Kel Kroydon KK-10, the “Harry Gingell”

Instruments under the odd brand name Kel Kroydon were made by Gibson for the J.W. Jenkins Music Company of Kansas City, Missouri between 1929 and 1931 (Gibson would also use the Kel Kroydon brand name on a line of wooden toys from 1931 to 1933).  The two Kel Kroydon banjo models were the KK-10 and the KK-11, which later appeared in the Gibson-brand line as style 11.  Kel Kroydon banjos featured pearloid on the peghead, fingerboard, and resonator back, while the rim, resonator sides, and neck were maple typically painted black on the KK-10 and blue on the KK-11.  Stenciled designs take the place of fingerboard inlay.  Kel Kroydon banjos had no Mastertone tone ring, but only a small-diameter brass hoop sitting on top of the rim; the thick maple rim and one-piece flange, however, were the same as those used on the more expensive Mastertone models of the period.  Kel Kroydon banjos did not feature the adjustable truss rod common to all Gibson-brand banjos; interestingly, a rod is present in the neck of these banjos but no cavity was routed out to provide access at the peghead.

The Kel Kroydon brand name has recently been revived by the American Made Banjo Company which is producing a line of banjos inspired by the prewar originals.

As is common for Kel Kroydon banjos, there is no factory order number stamped inside the wooden rim or written inside the resonator.  This example remains in excellent original condition in the family of original owner Harry Gingell (1895-1974), a native of Factoryville, Pennsylvania, and is set up with a vintage calfskin head.

Photos courtesy of the family of Harry Gingell.