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Some instruments are lauded for their inherent musical virtues (think Gibson Mastertone banjos). Others for their intrinsic aesthetic appeal (Gretsch White Falcons fit this category). Finally, there is the category perhaps best described as “evocative.” This Kay U.S. Tenor Banjo is evocative.
As you no doubt gathered from the headstock, this is a wartime instrument. We can only imagine U.S. servicemen frailing away on this colorful banjo while on leave, perhaps accompanied by a guitar and harmonica. The sound is a bit raw, ideal for vintage string-band settings or for old-timey parlor-song accompaniment. Extending through the rim is a reinforcing steel rod which is attached to a nut on the neck. Consequently, adjusting the action is a breeze, regardless of your location.
Birch rim, mahogany neck and resonator, tension hoop and flange fashioned from pot metal. The tuners are replacements—no doubt the original Klusons were put out to pasture after years of faithful service. Ships in original case, which we would describe as solid but slightly worn aesthetically. Thanks to Michael Wright for his article, “The Kay U.S. Tenor Banjo,” in the January 2013 issue of Vintage Guitar magazine, which provided valuable context about this evocative instrument. $450