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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Alvarez Silver Belle??


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mysterysinc - Posted - 07/10/2008:  08:52:39


I was reading a discussion regarding the Alvarez and wondering if the one I just picked up is a Silver Belle. It would not let me post to that discussion, so I hope I am in the right place to ask this question.

I was also wondering about the significance of the different imprints on the tail piece. Mine is a deer, or an elk, while the only others I can find are butterflies or something like that.

I am also wondering if the decal is original or is something that is put on after the purchase. I also have no clue what they are. They almost look Egyptian to me, but at the same time look like one of those Welcome signs you see in Pennsylvania.

Can anyone help me?

I am not sure how to post the photos here and hope this works...if not, please let me know.

http://tinyurl.com/65g37d

Thanks in advance.

Lauri

http://good-times.webshots.com/albu...t=good-times


Edited by - mysterysinc on 07/10/2008 09:04:12

picnparty - Posted - 07/10/2008:  11:24:47


Alvarez - Early 70's banjos, usually bow tie fingerboard, delicate and unique filigree peghead inlay with die cast flathead tone ring, 3 resonator screws, cast flange with a the holes being an oval with a larger circle in the middle of it, like a current Deering flange but without any points into the hole, They were pretty good value for the money. Some have been reported to have the brass rod ring under the tone ring like the Tokai Blue Bell and Orpheum. Thin wooden shell.

Around 1980, Silver Belle model was a Mastertone clone with an as yet unknown tone ring, 2 piece flange, H&F, mahogany, chrome(?), Presto, Silver Bell on the 21st fret, nice detailing.

This is not your banjo

No. 4286 Montana Five Star Banjo. Bow tie with different inlay on head, "heavy tone ring" (verified by an owner April 02), gold plate, big clunky imitation Grover tuners, pearl lotus flower and dots onlay on rosewood resonator, Mahogany (?) neck. Also seen with patterns of dots inlaid on the fingerboard in x's, etc., on a very early example, c. 1971.

Looks like yours is this early circa approx. 1971 version of the 4286 MONTANA FIVE STAR

There is no significant difference in the tailpices. More of a model ID..

You will find the Alvarez Whyte Eagle are the ones with the butterfly.

Montana's are gold and of course guess whats popular in Montana....Elk and deer. They also happen to be the gold plated Alvarez

Now that sticker is NO WAY original to the banjo.....However it makes the banjo original and unique. alomost like the flower on greg's tb1 resonator. I think the previous owner really like her banjo. I say her b/c of the 2 unicorns.

Look through Paul Hawthorne's Asian Banjo site for more info on the 70's Alvarez http://hawthorne.fastie.net/asianbanjos/index.htm

I have a 4282 and a 4289/4hole I dig my 4289

Hope that helped.


Bootes...



Edited by - picnparty on 07/10/2008 11:34:04

mysterysinc - Posted - 07/10/2008:  11:48:06


thank you so much for all the info. I am not really up on Banjo's...this is actually the first one I picked up, so some of what you just told me flew right over my head.

If you have the time, (and patience), perhaps you could answer a few more questions?

You are correct in assuming it was a she...I did buy it from woman...I did as much research as I could, but obviously I fell short.

I assumed this was a Silver Belle only because I found another site, folk in the woods, or something like that, that had photos of the exact same banjo that was sold 2 years ago and they identified it as a Silver Belle...the only difference was no decal and theirs had a butterfly instead of my elk or deer.

I was told her father got it for her when she was a child and they even had a photo I quickly glanced at that placed it in the late 60's...combining this info with other info I was told about 70's reissues, I just assumed it was late 60's...I am beginning to think I totally muffed this one up...perhaps the photo wasn't the banjo I now have and my info was wrong.

Does this mean mine is a circa 1970's Montana Five Star. Are there any links to some photos that I could take a peek at?

I think I will have to cancel a sale. I do not want to misrepresent this Banjo, and I think perhaps I overestimated its worth.

Lauri

picnparty - Posted - 07/10/2008:  12:16:46


I just noticed it on e-bay as well.
http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Alvarez...cmdZViewItem

I do not know of any places where you can view photos and compare. However, this banjo is a early 70's Alvarez Montana 4286. approx. circa is 71. Its a unique one and a little less common than the bow tie inlay.....which were not mother of pearl but a cheap sticker like inlay.

I wondered Does this banjo have the thin rim with the tone ring overhanging? You should have photos of the inside.

If it has the 5/8ths rim It would be worth more. Not sure what this particular Montana has inside. I am assuming it comes with the common thin rim and overhanging tone ring. However some models have 5/8 rims that are very good. My 4289 came with the full rim. Makes a big difference in the sound.

Most will take these 70's Alvarez's. Replace the tuners, tailpiece and put a full rim in there and you have a great sounding banjo at a very affordable cost.










Bootes...
9024-96 Style 3
Sydney 1933 RB1

jims38134 - Posted - 07/10/2008:  12:37:27


Seems like you know quite a bit about Alvarez. Look at the pics of my Whyte Eagle on my home page and tell me what you can about it please.
While I currently have a Price style tailpiece on it, the original was a hump style (that I replaced 'cause it was broken when I got the banjo).
Thanks!
Jim

mysterysinc - Posted - 07/10/2008:  12:57:49


I wondered Does this banjo have the thin rim with the tone ring overhanging? You should have photos of the inside.

If it has the 5/8ths rim It would be worth more. Not sure what this particular Montana has inside. I am assuming it comes with the common thin rim and overhanging tone ring. However some models have 5/8 rims that are very good.


No clue as to what a tone ring overhang is and how I could possibly take photos of the inside. I assume some of those screws open it up, but could I damage it? If you let me know how to measure it, I will.

Yes, that is mine on ebay. I didn't want to say it here, as I didn't want anyone to think I was drumming for business. I waited until it had a bid on it. My main concern is just being upfront and making sure I do not inadvertantly rip someone off. It is making me nervous that there are way too many watchers. II really wasn't even sure I would get a bid. I just want to make sure that the banjo is worth at least what I started it at.

Again,

Thanks so much!

picnparty - Posted - 07/10/2008:  13:58:47


quote:
Originally posted by jims38134

Seems like you know quite a bit about Alvarez. Look at the pics of my Whyte Eagle on my home page and tell me what you can about it please.
While I currently have a Price style tailpiece on it, the original was a hump style (that I replaced 'cause it was broken when I got the banjo).
Thanks!
Jim



I have a unique and rare Alvarez custom 4289. This was my grandfathers banjo that I inherited and learned to play on. It was very unique and I did alot of research over the years and learned a bit about the 70's Alvarez line.

Here is the info on the Whyte Eagle from Paul's site.
No. 4310 White Eagle - S/N 1461 - Vega griffin (Tubaphone #9) style inlays, engraved, carved heel, peghead of unique shape. Sunburst finish maple banjo, Gibson style 2 piece flange 3 ply maple pot, full height 20 hole archtop tone ring (possibly a later conversion), dual coordinator rods, flamed maple resonator (inside and out), chrome finish. Kershner tailpiece appeared to be a later addition.
I've seen a second one of these, not flamed inside the reso, no washers on both the coordinator rods at the neck end, it appears to be holding the neck to the tailpiece side of the pot (!). This one had no S/N and model number tag. The owner also called it an Alvarez Eagle, so maybe it is a slightly different model.

A third one is different still: Labeled Whyte Eagle, the banjo weights approximately 13.5 pounds; the neck and resonator is made of curly maple, resonator is finished on the outside only, inside has a dark stain applied to the exposed wood and the lip of the resonator is half round inset to accept the flange. The neck is butterfly with a thin piece of ebony running down the center. The head and heel are black acrylic, ebony fingerboard with mother of pearl inlays. The fingerboard and resonator are trimmed with cream binding. The pot is 7/8 inch thick ten ply veneer maple, two piece flange with 24 hooks/ nuts. The tone ring is chrome plated bell brass 40 (note the difference to the above) arch top with It has a replaced tortoise shell tail piece. (The original was also a tortoise shell) The heel is carved, the bottom of the heal is black acrylic with a mother of pearl inlay. It has a chrome armrest and had a fifth string slide capo, (6 - 12 fret) originally. Brown hard-shell case, $900.00 and change paid for the banjo and case in '78.

The owner wrote, ".........I bought it brand new in 1978. This is a complete hand made banjo and there is not a single flaw in the construction. All the binding is tight fit and perfectly smooth surface. All the inlay has exact fit with all round edges round. No flat mistakes. The sound is superb, out of the box. In my biased opinion, this banjo is as good as they come. I have seen several high priced banjos with bad bindings, flat spots on inlay and inlay that does not fit."

The Whyte Eagle is the top of the line for those 70's Alvarez. I have heard they are great sounding banjos that can hold there own. The next model down is the Denver Belle which is a flathead masterclone with a full thickness rim also a great sounding banjo.

The others good ones are kinda hidden and customs. Alvarez like Gibson had a customs. Some of these have the full thickness rims in them and really make a BIG difference in the sound. the lower models usually had a thin rim with the overhanging tone ring like the 60's Gibson Bowties. Alvarez did not keep records aparently from the 70's lines. Finding information on the 70's Alvarez is not easy. Paul's site is one of the only places you can even get information on these banjos.

However rest assure your Whyte Eagle is there top of the line and has a good sound.


Bootes...
9024-96 Style 3
Sydney 1933 RB1

picnparty - Posted - 07/10/2008:  14:15:01


No clue as to what a tone ring overhang is and how I could possibly take photos of the inside. I assume some of those screws open it up, but could I damage it? If you let me know how to measure it, I will.

[b]Its easy. Unscrew the 4 thumbscrews and it will lift right out. Hold it by the back by the tailpiece and at the heel of the neck and lif it out carefully. Place back in the same way suppoting the banjo near the pot so as not to put any strain on the neck. Its easy and simple. However your first time can be scary. Then after you do it you will say. Why was I scared to do that.

You don't really need to measure it. If it has a thin rim 1/2" or so it is very obvious. The tone ring which sits on top of it will overhang/ stick out over. These rims are very cheap. In fact Roger Simmeroff book shows these banjos as a example of needing improvment for sound. He goes into talking about glueing another layer to the rim to get a better sound. If it was me I would just swap for a better rim. Now if it has a full thickness rim about 5/8" The tone ring does not overhang/ stick out further. These banjos have a good sound and are higher quality than the thin rim models. I think yours might be a contender to have a full thickness rim. You should take a look. Its worth more and you may not get the value from e-bay . Especially if you don't have pictures of the inside. If it has a full thickness rim it is just as good as the Denver Belle/Whyte Eagle for sound quality.

Bootes...


Edited by - picnparty on 07/11/2008 15:11:49

mysterysinc - Posted - 07/10/2008:  21:24:01


Well this post sure came at the right time. I rec'd a question about what kind of tine ring and how much it weighs. I assume tine is a typo for tone. If having a full thickness rim means it makes it heavier, then that is probably what I have, as it is very heavy to me. It wieghs a smidge under 11 pounds.

It is just too heavy for me. For some reason, I tend to be a compulsive buyer when it comes to any instrument. The previous week, I found a hammer dulcimer....didn't even know what it was until I brought it home.

I don't really care if I dont get the value, I am only concerned that I misrepresented it. It would not be very fair of me to remove it for more money, but I will take it off if there is something that brings the value down, but I think I am safe if I am reading your post correctly.

I am going to open it up tomorrow with a priint out of your instructions next to me and take some photos, then I can post them.

Thank you again!

Lauri

jims38134 - Posted - 07/11/2008:  10:16:30


picnparty, thanks. I have also seen Paul's website btw.
Thanks again.

jim

mysterysinc - Posted - 07/12/2008:  13:05:59


I would like to thank you again. I did take off the resonator back and it was as easy as you said it to be. No worries at all.

I did measure it and it does have a 5/8" rim. I took photos of it open and have added them to the auction, then I will contact the bidders and all the people that emailed for info..I will add a little blurb stating what I learned in here regarding the banjo...you lost me at die cast flathead tone ring and brass rod ring, so I will leave that out. T

http://community.webshots.com/user/...st=community

the last six photos in the Alvarez album are the ones I added...the measuring tape photo is a little blurry, but if anyone counts the lines, the can see it is 5/8th..

This has been very educational and I have enjoyed learning...I might just go out and get a lighter banjo to start playing with...who knows?

Lauri



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