There are several options for purchasing a tenor banjo. The most obvious route is going with a production model Gold Tone or Deering. These companies both make decent, relatively inexpensive entry-level models. Or you could try getting a vintage 1920’s Vega, Bacon & Day, Slingerland, Paramount or similar from a reputable dealer such as Vinnie Mondello, Bernunzio, Intermountain Guitar and Banjo or Spruce Tree Music. There are also at least two well known makers in Ireland – Clareen and Boyle – who specialize in tenor banjos.
However, I wanted to point out some North American banjo makers I’m aware of who either make or have made custom tenor banjos: Tommy George, Brooks Masten, Noel Booth and Jason Romero.
Tommy George makes fine, hand-crafted banjos in Somerville, Tennessee. Everything is crafted by hand using rasp, file, lathe, bandsaw and sanders. George Banjos offers over 50 years of building experience to create individual instruments that stand apart from the standard models produced by factories.
Brooks Masten of Brooks Banjos in Portland, Oregon is dedicated to old-world craftsmanship. Although he specializes in openback 5-string banjos, Brooks can make custom tenor banjos with his signature vintage look. His banjo shop is a one-man operation and each banjo gets the special attention it deserves.
Instrument builder Noel Booth of Old Fiddle Road Banjo Works designs and builds banjos made with a combination of traditional and unusual woods. He works out of a small shop in Balsam, North Carolina and can make you an original tenor banjo using a combination of historical and contemporary design.
Jason Romero makes his hand-built, finely crafted J. Romero Banjos in Horsefly, British Columbia. Jason's banjos are playable works of art -- ever changing and evolving with just enough innovation to provide a tasteful alternative. As with all the builders mentioned here, custom tenor banjo orders are welcome.
|J. Romero Tenor Banjo|
Oh, and if you get a custom banjo you will also eventually want a custom gig bag for it. I recommend Colorado Case or Glenn Cronkhite gig bags. Good luck!