Hi Richard, would it be possible to send me a better scan of the 1928 Clifford Essex Catalogue, page 9 (Boudoir Grand), as I have a 1910 version of one of these. It's a great banjo, in fine condition. The banjo has an interesting provenance, as the original owner actually played this banjo in the dance band on the SS Olympic, which, of course, was the sister ship of the ill-fated SS Titanic. I bought it of a friend of his about 15 years ago.
I will try to remember to do this for you, I have been very pressed for time just lately so may not be able to dig this material out of the pile for a while; if nothing happens remind me in a couple of weeks.
Peter, can you please describe the sound of the Boudoir Grand as compared to other Clifford Essex models? It seems to have an ebony "tone ring" which in theory should give the banjo extra resonance and a woody rather than metallic sound. But I've only seen and played one Boudoir Grand and it sounded quite ordinary. It was set up with steel strings and a three foot bridge though. And it also had no markings that said Boudoir Grand, but it had all the characteristics of that model. I've long been fascinated by this model, named for a piano! Thanks, Jody.
Shows a better photo of the hoop, which looks identical to my wood hoop special.. BUT my special also looks to have an ebony tone ring, but this is, in fact, just the maple wood painted black.
The peg head is a different shape and the MOP a slightly different design too.
The wood hoop does give a nice mellow (woody) sound.
I only really heard my wood hoop being played for the first time when Rob Murch popped in a few weeks ago. It sounds completely different when you are standing in front rather than sitting behind it :-)
It will be interesting to hear what Peter has to say, and how he has it set up too.
Ian is right ; the wood hoop is painted with black paint ; rosewood neck & beech hoop ( resewood ' covered inside & outside ) for the Boudoir . However , this for the late banjos from CE & sons ; & even for these productions , they could have been some exceptions , scalloped tension hoop on some boudoir ' banjos .
Prior to this , prior to 1920 , for my point of view , we do know nothing about the production because the banjos were from differents luthiers , experimental & anachronistic banjos ,
we could share our experiences & pictures to re discover the models
Marc is right, some early 'Specials' pre 1906 were made by Weaver, and are in all respects Weaver banjos, later models have none of the Weaver characterstics, the 'Imperial' model comes in various guises, but normally has a hoop similar to the one on Ian's 'Boudoir Grand' in the photograph. The 'Professional' model has some of the characteristics of the Weaver made banjos but of all of those which I have seen and owned, I do not think any were made by Weaver. Essex himself said that, in the early days, pre 1900, the demand for banjos was such that price was not a consideration with their customers and they got banjos from any reputable manufacturer who could supply them and merely put their own name on them. A lot of the early Essex & Cammeyer 'ordinary' banjos were imported Cole 'Eclipse' banjos, they planed the name and number off the perch pole and then restamped them, I have had several of these - sometimes a metal plate was pinned to the perch pole saying 'Made Expressly for Essex and Cammeyer' I suppose this was done where it was not possible to remove the original makers name.
Who said there was no tonering on a CE special ? ..... here 's a picture of an early ' one i have ( i believe made by Rich Spencer because of the similitude with some inlays i saw on Z _ Bjs ) ; The rim is painted black ; all is original and i think the luthier took his inspiration from the Washburn ' tonering system . the tonering you don 't see on the photo is the simple one , tubular like you could buy in the Stewart shop , but all steel and 10 7/8 . because this CE special is 10 7/8 . ....strange ; isn't it ?