Repair Shop Spot: Vogue Tenor Banjo TLC


What better instrument to learn on that the very one your own father used to play? This past month Mass Street Music luthier Mike Runyon resuscitated this beautiful 20s tenor banjo for customer Steve Griffeth.

Vogue Tenor Banjo

The banjo


celluloid fake mother of pearl fretboard on a Vogue Banjo

The celluloid on the fretboard & headstock has a faux Mother of Pearl look – also known as ‘mother of toilet seat’. Really.


Vogue Tenor Banjo Resonator

The beautiful resonator on the back of the Vogue Tenor banjo

Steve recently received the banjo from his dad, 91, who learned to play from Steve’s grandfather – though Steve said, “Dad has a tin ear.” Steve doesn’t play – yet – but is very excited to learn, which is why he brought the instrument to us for repair in the first place.

Steve Griffeth's dad, uncle and grandad playing music

Steve’s dad (L) with the Vogue, his uncle (M) and granddad (R) throwing down on a tune


family photo banjo playing in banjo case

The original case still held a ’20s banjo instruction book, opened to the page on Syncopation – click on the photo for a closer look

When he brought the Vogue tenor in, it was pretty sound structurally, but needed some cosmetic repair and TLC. The logo on the headstock had a few pieces broken off as well.

Restored headstock Vogue Banjo logo

Steve still had the pieces of the headstock logo, so Mike was able to restore it. Beautiful!

“Luckily he saved the pieces” Mike said, so a full repair was done.

Mike then just cleaned the banjo and resonator up, retensioned the head, gave it a new set of strings and set it up. It now plays like a dream. Steve’s dad doesn’t yet know he has had the banjo repaired – it’ll be a nice surprise.

Steve G with luthier Mike Runyon and Vogue Tenor Banjo

Mike R (L) and Steve G with his newly TLC’d Vogue Tenor






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