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Banjo

Beatles-themed musical instruments became hot ticket items to manufacture in the mid-1960s. One piece that went into production was the banjo. It seemed to be a stretch in keeping with the theme since that musical instrument was not featured in the band. However, it did have a legendary connection to John Lennon, as his mother, Julia, taught him to play Buddy Holly's classic, That'll Be The Day on her banjo. This appreciation of a stringed instrument carried his fascination over to the next instrument...the guitar.


The plastic banjo was manufactured by Mastro Musical Instruments in New York and was 22’’ long (56cm). The instrument had four strings and was accompanied by an instruction booklet (labeled as a “self-teaching method”). The creation was gold and cream with four headpins and a bridge. Along with facsimile signatures, the banjo’s white head exhibited headshots of each member of the group. The description on the skin read “The Beatles Banjo” with “Mastro Industries...The Beatles...Made in the U.S.A. under license.” The gold headstock displayed the words “Mastro Banjo” in red and blue ink.


The plastic banjo was packaged in two forms. One was sold in a cardboard box, and the other was sold free of packaging with a colorful sealed card attached. The creamy cardboard Mastro Banjo box measured 23-1/2” x 9-1/2” x 3-3/4” (59.5cm x 24cm x 9.5cm) and displayed red and black print. The banjo was licensed by NEMS and initially sold for around $12. Additionally, an official leaflet from Mastro was included, and it advertised various instrumental Beatles items for sale including the Banjo, Bongos, and a Drum.

Mastro Industries Incorporated was located at 3040 Webster Avenue, New York 67, New York 10467. Their telephone number in the Sixties was 212-KI-7-5600.


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Murphysboro, Illinois, USA

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