I have a B&D SULTANA SILVERBELL BANJO 4 string I got from my grandfather it is in real good condition the only number i can find is a 1 on the neck. Any info. about it woud b appriciated including how much its worth. THANKS FOR THE HELP MIKE
Well - she´s all original (except for the case) and she seems to be in generally excellent condition with only minor wear. The frets have maybe been replaced in the past - and maybe with a somehow wrong fret type - it´s a little difficult telling this exactly on basis of your pics.
She´s a mid/late 30s version - the original design was altered a little in ´34.
She´ll need a polishing, a replacement of the rusty hooks, the head and the bridge, most likely a fret dressing plus a fresh set-up - this will not be especially costly - compared with her value - only let a specialist do the work - this Lady deserves special care. Plus of course a suited soft or hard case.
If you´re going to sell her - do it as-is - the buyer will most likely want to have her reconditioned etc. him-/herself.
I estimate, that she at an international auction at eBay will bring $1,500-1,650 as-is.
PS! I forgot mentioning, that she´s a tenor banjo.
A few years ago I bought a set of 4 Planet tuners in chrome with the large butterscotch buttons. I believe they came off of one of these Sultana banjos. They are very nice, but they are smaller than the peghead holes on my Gibson's. They sure do look sharp on the Sultana.
Hmmm....Jim, what year is yours and Polle's dated? The latest models I have are a '36 Senorita and '36 Serenader. They both have the Grovers. Perhaps there was a change with banjos built between '36 - '38 (???) I'd bet that either Polle or Ed Britt could give us the exact date of the change!! Thanks for pointing that out, Jim.
PS you're welcome, Mike, although I obviously gave some bad info. Sorry. However, I think it's safe to say that the chrome vs. nickel part was correct.
Nickel for sure, not chrome if originals. My Sultana #1 dates to about 1934/5 per Polle's B&D aging chart. By the way, if original amber colored (butterscotch), they are made of Catalin. Very cool apperance on the Sultanas. jim
These are original old Catalin buttons on old Planet tuners. I went back to look at them and they are nickel, not chrome. I compared them to a set of chrome tuners I have and that pretty well told the story... nickel. Still, as reported, B&D did not use Planet tuners so these came off of another make. I have a couple sets of these buttons and I use one set on an RB-18 which really does look cool.
Yes, absolutely certain. They are exactly as they appear on your Swing. They are stamped on the back of the casing GROVER PAT. However, in both cases, they are fitted with ivoroid buttons, not catalin. (I tried taking a photo but my camera is now giving me trouble....grrrr)
I am really disappointed with their performance. They seem to have nothing more than 2:1 ratio and are very finicky. I am seriously thinking about replacing them, but have not gone through the trouble to remove any of them. Can you tell me if these have a 3/8" shaft or 9/32"?
By digging down my poor memory and my archives I´ve realized, that my Swing is in fact the first Silver Bell of mine having Grover "pancake" tuners. The rest have Planet´s.
I own a ´31 Senorita with the "cheaper" Grover 2:1 (small shaft) version - as shown on the ´34 Serenader picture (from Vinnie M.´s web site) above. I´ve seen these on other Senorita´s from the 30s as well - I´ve replaced some of them with ABM 2-Band small shaft tuners.
I´ve measured the pancakes now - Jim is correct - they have a 3/8" shaft - and also they have the "impossible" 2:1 ratio.
As mentioned in a private mail I´ve seen Vinnie M. "refreshing" old pancakes by drilling a tiny hole in the hidden side of the gear box and pressing grease into the gear box via this. Also the friction washers are often dried out and should be replaced.
Anthony - do consider a replacement of the poor working pancakes with 5-Star "Planet" tuners - they will fit the existing 3/8" holes - and they are perfect working - with a 4:1 ratio. I´ve used them many times. And they do look almost the same as the original Planet´s as used by Bacon - except for the buttons. You can purchase replica buttons, but you´ll have dress the holes a little.
Or - you could find some original Planet´s - however this will be expensive. I have a spare 20s set in perfect condition - I´m asking "only" $400 - plus shipment.
PS! I´ve just now been mailing with Vinnie Mondello. I asked him about his re-greasing method and the results - his kind answer was:
I have done it on many styles now and I would say at least 50 percent were helped. The ones with gears worn on one side from usage, it helps them less, but still somewhat.
Yes, I follow Vinnie's web site on occasion. It makes for very interesting browsing.
Also, thanks to both Jim and Polle for the confirmation on the tuner shaft size. I definitely would like to replace the poor working Grovers. I did 4 jobs over the weekend with the Senorita and have had it with them. The 5 Star planets are definitely a consideration. I have a set on my Vox and they work nicely. While planets may have been standard issue on most Bacons, I must admit that I am attracted to the idea of preserving this particular banjo's original appearance, if viable. So, I have also been curious about the reproduction pancake tuners being manufactured by Pavel Kristufek. Has anyone tried these?