JUST AVAILABLE - 22/11/2019 - Selling on commission for a customer.
Update - 14/01/2020 - Sold to & collected by a buyer from Derbyshire!
Clareen Banjos was established in Galway at the end of the 1970s by Tom Cussen. Tom has also played tenor banjo in one of Ireland's leading Traditional Irish Music bands, Shaskeen, since the early '70s.
The "Special" is the original Banjo of the Clareen Banjos range. The Clareen website details continue to say that Special is the most popular...."an excellent Tenor banjo with a crisp tone. The two piece neck of well selected maple has a contrasting mahogany centre strip for stability and appearance. All the wood is finished in its natural colour as is the resonator and maple rim."
Now sold new in England by Eagle Music in Huddersfield, on their website the intro to the model reads...."Hand Built in Galway, Ireland by Tom Cussen. The Original flagship Clareen banjo model...The Clareen Special 19 fret maple tenor banjo with bell brass arch-top tone ring."
Stock Number: VTGC1059.
The Banjo has just been inspected, overhauled, adjusted & re-strung in conjunction with Colin Keefe the professional luthier I work with.
Brief Main Specification points from the current details for the Special model on the Clareen website.
Maple Neck * Rosewood Fingerboard and Peghead * Clareen Shamrock & Dot Mother of Pearl Inlay * Maple Pot * Clareen Special Tone Ring * Clareen Grooved Tension Band * Waverly Style Tailpiece * Brass Nickel Plated Armrest * Maple Resonator with Tortoise Binding
......plus, extracts from the current Model Description section on the Eagle Music website.....
Standard Scale 19 fret, 23 inches/585mm. * Standard Neck Width at Nut - 30mm. * Clareen Banjos manufactures it's own Tone Rings and Tension Bands * All other Metalware is manufactured in Ireland where possible * The neck is fitted with Carbon Fibre Truss Rod for added strength * All metal parts are of brass which have been nickel plated * The hooks are of mild steel which is also nickel plated * Suitable for all tuning styles.
The "Special" has just been overhauled & professionally inspected by Colin Keefe, luthier of Long Eaton, and is in good shape, having been in the hands of it's one lady owner, and gigging player since new, but has not been heavily used. It is only being sold on to finance the purchase of a new 17" scale open-back tenor, which the customer now finds more akin to her requirements. As per the details below, new strings have now been fitted, after gently dressing the frets to ensure comfortable playing. Only very slight, localised play wear noted to the frets.
The 12th. fret action is good, at around 2mm./2.5mm.
The Banjo has been re-strung with Eagle-Puretone Irish Tenor Banjo String Set Light Medium Brian McGrath Custom 11, 17w, 26w, 36w - Type = Nickel Loop....
.....these seem to be a happy compromise, between the strings which were on it, which were Light gauge for Irish GDAE Tuning, with only 2 wound strings, whereas this set includes the third would string....still a shade lighter than the dedicated Eagle-Puretone set I use for Tenor Guitar in GDAE on the same 23" scale.
The well padded black Gig Bag shown in the photos is included.
**** TUNING ****
An extract from the Deering Banjo Blog - https://blog.deeringbanjos.com/irish-tenor-banjo
HOW TO TUNE THE IRISH TENOR BANJO
This last point is probably the easiest one to say is the most common. Here, we are deciding between the standard tenor banjo tuning of C, G, D, A or the Irish tenor banjo tuning of G, D, A, E. Both of these tunings are tuned if fifths, just like the classical string family is. The standard tenor banjo tuning is exactly the same as the viola and the Irish tenor banjo tuning is exactly the same as a violin/mandolin, but an octave below.
The Irish tenor tuning (G, D, A, E) today is the standard and uses a special set of Irish tenor banjo strings. The famous Irish banjo player Barney McKenna is most often credited with making this tuning popular. This tuning makes sense since Irish players are playing a lot of fiddle tunes, and it being the same tuning as a fiddle (but an octave below) makes the tunes layout on the fingerboard much better. It also would give you the same range (an octave below) so every note played on the fiddle is available in this tuning.
Standard tenor tuning (C, G, D, A) will give the banjo a brighter tone because it is higher pitched and there is more tension on the strings. Before Barney McKenna made the Irish tenor tuning popular, this was the standard tuning used. Personally, I do not know any Irish tenor banjo players that use this tuning. This tuning is the standard tuning when playing jazz.