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Restoration #6 - Geo P Matthew fretless

This banjo was brought to me for repair and set up in November 2021, and the work was done in January 2022.

It was likely built around the turn of the 20th Century, and arrived needing attention in a few areas: 

The neck had suffered some damage around the fifth string tuner and been previously repaired. However, the wood used was relatively soft and unsuitable as fingerboard surface, so the fifth string pip had been torn out. Around the 12th fret position there was a new piece of metal installed - presumably where an old piece of inlay fell out - but it was not lying flush to the fingerboard


The vellum was torn and in need of replacement, with a couple of bracket shoes and most of the tension hooks missing. Those hooks that remained were bent out of shape by a too-wide flesh hoop, which had meant they strained to reach the tension hoop. 

There was no tailpiece, and the existing steel strings were simply looped around the tailpiece bracket instead. Similarly, the original bridge was missing, with an acoustic guitar saddle serving as a make-shift replacement.

My repair work addressed each of these in turn, alongside a strip-down and clean. 

  • A piece of rosewood was ebonised to match the existing fingerboard and installed where the chip was missing

  • A new fifth string pip was then added, and the previous (unfinished) repair wood smoothed and oiled

  • The fingerboard and headstock veneer were cleaned and re-oiled, and the friction tuners were adjusted

  • A new calfskin vellum was installed, on an appropriately sized flesh hoop

  • New bracket shoes and tension hooks were sourced and installed

  • A new bridge and tailpiece were sourced and installed

  • The old steel strings were replaced with a new nylgut set

Before photos:
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