View Full Version : 1920s CF Martin Tenor Banjo

Feb-06-2017, 12:09pm
I’m a member of the Mandolin Café and posted this on their forum.Thought I’d go ahead and duplicate it on BC.

Until I encountered this one, I had never held a CF Martin Tenor banjo.

Per “Martin Guitars, A History” by Mike Longworth, Martin made tenor banjosonly during the 1920s. A total of 96 were sold between March of 1923 and July1926. They were not in any catalogs and were only mentioned in the 1924 pricelist. Martin used patent rights from Walter Grover (the father of GroverMusical Products), who also provided the primary metal components.

Martin Tenor banjos apparently do not have much monetary value – exceptmaybe to a collector, and even then, they wouldn’t command much. The owner ofthis banjo understood that and priced it accordingly and, in my opinion, fairly.I think it’s a fun instrument and an interesting piece of CF Martin history. So I bought it.

Based on a few comments on various forums, it appears that there arequite a few folks who are unaware that CF Martin made banjos in the 1920s. So Idecided to share some photos and some details of this recent acquisition.

This banjo remains as I acquired it. It remains dusty. The hardwaresports some tarnish. The strings don’t appear to have been changed for a fewdecades. The number one string tuner was replaced at some point with anincorrect but period-correct tuner. The Presto tailpiece cover is missing. Theprevious owner put a Remo batter drum head on it. Otherwise it appears to be inVery Good + condition with only minimal play wear. I have not seen a serialnumber and I have not disassembled it to determine if one is hidden.

The luthier that I use agrees with my plan to bring it back to “somewhatoriginal” playing condition. We’ll tryto find a correct tuner and tailpiece cover. We’ll install a more suitablehead, but not necessarily skin. And we’ll leave the current patina and wear asis. There is no case; it’s a toss-up as to whether I’ll look for aperiod-correct case or find a modern one.

And, no, I’m not going to sell it.

CF Martin No. 1 Tenor Banjo
Circa 1923 – 1926

17 Fret
12.5”diameter Maple rim; 1.75” high; 0.75” width
Ebony cap onback of rim
Side hole sound ports
11” headdiameter
Tensionhooks go through the rim
Tension nutsrecessed into back of rim
Grover metalresonator plate (“hub cap”); inserted from top
24 brackets
19” Mapleneck
17 fret rosewoodfingerboard
MOP positiondots on 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 (double dot at 12)
White side positiondots at 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 15
Rosewoodfaceplate on peg head
C. F. Martinlogo stamped on back of peg head.
Grover Patent Presto tailpiece
Grover tuners
Weight: 6.25 lbs.
Overall length: 30.5”