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Paramount Style A 5 String Resonator Banjo (1924)
Paramount Style A Model 5 String Resonator Banjo (1924), made in New York City, serial # 2485, natural varnish finish, laminated maple neck and rim, rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.
This is one of the rarer banjos we have seen in a while-an all-original 5-STRING Paramount. While William Lang'e West 24th Street factory turned out thousands of high-grade Paramount brand banjos throughout the 1920's, only a miniscule proportion were in the then old-fashioned 5-string format. The Tenor banjo was by far the most popular "modern" style, followed by the long-neck Plectrum-both of which were commonly used in dance bands and orchestras. The 8-string mandolin banjo and 6-string Guitar banjo were offered as well but used different rim sizes, so were also custom order items. This 5-string Style A is built on the standard size pot so only a custom neck was required, but it still was a very seldom-requested item.
Paramount's Style A was the lowest-priced instrument in the company's "letter series" line retailing at $130.00; in the early 1920's this was still a very expensive banjo by most standards! William Lange's Paramount line basically set the pattern for the 'modern' 1920's resonator-and-flange tenor banjo and were the most popular professional banjos of the 1920's along with Vega's Vegaphone line, introduced not long after. Tenor and plectrum versions banjos were the lynchpin of the rhythm section of every jazz and dance band in the country, as well as a featured soloist's instrument. The "original" 5-string banjo would have been considered a solo or small combo instrument for someone playing in the older Vaudeville or Minstrel style - the use of expensive resonator banjos in "hillbilly' radio bands was still years in the future.
Apart from its long neck with a 5th string peg this Style A has all the regular features typical of earlier Paramounts, including the original milled-case figure-8 Page geared tuners, engraved adjustable Paramount patent tailpiece and the company's original bent metal armrest. The neck and rim feature all-maple construction with rosewood-bound edges. The neck is faced with a rosewood fingerboard with notched diamond pearl inlay, marquetry under the board and a particularly fancy and attractive pearl-inlaid peghead design. This Style A is a medium-fancy banjo for the times, but the sound is equal to the best Paramounts. This is a superb example of this highly unusual and over 90 year old banjo. We have only heard of a handful of 5-string Paramounts ever surfacing, and this is a delightful instrument to play with a bright and powerful sound.
Overall length is 38 1/4 in. (97.2 cm.), 11 1/8 in. (28.3 cm.) diameter head, and 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm.) deep. Scale length is 27 in. (686 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/8 in. (29 mm.). This banjo shows some general play were but remains in very fine original condition overall with no alterations or major repair. There is wear through the thin varnish finish to the wood on the spine of the neck, heel and lower side of the resonator, and some light dings and scuffs overall. The plating shows some light wear and corrosion, with the heaviest being to the armrest. The frets are in good condition, and the banjo plays very well. A super cool 1920's banjo rarity and a unique find in a (well0 pre WWII resonator 5-string. Generally Excellent Condition.
Item # 4338
This item has been sold.
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