When we think of the ideal banjo for Irish music, a tenor banjo with a percussive and harmonious “ring” is what comes to mind. It should enable the player to punctuate and drive the melody while keeping in tonal equanimity with the other instruments.

“Celtic” open-back tenor banjo with 12″ pot

To make this Irish banjo, we use our 19-fret tenor neck with a 12″ open-back pot and tune it, GDAE or CGDA. The longer scale of our 19-fret tenor necks allows the banjo to have a warmer tone with clearer treble than 17-fret tenors, and the 12″ pot with a simple tone ring gives a bigger and mellowerer sound with dry clarity to the notes. We set up the Irish banjo with a Renaissance head which sounds more natural and clean. Our Sweetone tailpiece is added for modest pressure to keep the strings taught and the notes clear and shrill-free.

John Carty, one of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians who tours with the re-formed super group, Patrick Street, has acquired a “Juniper” Irish tenor banjo and here is what he says about it:

“Having played and believed whole heartedly in vintage banjos all my life it was with some trepidation that I tried these brand new OME banjos. I was given a hand crafted instrument to try. The instrument had a 12 inch pot and I took to it immediately. It has the depth of tone I constantly look for, coupled with an extra sustain which is a particularly great quality for Irish banjo players as this allows our music to breathe. I found I didn’t need to be quite so busy in order to highlight the essence of the tunes. The ability of the instrument to sustain and lengthen the notes has given me a new zest for playing the banjo. Another characteristic I enjoy about it is its immediate efficiency, there’s no wrestling with it like with older instruments, it stays in tune and every note is true even the low A, B and C on the G string which is such a plus. Basically it is ready to play as soon as you take it out of the case and I think it has definitely improved my playing. I am so looking forward to gigging with this instrument.” 

These are limited production banjos sold by Mulroy Music in Co. Donegal, Ireland.
Here are the following specifications:

  • Available in “Celtic” and “Juniper” tenor models starting at $2995, case included
  • Mahogany with Rosewood (optional curly maple with satin finish  + $200 for open-back models and + $300 for resonator models)
  • Mother-of-Pearl and Abalone inlays
  • Hand-rubbed oil varnish finish
  • 19 frets with a scale of 22.125″
  • A graceful hand-carved neck with 1.22″ nut width
  • Nickel-plated solid brass hardware (optional raw brass)
  • Adjustable double rim rods
  • 12″ maple rim with rolled brass tone ring (optional 11″ rim)
  • Sweetone tailpiece, Renaissance head and hand-made bridge (optional wood arm rest + $75)
  • Optional Full Resonator + $495 (+ $200 for flange)

Hear Martha Stuart play The Old Pigeon On The Gate on her “Celtic” 12″ OB tenor tuned CGDA:

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Ome Banjos is happy to custom build these tenors as well. For more information please email us at: [email protected] or call 303.449.0041.