Weymann Orchestra Style 4 Tenor Banjo (1924)

Weymann  Orchestra Style 4 Tenor Banjo  (1924)
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Item # 9401
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Weymann Orchestra Style 4 Model Tenor Banjo (1924), made in Philadelphia, PA, serial # 35881, natural varnish finish, rosewood neck, rim and resonator; ebonized fingerboard, black hard shell case.

This Style 4 Orchestra Model was one of the top-end offerings in Weymann's 1920's "Megaphonic" professional banjo line, some of the most elegant of all 1920s banjo designs. This superbly high quality instrument retailed originally in 1924 at $320.00; a Ford model T runabout that same year was $265! Like most Weymann banjos, this is an extremely finely made instrument with the company's customary attention to detail evident everywhere. This is an early-pattern Style 4 from the first year or so of production.

The Megaphonic line feature many unique features, most notably a patented wood rim with the hooks running through it, eliminating the metal bracket shoes and attendant hardware. It is capped with a heavy solid archtop tone ring. The inner surface of the rim is angled backwards like a megaphone (hence the name) and the inside of the resonator is carved in a cupped pattern, supposedly to focus the sound unimpeded by sharp angle traps.

The Style 4 is a VERY fancy banjo, even by the standards of the day. Made primarily of Indian rosewood, it is somewhat more tasteful than many competitors with a lack of pearloid or other overtly gaudy touches. The neck is laminated from solid rosewood with multiple colored wood laminations in the center and underlaying the fingerboard. The triple-bound fingerboard is inlaid with fancy shaped pearl pieces in a continuous vine pattern, with small brass dots as position markers. The headstock overlay carries a "Weymann" logo of inlaid pearl letters with an elaborate floral design, and there is a gold "Weymann Keystone State" decal on the back. It mounts the earliest version of the company's elegant patented recessed tuning pegs. The heel is carved in a floral pattern.

All hardware is gold-plated and the hoop, tone ring sheath, and tailpiece heavily engraved. The rim and resonator are solid rosewood with multiple binding and half-herringbone wood marquetry on every edge. The rim top has inlaid pearl in a floral pattern. There is a natural ebony armrest mounted to the hoop, another stylish unique Weymann feature.

This early banjo does not have the metal flange capping the resonator top rim, a feature added to later Megaphonic models. The resonator is held by heavy spring clips and pops off easily, by far the neatest and most convenient of all such systems. There is a heavy adjusting bracket mounted under the dowel which allows limited adjustment of the neck angle, another Weymann innovation. This is simply a great sounding and superbly classy tenor banjo, a fantastic top-line instrument in the 1920s or today!
Overall length is 34 in. (86.4 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) diameter head, and 3 7/16 in. (8.7 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 22 in. (559 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/8 in. (29 mm.).

This banjo has seen some use over the decades and shows some general wear, but remains in fine playing original condition. The gold plating shows some fairly heavy wear; the hoop, hooks, tuners and tailpiece are down to the metal in many spots but have a lovely aged patina. The finish overall is not too heavily worn. The thin varnish finish has minor wear overall; the resonator back has some scuffing and several small lamination cracks but nothing too serious.

The back of the neck is fairly well preserved with some wear to the wood in the lower positions but virtually no dings or dents. The frets and fingerboard show some divoting under the unwound strings in the lower positions but not enough to affect playability. The banjo is set up with a period (Possibly original) Rogers Union Brand skin head and later Grover bridge, it plays well and sounds great, very powerful but not as brash as many tenors. Simply a superb instrument, still in the original zipper-lined HSC Very Good + Condition.