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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Conrad banjo

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Frailinaway - Posted - 09/06/2010:  07:48:56

I recently came into possession of a Conrad, 5-string, long neck (25 frets), resonator banjo. The finish on the neck, peg head and resonator is absolutely flawless, there is no rust or corrosion on the metal parts and I can find no material faults in the instrument. It came with a 'hard case', probably chipboard. I can't say the case was original but since it fits this longneck instrument it could have been 'part of the package'. I am having difficulty finding much information about Conrad banjos. So far, all I've discovered is they were probably made in Japan (confirmed by the "Made in Japan" sticker on the back of the peg head) during the 1960s and 1970s. I would appreciate any information any of you can give me, any leads to other sources of information and any comments about the possible value of this instrument. (If a picture of the instrument would be helpful, I'll see if I can't get my 8 year old granddaughter to post one for me........) Thanks in advance for all of your input.

klgera - Posted - 09/06/2010:  08:43:21

They are listed on Paul Hawthornes site under entry level banjos. I have seen them with a metal pot, probably aluminum, and a wooden arm rest. Those were inexpensive, fairly decent beginner banjos, especially with a little tweaking. I have never seen a long neck and the Hawthorne website offers no information that I can find about them.

Check and go under Asian banjos.


klgera - Posted - 09/06/2010:  08:51:21

I should add, that because it is a long neck, that certainly makes it rare and more valuable then the standard 5 string that they made.

Frailinaway - Posted - 09/06/2010:  12:26:55

Ken -- I truly appreciate your information! My search of the Hawthorne website didn't give me any more information than you found. To follow up on my description of the instrument, it does have a metal, probably aluminum, pot and a wooden armrest. The four tuners on the peg head are geared, don't know the ratio, and the 5th string tuner is friction. I keep looking at the instrument trying to find a scratch or mar, without success. Even the head only has a couple of 'smudges' from being played. All I've done to the instrument is replace the strings and the bridge. I can see no evidence at all that the neck has been replaced. All the seller could tell me was that it was a "banjo". Now, my curiosity is about to eat me up! Thanks, Ken, once again.

banjonz - Posted - 09/06/2010:  13:03:38

Evret, I doubt if you will find anything on Conrad banjos. They are a generic Asian (in this case Japanese) entry level instrument and identical to numerous others. 'Conrad' is probably the name of the marketer/importer and identical instruments were branded variably for numerous western markets. Being a long neck (made during and for the folk boom of the 60's... probably) certainly doesn't make them rare.

Frailinaway - Posted - 09/06/2010:  14:04:41

Wayne, thanks for the information. "Knowing" is better than "not knowing" and it makes my unfruitful searching a bit easier to swallow. I wasn't looking for a giant market value but just very curious about the instrument's origin. You've answered both of these concerns and I thank you! On the other hand, if anyone's interested in a long neck Conrad in pristine condition.....................

beegee - Posted - 09/06/2010:  18:21:42

Conrad was a name used by an importer who had instruments made by Kasuga and Tokai at various times in the 60s-70s. The Kasuga-made Conrads are identical of very similar to the Orpheum, Alvarez, Melodier, Aria and a bunch of others like this:

I don't knwo who made the long-neck models.

Edited by - beegee on 09/06/2010 18:22:26

FXHERE - Posted - 09/07/2010:  05:37:51

I had one identical to the one in the photo above...Not a bad banjo, and the loudest banjo I`ve ever had...They were poorly built on the inside, and were made with the tone bell rim cut...The fun of this banjo was that I could just drop an arch top tone ring on it and pick away and then go back to a flathead...The tonering was some type of metal alloy and not bronze but heeeeeavy...

Frailinaway - Posted - 09/07/2010:  17:04:03

The Conrad I've been blessed certainly doesn't look like the one posted by beegee! Mine gives the term "entry level" a whole new meaning............but I'm having fun playing around with it. Thanks to everyone for the information supplied; my curiosity is more than satisfied.

pickerfromhell - Posted - 02/19/2011:  10:11:27

I have one of the top of the line Conrad Tenor Banjo's (circa 1976) . It has 19 frets and the inlay. It also has the extra arrowhead inlay surrounding the name Conrad which is also inlaid. The pot is polished chrome with a chrome rest. I installed top of the line tuning keys because it was a bit fussy tuning it. I play it with Irish Tenor strings from JustStrings.

Typically, I tune CGDA, But, alternate on occasion to GDAE.
It has a pretty decent and vibrant tone and it's good for the Celtic tunes I play.
It's not a Mastertone by any stretch, but it has some definite punch and nice ring to it.
It's still pretty fussy to tune.

pickerfromhell - Posted - 02/19/2011:  10:43:21

pics of the Conrad Tenor Banjo

Ronnie - Posted - 02/19/2011:  18:15:00

I had a Conrad 12 string guitar one. It was REALLY fussy to tune!

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