I am the owner of this fabulous Clifford essex grand concert rosewood banjo . The precedent owner was a pretty good jazz musician named Barry Dew ; Barry was a a true Cockney - born and bred in London where he had a shop & fixed banjos . The old CE , which was converted to a 4 strings in this period is back to the nylon ' 5 strings .
Here 's a link with a vidéo of Barry :

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Comment by thereallyniceman on April 1, 2009 at 7:33
Marc, That is a beautiful banjo. Is it the weight of several bricks? I had a CE Paragon and couldn't lift it by myself ;)
Also does it sound as good as it looks strung with nylon for fingerstyle, as I have never heard one live?
Comment by marc dalmasso on April 1, 2009 at 19:57
yes because all these are with tonerings ; i play my last posted video with this CE ; i like the CE because there are oversized , in fact ; and me too ; 1 1/2 inches at the nut is perfect for me . Do you still have the paragon ?
Comment by thereallyniceman on April 2, 2009 at 8:22
Hi Marc, No I sold the Paragon a long time ago. It was a beautiful "top tension" model, but just too heavy and bulky. I sold it and bought a Weaver CE Professional 12". These are great banjos with plenty of bass due to the 12" hoop. I play an SS Stewart Special thoroughbred Style 4 (from the Tsumura collection)as my main banjo. 10.5" hoop and light. The action is a bit high but nice to play and not too loud. I watched your video but with crappy PC speakers it is dificult to hear the tone properly...it looks beautiful and I expect that it will sound the same as the Essex banjos are excellent instruments.
Comment by marc dalmasso on April 10, 2009 at 18:15
i took a look to your pictures , Ian ; all these are wonderful ; i suppose that , beeing in England , you should have no problem to find the best CE ; yet , may be there are all good ones ? i like these banjos because of the big neck ; i have a tubaphone # 3 ; but with the 1 1/8 at the nut , i t need is a special & precise playing for me ;this banjo feels good today may be because it was made in ...1929 ; anyway , this one came in France with a GI in 1944 ; then a local jazz musician converted it to a plectrum and now i am the new owner
Comment by marc dalmasso on June 2, 2009 at 5:21
Hi Tom ; no serial number or factory number on yours ? mapple or rosewood ? yes do not ever sell it ; there are extraordinary ; me too , i have not the original case but a calton case because the ex owner was an international musician , a case with lot of stickers from Germany to the US @+m
Comment by thereallyniceman on July 12, 2009 at 12:44
Hey Marc D,
Look what I bought today!!


Not a Concert Grand like yours, but a Special XX in superb condition

Happy day for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, where is my Simichrome????

Comment by marc dalmasso on July 13, 2009 at 19:47
" tu as le cul bordé de nouilles " ; that means you are really a lucky man , Ian , to buy this beautiful banjo at this ridiculous low price ; i guess the guy was in your local area , too ?
for the informations i found on the net , the special XX is exactly the same model that the concert grand , but older ; CE started to name these " special XX " , then they named " concert grand "
Why ? ; may be somebody could explain this to us ?
I said mine is a concert grand but there is no mention at all on the dowel stick , just the factory metal brand ; Why ? i dont know
Comment by thereallyniceman on July 14, 2009 at 7:11
Yes Marc. "My Ass IS surrounded by noodles"... :)

I checked Ebay at 8.00am on Sunday and saw the Special XX for £600 BUY IT NOW and no other bids! I didn't have to think very long and bought it immediately. It was being sold on behalf of someone who inherited it and had no interest in banjos and was only 30miles from me... so by 12.00 I was holding it in my hand. It looks like it has been in its case for 50 years, but the metalwork looks so good it could be new.

I have polished it and am fitting a new vellum. I will post a pic when it if back together.

I too have wondered why the Special XX became Concert Grand. Where is David Wade when you need him???

Ian, still smiling :))
Comment by Jody Stecher on July 14, 2009 at 14:47
Other banjo manufacturers had a Concert Grand, Grand Concert, or Grand Solo model. By changing the name from XX Special to Concert Grand Clifford Essex joined the club and removed confusion between the CE Special and XX Special in one swell foop. This is guesswork, not history. And it's based on logic, so it's probably wrong.
Comment by marc dalmasso on July 14, 2009 at 15:34
I like your explanation , Jody ; congratulations for Ian ; you are the authentic guy for beeing the new owner of this CE ; it must have been a bluegrass Bj picker ( new holes in the head , 5th string capo , inside mike with screws in the rim etc ...; )

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