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Bacon & Day Silver Bell #1 Model Tenor Banjo (1938), made in Groton CT, serial # 28762, shaded maple finish, laminated maple neck, rim and resonator; ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.
This banjo is a fairly late example of the iconic Silver Bell #1 Tenor banjo, the most basic model in Bacon's high-end professional B&D line. That's not saying it's a plain banjo-on the contrary the upper-end Silver Bells were both the fanciest and most expensive (for the period) banjos ever built. This #1 is still a very flashy instrument retailing originally at $140.00. By the late 1930's the tenor banjo was no longer as fashionable an instrument, having been largely replaced by the guitar in dance bands, so the Silver Bells of this period are far less common than 1920's examples.
The proprietary low flange has the familiar F-hole shaped cuts but is double-stepped in the "Symphonie" pattern, something that came into use in the early 1930's. The resonator back is beautifully figured flame maple, bound in black celluloid but with the metal "SilverBell" nameplate. The laminated flame maple neck is a very thin profile and has delicate shaped pearl inlays in the bound ebony fingerboard. The headstock (both front and back) has yellow pearloid covering, with the elaborate painted engraving on the face. The Silver Bell series were among the finest banjos ever built, and despite some hard use this is a lovely and fine playing example.
Overall length is 33 5/8 in. (85.4 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) diameter head, and 4 in. (10.2 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.). This is a good playing Silver Bell, well used but still complately solid. The original hardware is present including the armrest, Grover tuners and the adjustable Oettinger tailpiece. The mute assembly is the only missing component. Finish has some fairly heavy wear overall; the back odf the resonator has quite a bit of lacquer worn down to the wood and the neck also shows loss from play wear and some small chips around the heel. Despite some visible wear to the frets and fingerboard the banjo remains a fine player with the typically excellent sound; this is an extremely fine 4-string banjo for jazz, Irish stylings or just about anything! Very Good + Condition.
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