Museum: Banjos

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1931 Epiphone Alhambra Recording Model Tenor Banjo

Serial # 7639. Among the most alluring and dramatic looking banjos to grace the walls of Folkway Music, this Epiphone Alhambra Recording Model tenor banjo was made in 1931 under the watchful guidance of Epaminondas "Epi" Stathopoulos in the original "House of Stathopoulos" factory in Long Island NY.

Built during the zenith of the tenor banjo's use in professional jazz band ensembles (before it was replaced as a rhythm instrument by the modern archtop guitar), we can imagine this instrument serenading listeners in dance halls and speakeasies with Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue". In actuality, this instrument WAS owned by a professional Canadian musician who purchased it in Detroit Michigan in 1931. The ephemera from its original purchase are included (as are the official stamps on the inside of the resonator, care of a friendly 1930's servant of the Canadian Customs and Excise Department in Windsor, Ontario).

With its meticulously engraved yellow pearloid fretboard and headstock, laminated walnut neck, green pearloid resonator, gold sparkle purfling, engraved Grover tailpiece and fine silver plating (yes silver and NOT nickel) it is hard to believe some eighty-plus years later that the Alhambra was a lower-end offering of Epiphone's Recording Model line-up! This would make an excellent instrument for a Dixieland Jazz player or a practiced Irish traditional musician.

In original condition save for a new Renaissance head and nicely fit new bridge. The banjo was brought to us by the niece of the original owner; it had been meticulously cared for throughout time. 23" scale length, 1-1/8" nut width. Set-up is beautiful, frets and fingerboard are in excellent condition. The renaissance head sounds lovely, adding a little roundness and warmth to a traditionally very bright instrument.

With original hardshell case and ephemera

This one-owner instrument spent it's life with Harry (Hank) Moon. Check out the two photos included from the days that he had his dance band in the 1930's. (courtesy of his niece)

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