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Ludwig Bellevue Model Tenor Banjo, c. 1926, made in Chicago, natural lacquer finish, walnut neck and resonator, ebony fingerboard, brass rim, black tolex original hard shell case.
A beautiful example of Ludwig's mid 1920's craftsmanship, the Bellevue occupied the middle of the Chicago company's banjo line but is an extremely ornate banjo. The engraved hardware is gold plated over a gunmetal rim, an unusual color scheme specific to this banjo. As with all higher-quality Ludwigs, the neck and resonator are figured walnut which Chas. McNeil (Ludwig's resident banjo consultant) considered the "only" wood suitable. Neck is bound and features numerous maple and ebony laminates both horizontally and vertically, with very fancy pearl inlay in the ebony board and ebony veneered headstock with engraved inlay and script logo. Tuners are gold-plated Planets.
Resonator edges are multi-laminate as well, and decorative rings are inlayed in the back. Hoop and rim engraved with floral designs, tailpiece engraved "Ludwig USA". Fitted with the Luwig banjo action adjustor, two screws at the base of the neck and an original head heat/lighting assembly which consists of two Christmas-style bulbs wired to the dowel stick! These early bottom-tension metal rim Ludwigs are very high-quality banjos, much rarer than the later (post 1927) top-tension versions, and feature all brass parts (no pot metal pieces). In terms of dollar value at the time, Ludwig offered a lot of flash and sound for the money…and that is still true now!
Overall length is 34 in. (86.4 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) diameter of rim, and 3 1/4 in. (8.2 cm.) deep. Scale length is 23 in. (584 mm.). Extremely fine original condition.
Minor finish scratching and plating loss.
This banjo plays perfectly and has a very good sound, particularly for a metal-rim instrument.
Original case needs a new handle. This is a great players banjo!