Epiphone Peerless Tenor Banjo , c. 1927

Epiphone  Peerless Tenor Banjo ,  c. 1927
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Item # 8759
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Epiphone Peerless Model Tenor Banjo, c. 1927, made in Long Island City, NY, serial # 6890, natural finish, Laminated walnut neck, rim and resonator; rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This charming and relatively flashy tenor banjo was Epiphone's top "popularly priced" model, costing an even $100 complete with case in the late 1920s. That was still quite a bit of money around 1927; a pearl-topped Martin 00-42 could be had for $110! It is built of attractive American walnut, with colored wood marquetry rings on the resonator edges and multiple holly wood laminations. This is set off with heavily plated hardware and a bound, pearl dot-and-diamond inlaid rosewood fingerboard. The headstock is faced in etched and painted Pearloid with an incised Epiphone logo and "Peerless" banner.

Compared to the more expensive "Recording Model" banjos ranked above it, the Peerless has a simpler tone ring, but is still of fairly massive archtop construction. "...a patented tone chamber is formed by means of a special tone ring that gives the Peerless a rich, vibrant and musical tone quality" was Epiphone's description. The rim, neck, and resonator are basically similar to the professional models, with a heavy single co-ordinator rod and one-piece flange. The tuners are the same "tabbed" geared Grover pegs as Gibson used at the time, the tailpiece a Waverly extension style with a hinged coverplate.

The 1928 Epiphone catalog claimed this model "Gives rare value for your money...can be played in any organization without apology". They weren't bragging either -- this Peerless easily holds its own both in sound and construction quality with many of the more expensive tenor banjos of this opulent era. While not as fancy as many high grade models from Epiphone and their competitors, this banjo is a fully professional instrument far superior to most "budget" tenors of the 1920s.
 
Overall length is 33 1/2 in. (85.1 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) diameter head, and 3 1/8 in. (7.9 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 23 in. (584 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/8 in. (29 mm.).

Overall this is a very clean and original banjo with just some light wear to show for 90+ years on the planet. The finish has light checking and small dings and scrapes but no major wear. Similarly the plating shows light wear and corrosion, most notably to the back edge of the armrest. The only alteration is a small hole at the bottom edge of the resonator, probably for a strap button.

All the hardware is original; the only change from the 1920s setup is a later plastic head. This is a good-playing and quite powerful-sounding tenor, substantial-feeling but not as heavy as the top-line Epiphones that were priced above it at the time. This is a great find for the working or serious student banjoist; really a pro-grade tenor banjo at a reasonable price, complete in an excellent original HSC with a new handle. Overall Excellent Condition.