Ca. 1928 Leedy Senator

 

By the mid-1920s, it was common for cheaper banjos to feature nickel hardware and more expensive models to feature gold. Various manufacturers came up with different ways of decorating mid-priced models: Epiphone, Paramount and Ludwig offered silver plate on some instruments, but this unfortunately required frequent polishing to prevent tarnish from building up. Alternatively, Vega, Ludwig (on different models), and Leedy mixed gold and nickel hardware.

Leedy’s Senator model tenor and plectrum banjos listed for $125. At first glance it appears quite similar to the $200 Amphion, but there are a few key differences: the Senator did not have a carved heel, not all of its hardware was gold, and it featured silver sparkle instead of gold sparkle Pyralin veneers. Well, nominally it was silver sparkle– though personally, I would call the Senator “gold” and the Amphion “orange”. The color of the Pyralin probably didn’t have any impact on the production cost – the same amount was used and the engraving was fairly similar on the two models – but the lack of a carved heel, the lack of a mute, and the nickel plate on some hardware explained the $75 difference in list price.

The tension hoop, flange and lugs were finished in “Nobby Gold”, while the rim itself was finished in satin nickel – “a most striking combination”, according to the catalog. The tuners were nickel, and the neck lacked the colored strips along the center stripe that decorated more expensive models. Still, the banjo was quite eye-catching and the top-tension construction was the same as the rest of the Leedy line. As with all the company’s other models, the neck was made of walnut but a curly maple neck was available by special order.

 

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