.

An afternoon of carving, scraping, sawing, and sanding was topped off with a few coats of shellac and a smile.

Some adjustments to the neck angle needed to be made to compensate for the change in fingerboard dimension.  Jess Myshack stopped by to take this photo of me working.

A little of this, a little of that, a few cups of coffee, some random chats with friends, and a few hours later a happy Kyle plays the first music this banjo has made for decades.

What a treat.  Thank you Kyle.  Thanks, everyone.


1920’s Washburn Tenor Banjo

1920’s Washburn Tenor Banjo

A fine little tenor came in today. It has one of the strangest tone ring systems I’ve yet seen.

Check out how the hooks catch inside the hoop via entry holes.

Now for some binding replacement.