A classic British 5-string banjo
1912 Essex Concert Grand

© Frank Ford, 1999; Photos by FF

A "Whyte Laydie on steroids" - that's what this banjo's owner calls it. He's right, too. Clearly adapted directly from the famous Fairbanks-Vega Whyte Laydie, this English banjo is a bit more substantial in every area. The neck is a bit wider, the shell is a little thicker, the bracket band, tonering, and tension hoop are a heavier, and even the tailpiece is more robust. But, this is no clunky banjo. To quote its owner again, "I bought it at Lundberg's in Berkeley and chose it over a couple of original Whyte Laydies because it sounded better."

Please click the small image

Other Clifford Essex banjos I've seen have also had the curious blank "shield" peghead inlay. I presume an owner's name might be an optional engraving there.

I'm particularly fond of the nicely fluted or scalloped tension hoop, a detail common to other Essex models. I also like the tailpiece, mounted to the tension hoop, and adjustable in height.

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