(SOLD) Clifford Essex Regal 4-String Tenor Banjo 1938
Clifford Essex Regal 4-string banjo, made in England circa 1938, natural finish. Clifford Essex & Son were making banjos in London from 1893 through to 1942, dissolving amid war related labour and materials shortages, before re-launching in 1945 under a slightly altered name. They occupied their Shaftesbury Avenue worksop from 1936-42, and that's where this beauty was made. One look at the back is enough to inspire awe: that parquetry-esque eight-point star inlay, done by hand with tiny blocks of maple and ebony and some beautiful mahogany, is really quite something. The abalone fretboard and headstock inlays are also beautiful handcrafted details; the mind boggles when you start to calculate the hours required to produce something this detailed. The back is removable via a pair of pegs and slots, so you can inspect the inner workings with relative ease, including the Clifford label and stamped serial. At some point, a truss rod was installed and the neck and fretboard were refinished in gloss lacquer. The work is very tidy and looks to have been done many decades ago. The tone on offer is rich and full, with a generous low end presence and a singing midrange. The hardware is all in working order, so there's no playability hangups despite the age. This is a really lovely vintage piece, it's sure to be a treasured family heirloom for many decades to come.
Model: Clifford Essex Regal
Made: London England, 1938-9 (serial 412)
Finish: natural gloss
Body: rosewood ring, rosewood back with mahogany, maple and ebony inlay work
Neck: mahogany, rosewood fretboard
Mods: truss rod and skunk-stripe installed, neck and fretboard re-finished
Case: original vintage case, original purchase receipt from 1939 and some other docs and papers are included
Cosmetic condition notes: minor finish wear.The headstock has some dimples on the end and front, nothing nasty. The neck is clean and smooth in the hands, minor dimples on the back and some standard rub wear on the board only. Note the neck has been refinished, it's like the fretboard wouldn't have been a gloss finish originally. The back has a couple of minor dimples around the back, nothing nasty. The sides have minor scuffs around the whole body, most notable on the bottom edge, nothing too nasty though. The chrome has a few dimples and some fading but is in great shape overall. The head is intact and at tension, there's a bit of fading and some scuffs around the edges but it's in good functional order. Overall condition: very good condition (8/10)
Playing condition notes: Action is low, neck is straight, intonation is good, truss rod works. Frets have minor wear; 7/10 for fret life left. Wearing tenor banjo strings.