Silver Bell Tenor Banjo
B&D Montana #1
© Frank Ford, 2000; Photos by FF
"Montana" was a jazz banjo star. He'd appear on stage with cowboy hat, fancy shirt, chaps - the whole deal. His celebrity line of celluloid encrusted Silver Bell Banjos were some of the most flambouyant in the Bacon and Day catalog of the 1920s. Even the plainest one, shown here, is bright enough to show up clearly to the audience way in the back of the hall.
Covered in ivory grained celluloid (ivoroid) engraved and painted, this is a real professional banjo, ready to cut through the horns and drive the rhythm of any jazz band. It's an early model with the fingerboard cantilevered over the head to add a couple of extra frets. Later ones had the fingerboard flush with the surface of the head, allowing a bit of extra downward pressure from the string tension, and therefore a brighter sound. The white wood of the neck is holly, chosen because of its uniformity of color and bland grain pattern, or lack thereof.
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