Helen Knighton

Helen May Knighton (May 27, 1918–February 19, 2006) grew up in York, Pennsylvania and learned to play both tenor banjo and mandocello as a young girl.  Her musical ability led to membership in two highly-acclaimed fretted instrument ensembles active in the York area in the 1930s:  Warren Dean’s Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra and the Karl Alex Smyser Banjo Band.  Dean and Smyser were both noted performers, composers, and teachers and were regularly pictured as endorsing artists in Gibson catalogs of the period.  Miss Knighton also performed as a member of The Banjo Four, a quartet selected from the Dean orchestra.

The Banjo Four

Dean’s Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra

The Karl Alex Smyser Banjo Band

Helen Knighton’s Gibson TB-3 Mastertone banjo

Helen Knighton’s Gibson K-1 mandocello