Bacon Professional FF 2 Guitar Banjo 1922 | $1450 | (v2145) Frederick J. Bacon was a banjo virtuoso who began playing professionally at age 16, and formed his own banjo business in the first decade of the 20th Century. Bacon was a perfectionist when it came to banjos, and his instruments are highly regarded by both players and collectors today. This particular example is a guitar-banjo and was manufactured at the Bacon shop in Groton, CT. It features the 1906 patented internal resonator with two f-hole cutouts, prized for its sound by many banjo enthusiasts.
The rim and tone chamber are made from laminated maple, the light maple set off by contrasting ebony purfling. The maple neck is carved in a 'C' shape with two thin ebony strips sandwiched down the middle and across the heel. The face plate is ebony veneer with Bacon embossed in white script. The fingerboard is ebony, bound in white celluloid and features a number of pearl position markers. The 'skin' banjo head is stamped 'Wm F. Ludwig' on the inside.
The head measures 11 5/8" across. Scale length is 23 1/2". The neck measures 1 9/16" across at the nut and string spacing is 1 7/8" across at the bridge. Action is set at about 6/64".
The brackets and nut appear to be original to the instrument. The tuners are old Waverly replacements and a portion of the nickel has flaked off. There are no evident repairs. There is a chip missing from the resonator at one of the f-holes and some shrinkage checks in the ply where the bracket shoes are inserted. The fingerboard and frets are divoted in the first position area, evidence that a previous owner really played this thing! A number of the hooks have lost their nickel plate due to corrosion. The finish is original, and shows a good bit of play wear on the back of the neck. The tailpiece is a 5-string 'no-knot' type replacement that was on the instrument.
The neck has a comfortable, tactile feel and the guitar banjo is fun to play. The unique Bacon tone chamber gives the piece a unique sound as well; loud and tubby at the point of attack with quick decay, and makes it a perfect choice for old ragtime picking.
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