Ode Model 35 Tenor Banjo , c. 1963

Ode  Model 35 Tenor Banjo ,  c. 1963
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Item # 12021
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Ode Model 35 Model Tenor Banjo, c. 1963, made in Boulder, Colorado, serial # 815, natural finish, cast aluminum rim, laminated Peruvian mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard,, tweed hard shell case.

This is an interesting and slightly unusual tenor banjo, a product of the original Ode operation that largely built 5-string instruments. Ode Banjos was founded in 1960 by Chuck Ogsbury in Boulder, Colorado. The company's stated goal was to design and build quality banjos that were both exceptional and affordable. After starting with Seeger-style long neck openbacks, by 1962 Ode offered a full line including 4, 5, and 6-string banjos in both openback and full resonator styles. This early tenor dates to that initial period, a rare find as the bulk of production was 5-string instruments.

This banjo matches the specs of the Model 35 tenor illustrated in Ode's 1964 catalog. Specific early features include a cast metal rim with integral tone ring, laminated Peruvian mahogany neck and an optional metal resonator with engraved sides and a rosewood backplate. The elaborate adjustable tailpiece is an Ode creation based on the 1910's Lyon & Healy Kersher.

The fairly deep soft "V profile neck has a prominent headstock volute and protruding sculpted heel; it is faced with a dot inlaid rosewood fingerboard sporting larger fretwire than 1920s banjos ever did. The neck finish is a thin varnish with a satin finished headstock featuring an impressed "ODE" logo. The adjustable truss rod is accessed on the face of the headstock and the original tuners are "pancake" Grovers.

The workmanship on this banjo is extremely fine, in its own way equal to the "golden era" tenors of the 1920s although with a different aesthetic. Ode was bought up by Baldwin in 1966, leaving the original banjos like this as the testament to a small and dedicated operation. We rarely see these genuine early Ode banjos in any format and this resonated tenor is an unusual find, a fine player's instrument with its own history and character.
Overall length is 33 1/2 in. (85.1 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) diameter head, and 3 in. (7.6 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 22 1/2 in. (572 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/16 in. (27 mm.).

This 60+ year old banjo shows only some fairly minor wear overall and appears all original except for a later head and bridge. The wooden back of the resonator has some dings, dents and scrapes and the very thin neck finish is worn to the wood over part of its length. The metal has some tarnish here and there but overall is nicely preserved.

This is a superb playing, great sounding banjo. It is very loud, an excellent high-quality tenor with "Mod Cons" for more reliable playability including larger frets and an adjustable truss rod. While perhaps a bit eccentric by vintage tenor aesthetics this is an excellent instrument and a cool piece of banjo history in its own right. Overall Excellent - Condition.