Anyone know what the 20fret Clifford Essex Professional scale length is and did they make an 11 inch pot version?  I'm doing some 'looking-into' banjos with a shorter-scale than standard.

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Assuming that "standard" scale means somewhere between 26 and 27 inches, I don't think the Professional has a shorter scale than that. I have played 2 of these and liked them. I didn't think to measure the scale. 

The wide and deep pot was what made the Professional "professional". More volume, more power.  Anything is possible with CE (and with Gibson) but I don't think an 11 inch Professional would have been likely.

All of the above is nothing but "somewhat informed opinion".  Others here on this forum will be in possession of the facts and no doubt will speak up in due course.

The CE Professional was 12" hoop only, 19 frets and a scale length of approx 26 1/2"..

Weaver made 11" hoop,  20 fret banjos with a scale length of approx 26 1/4"

I prefer the 11" hoop as it feels much better on the knee and better on the picking hand height. Although the scale length is only a little less it feels less of a stretch too!

Thanks Ian - that's exactly what I wanted to know!  The Weaver definitely sounds more comfortable.



thereallyniceman said:

The CE Professional was 12" hoop only, 19 frets and a scale length of approx 26 1/2"..

Weaver made 11" hoop,  20 fret banjos with a scale length of approx 26 1/4"

I prefer the 11" hoop as it feels much better on the knee and better on the picking hand height. Although the scale length is only a little less it feels less of a stretch too!

Thanks Jody - my idea of standard is 26 1/2 to 27.  There is so much variation in scale length amongst vintage banjos - I've seen banjos with 18 frets but with standard scale length.  Interested in any recommendations for banjos which might be worth investigating in terms of comfort.  Over the past year or so I have been getting arthritis flare-ups, alas.   I do like the sound of the Eastman whyte ladie (Paul Draper and Joel Hooks videos here) but haven't had the opportunity to try one yet.  I'm also trying to adjust things with my Griffin A scale - trying new bridges etc - but am not sure a 10 inch pot is for me.



Jody Stecher said:

Assuming that "standard" scale means somewhere between 26 and 27 inches, I don't think the Professional has a shorter scale than that. I have played 2 of these and liked them. I didn't think to measure the scale. 

The wide and deep pot was what made the Professional "professional". More volume, more power.  Anything is possible with CE (and with Gibson) but I don't think an 11 inch Professional would have been likely.

All of the above is nothing but "somewhat informed opinion".  Others here on this forum will be in possession of the facts and no doubt will speak up in due course.

Hi Carrie, according to the CE catalog and various issues of the BMG (and the few examples I have seen), the Professional was 12" by 26.5" standard.  It was a rather short lived model, being introduced sometime after 1920 and ceasing before WW2 (like all CE banjo models).

As with anything there are exceptions and I believe I have seen one example marked Professional that had a one piece neck and longer scale.  I did not see it in person so I do not know if it had been altered.

The Metal Hoop Special was the 11" clad rim model that I would call the Professional a larger version of.  First built by Weaver, later not,  I have one of the not Weaver versions and I absolutely love it.  I believe that these were offered in several sizes early on (10.5", 11", 11.5", and 12").

I cannot speak to the Weaver built versions but I believe that CE settled in on a standard 26.5" scale for all their models. 

Professionals need to be seen and held to behold their massiveness.  On mine the neck could be described as huge.  Everything about it is thick and heavy.  The finish is heavy,  the wood is heavy, the hardware is thick and heavy, the rim is the size of a washtub.  Additionally they are reinforced with screws.  The fingerboard is both glued and screwed on (screws hidden under the inlay) and there is a huge brass screw though the heel to reinforce the dowel. 

CE should have called it the "Industrial"!

I like mine enough that I will not let it go.  But I have to be in a certain mood to play it.  It is a bit on the tubby muddy side even with the plastic head cranked down.  Mine is in regular rotation but I tend to reach for my Metal Hoop Special or Concert Grand first.

Oh, and the head is not 12".  I had to custom order a 12-3/16" head from Remo and it took about 4 or 5 months to get.  Hide or "vellum" is fine but avoid goat or any stretchy skin it has to be hard.  I got mine with a head that felt like a balloon.  The more I tightened the more it stretched and it would not get tight.

It has been mentioned before that the nuts used on Professionals are square.  I think this was a design choice.  I can only guess but I think this banjo was marketed to directly compete with Weaver and they wanted to give a "Weaver" experience without all the shoddy finish work.  Also, many professional banjoists played 12" Weavers so why not call it a "Professional"?  that said, they are not at all like any of the half dozen Weaver banjos I have played.  It is a very different banjo.

Are they overbuilt?-- yeah, I'd say so.  Eli Kaufman describes them as "lunky".

If they had gone with a 27.5" or 28" scale these would be killer banjos.

Thanks Joel.  'The Industrial' - I like that.  The Professional sounds like it may not suit everyone - its probably too beefy for me! Yes, I have a CE Special metal clad one - great banjo.  It has that dry sound and kicks out a lot of volume.

Joel Hooks said:

Hi Carrie, according to the CE catalog and various issues of the BMG (and the few examples I have seen), the Professional was 12" by 26.5" standard.  It was a rather short lived model, being introduced sometime after 1920 and ceasing before WW2 (like all CE banjo models).

As with anything there are exceptions and I believe I have seen one example marked Professional that had a one piece neck and longer scale.  I did not see it in person so I do not know if it had been altered.

The Metal Hoop Special was the 11" clad rim model that I would call the Professional a larger version of.  First built by Weaver, later not,  I have one of the not Weaver versions and I absolutely love it.  I believe that these were offered in several sizes early on (10.5", 11", 11.5", and 12").

I cannot speak to the Weaver built versions but I believe that CE settled in on a standard 26.5" scale for all their models. 

Professionals need to be seen and held to behold their massiveness.  On mine the neck could be described as huge.  Everything about it is thick and heavy.  The finish is heavy,  the wood is heavy, the hardware is thick and heavy, the rim is the size of a washtub.  Additionally they are reinforced with screws.  The fingerboard is both glued and screwed on (screws hidden under the inlay) and there is a huge brass screw though the heel to reinforce the dowel. 

CE should have called it the "Industrial"!

I like mine enough that I will not let it go.  But I have to be in a certain mood to play it.  It is a bit on the tubby muddy side even with the plastic head cranked down.  Mine is in regular rotation but I tend to reach for my Metal Hoop Special or Concert Grand first.

Oh, and the head is not 12".  I had to custom order a 12-3/16" head from Remo and it took about 4 or 5 months to get.  Hide or "vellum" is fine but avoid goat or any stretchy skin it has to be hard.  I got mine with a head that felt like a balloon.  The more I tightened the more it stretched and it would not get tight.

It has been mentioned before that the nuts used on Professionals are square.  I think this was a design choice.  I can only guess but I think this banjo was marketed to directly compete with Weaver and they wanted to give a "Weaver" experience without all the shoddy finish work.  Also, many professional banjoists played 12" Weavers so why not call it a "Professional"?  that said, they are not at all like any of the half dozen Weaver banjos I have played.  It is a very different banjo.

Are they overbuilt?-- yeah, I'd say so.  Eli Kaufman describes them as "lunky".

If they had gone with a 27.5" or 28" scale these would be killer banjos.

A couple of comments:

The Professional sounds very good with steel strings; it certainly can hold up to the extra tension.  Also this is not the only CE model with screws and nails embedded in wooden parts. My Imperial had a big ol' metal cylinder in the heel, making it (initially) inexplicably hard to separate pot from neck. I don't think it had fingerboard screws!  I wonder if extra metal in the neck has an effect on the sound.

I think I have posted this photo before.  This is Eli Kaufman holding my Professional up to his Vega Regent.  It gives a good idea of the massiveness.

A CE "Industrial Banjo"...now I have to have one!

I like the big banjos. 12" or larger is my preference. I have two Stewart Imperial Banjeaurines, one is complete and playing, the other is an orphan pot assembly. I plan on putting a nice full-size neck on it eventually. I think they qualify as "industrial" too.

Marc, I have a CE convex resonator that fits this thing.  It needs some work (and perhaps some cleats) before I would trust it to normal use.  It makes this thing ridiculous.  I can only imagine some 5' 2" British guy trying to play one in the 1920s.

Probably makes it too thick to play comfortably too. I have a custom built 12" Gibson-style pot with a Z-B neck that is just miserable with the resonator on. It is fine with it off though.

In case anyone is interested, there is Professional for sale of Gumtree UK (this has been on before): https://www.gumtree.com/p/banjos/clifford-essex-professional-no-147...

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