Beuatiful rare and vintage Windsor Zither Banjo Popular Model No.7. Whilst not dated, this instrument is built between 1887 and 1940. This model is able to be used as a 4 string tenor Banjo or a 5 string tenor Banjo due to the ingenious tunnel which runs through the neck and onto the 6 string headstock..what versatility!
The No.7 is a full Concert sized Banjo fitted with a Walnut neck, Rosewood body, square junction between rim and neck.
The Windsor Zither Banjo
From 1887 until the Birmingham factory was destroyed in 1940 in a German air-raid, the Castle Works Windsor company was the largest maker of fretted instruments in British history.
By 1887, Arthur Octavius Windsor had a small factory building Coffins and fabricating metal hardware. His off-time was spent pursuing his passion for banjos which he soon applied by opening a new factory, eventually employing 25 makers to build his ever expanding line of banjos and other fretted instruments.
He pioneered a style of wooden pot construction which he called Zither Construction. The metal rim, head and tension hoop assembly drops into this pot and the tailpiece was neatly inlayed into the wooden pot. A typical Windsor feature is the 5th string tunnel which eliminates the 5th string tuner on the neck typical of most banjos. Most Windsor banjos have 6 tuners: three per side though only 5 of those tuners are used — the 6th acting as a spare in the event of breakage.
A.O. Windsor was very skilled at self promotion and published a 50 page booklet on ‘How a Zither-Banjo Is Made’ in 1896 which secured Windsor instruments popularity as a Household name .
Unlike most banjo makers, Windsor fabricated all of their hardware fittings in their own workshop; all were non-standard insuring that customers would buy replacement fittings only from A.O. Windsor. He registered numerous patents on his developments.
The calfskin head diameter ranges from 8 inch to 9 inch on Windsor banjos so they are not ‘big’ sounding; perfect for quiet home playing – clawhammer or fingerstyle.
Workmanship is very good and the quality of the metal castings and machine work is a delight. They have slender necks with a V profile; no truss rod and are always slightly over-bowed by modern standards but I find they can easily be made playable well past the 12th fret position. This banjo makes an interesting historical addition to any collection.