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NMM 14351.  Tenor banjo by Ludwig & Ludwig, Chicago, ca. 1925-1933.
Kingston model. Serial number 11501.
Gift of John McNeill, Springfield, South Dakota, 2008.

Portrait of banjo

The Ludwig Kingston tenor banjo was a high-quality instrument marketed at a low price for both students and professionals. While the functional parts of the instrument incorporated Ludwig innovations, the inlay was imitation mother-of-pearl celluloid. Decals, rather than inlay, were used to decorate the resonator.

The Kingston model originally sold for $75 and was described in Ludwig & Ludwig's 1927 catalog as follows:

"Banjoists have long sought for a less expensive instrument that measured up to the professional requirements in the modern orchestra. They wanted tonal beauty, accuracy of scale and attractive display.

Yet the price had to be low enough for the fellow who could not afford a big outlay in money. Many students and beginners want an instrument that will carry them through the learning period and still be able to use it in their orchestra work without fear or favor.

They want a banjo that will travel in the best professional company.

That is what the Ludwig KINGSTON or the KENMORE [the lower-pitched, four-string plectrum banjo] will do.

The banjo teacher can recommend it. He can use it. Either model will make an excellent “double” for use in the studio or as an extra jobbing instrument.

They have the ideal banjo tone—they possess carrying power—they are accurate in scale – and they are built to stand up."

Note:  Click on any picture on this page to see an enlargement.


Inlaid in cursive, imitation mother-of-pearl celluloid, on headstock: Ludwig

Stamped on tailpiece: [flower] / Ludwig / USA / [flower]

Painted in black on inlaid, imitation, mother-of-pearl celluloid scroll, on headstock: KINGSTON

Stamped on resonator flange: 11501 / PAT[illegible]END.

Stamped on metal base of tuners: [image of Saturn] • Planet • [image of Saturn] • PAT. • PEND.

Front, Back, and Side Views

Front of banjo Bass side of banjo Treble side of banjo Back of banjo

Finish: clear lacquer; ivory, red, green, tan, and black geometric decal along sides of resonator and ivory, red, green, tan, and black geometric and floral decal around center of resonator back.

Front, Back, and Side Views of Peghead

Front of peghead
Bass side of peghead
Treble side of peghead
Back of peghead

Peghead: integral with neck; Spanish cedar or mahogany; black-stained birch veneer. Inlay: two inlaid, imitation mother-of-pearl celluloid geometric figures with black-painted detail; inlaid, imitation mother-of-pearl celluloid scroll painted with model name, KINGSTON; inlaid, imitation mother-of-pearl celluloid signature, Ludwig. Tuners: nickel-plated brass, Ludwig Planet geared pegs with ivoroid heads.

Views of Neck and Neck Heel

Bass side of neck
Treble side of neck
Back of neck

Neck heel

Neck: Spanish cedar or mahogany. Heel cap: black-stained birch. Fingerboard: ebony bound in white ivoroid; 19 nickel-silver frets; single small imitation mother-of-pearl diamonds with black-painted slots inlaid behind 1st fret; single large imitation mother-of-pearl diamonds with black-painted slots inlaid behind 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, and 12th frets; double small imitation mother-of-pearl diamonds with black-painted slots inlaid behind 15th and 17th frets; single black plastic side dots behind 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th, 15th, and 17th frets. Nut: bone.

Front, Side, and Back Views of Body

Front of body
Bass side of body
Treble side of body

Lower end of banjo

Body: Rim: walnut. Bracket hooks: 26 nickel-plated steel with square heads, fitting through holes in scalloped rim of tension hoop. Tension hoop: nickel-plated bronze with 26 holes in scalloped rim for bracket hooks. Armrest: nickel-plated brass. Resonator: seven-ply walnut with ivoroid binding along back edge; nickel-plated steel flange with spade-shaped openings; nickel-plated brass screw at center. Tone ring interior: nickel-plated bronze.

Back of body
Decal on back of banjo

Bridge and Tailpiece



Tailpiece: nickel-plated brass.


Front of banjo

Accessories: Brown leather neck strap. Original plywood case covered in black imitation-leather-texture Textrol with green corduroy lining, nickel-plated steel hardware, and later brown leather handle; varnished brass plaque inside case lid: Ludwig / TRADE MARK / BANJOS / THE ULTIMATE / IN BANJOS / CHICAGO, U. S. A.


Measurements:  Total banjo length:  865 mm (34-1/16")
Vibrating string length:  585 mm (23-1/32")
Fingerboard length:  397 mm (15-5/8")
Fingerboard width at nut:  30 mm (1-3/16")
Fingerboard width at body:  41 mm (1-19/32")
Head diameter:  271 mm (10-21/32")
Resonator diameter:  345 mm (13-19/32")
Rim and resonator depth:  75 mm (2-15/16")

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Most recent update: March 15, 2014

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