Restoration #1 - zither banjo (unknown maker)

This banjo was restored as an on-off project between other jobs in late 2021 and early 2022. 

It is of uncertain provenance as it bears no maker's mark - certain features would be consistent with it being a cheaper W. E. Temlett, but it could easily be the product of any number of imitators. It is likely to be around 100 years old, though that's also not certain.

 

When I acquired it it had probably been serving as a wall ornament for some time - it was stringless, bridgeless, and in place of a proper skin it had a sheet of thin blue plastic. A Golden Gate style tailpiece had been added at some point, and there were a number of drilled holes in seemingly random places. The finish was badly scratched and dented on the pot, and flaking away on the neck. 

 

I set about restoring it to something like new condition: 

  • The previous repairs to the headstock were removed and new, more securely situated repairs were made

  • To help disguise the repair work and hide the drilled holes, a new rosewood veneer was added to the headstock

  • A new nut was made, as the previous one was worn and serially re-slotted

  • A new fifth string pip was added, to replace a missing original 

  • The tuners were cleaned and the fretboard was oiled

  • The flaking neck finish was removed, and the neck was re-stained and finished with Tru-Oil

  • The pot was stripped down and re-spayed and re-finished

  • The tensioning system was cleaned and a new calfskin vellum head was installed

  • A new tailpiece and bridge were sourced 

  • New strings (half unwound steel, half nylgut) were installed

Before photos: