Derroll’s banjos

Derroll Adams Model *

Germany, 1974
Signature on the peghead: Framus
Serial number: 27812 / 74i

Total length: 97,5 cm
Scale length: approx. 27"
Ø 11"
Brackets: 24
Frets: 22

Rim made of multi-laminated wood, adorned with two strips of a decorative pattern. Aluminum tone ring. Neck and peghead in multi-laminated beech. Fingerboard in rosewood. Acrylic position markers. Scrubb’s style fifth string capo on the side of the neck. Modern geared fifth string peg with imitation mother-of-pearl button.

The German factory Framus issued a first “Derroll Adams” model in 1973, decorated with a 3 stars pattern on the peghead. Starting in 1974, the M and N-Line were produced: an open back and a resonator banjo. On the present instrument the “Scruggs tuners” were removed by the artist, leaving two wholes in the peghead.
This banjo was Derroll Adams’ faithful companion on his numerous trips throughout Europe. His poignant, simple playing style, his deep warm voice and his wonderful stories made him well-loved in folk circles.
The artist began to record on his Framus banjos (he had received several copies from Framus) in 1974, starting with the “Movin’On” LP.

Property of Danny Adams-Levy.

* A file about the gift of a “Framus Derroll Adams” banjo to the MIM, Brussels (2019), is available at the museum’ library.

The new Windsor premier

Signature on metal plate on dowel stick:

Total length: 90,2 cm
Scale length: approx 26 1/8"
Ø 10 ½"
Brackets: 29
Frets: 22

Metal-clad maple rim. Dowel stick in mahogany with a screw to adjust the inclination of the neck. Neck and peghead in mahogany, with a thin strip in maple. Fingerboard, peghead veneer and heelcap in ebony. Fingerboard with mother-of-pearl inlay. The original pegs were replaced.

Windsor was a prominent british banjo maker, whose installations were destroyed by German air raids during WWII. It is interesting to know that this banjo was originally intended to be played the “classic style” or “finger style”, long forgotten in the US but still favoured in England after the Second World War. We would love to hear it with nylon or gut strings.

Derroll Adams bought that banjo in England (probably shortly after his arrival in 1957, ca. 1958) and used it on his first solo album Portland Town. It can still be found on the “Feelin’ Fine” LP.

Property of Danny Adams-Levy.


Showcase with Derroll’s instruments during the Banjo exhibition at the Musical Instruments Museum, Brussels 2003 -2004.

Text: Gérard De Smaele
Photos by Luc Schrobiltgen for the MIM (Musical Instrument Museum, Brussels).