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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Slingerland History


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/202617

beezaboy - Posted - 03/21/2011:  14:36:22


Is is true that Slingerland did not begin making banjos until 1923?
Or, maybe very late 1922?
This one matches an S.S. Stewart branded banjo I have.
cgi.ebay.com/20s-Slingerland-f...f0864254e
It seems "primitive" for '23. Paramount had 19 frets and
resonators w/flange in late 1921.
The "modern" Vegaphone w/ 19 frets and resonator & flanges
were out summer 1923.
This one looks late teenish (or maybe exactly 1920) to me!
Is there a correct Slingland History book or article I can get??

Slingerland - Posted - 03/21/2011:  16:39:53


John-

I'd try contact the person who runs this website...

slingerlandguitar.com/

He has an enormous collection of Slingerland instruments (including banjos) and has several catalogs. I've talked to him in the past and he is very helpful.

jims38134 - Posted - 03/21/2011:  18:37:47


Dave Kolars at slingerland guitar just does guitars. But, I have been in contact with his buddy who is the Slingerland banjo guru. Email me and I can dig up his email address for you. jim

Slingerland - Posted - 03/21/2011:  18:47:41


Dave also does banjos. I know he has about 25 Slingerland banjo ukes alone.


Edited by - Slingerland on 03/21/2011 18:49:53

jims38134 - Posted - 03/21/2011:  19:02:44


I guess I stand corrected.....

Slingerland - Posted - 03/21/2011:  19:04:03


Not trying to correct you...Dave may very well have a banjo expert too.

jims38134 - Posted - 03/21/2011:  19:14:27


No problem. I was going by some email correspondence with Dave from back in 2005. jim

Slingerland - Posted - 03/21/2011:  19:17:54


I've only talked to him through email as well. He apparently has about 200 Slingerland instruments.

banjonz - Posted - 03/21/2011:  21:36:05


According to my info, Slingerland commenced making banjos in 1916. I thought they ceased production in 1929 but I have been informed that they finally ceased in the mid 40's. They made a variety of models, right from the lowest end student grade which was VERY basic, right up to the elaborate, engraved ornate instruments.

David Schenkman - Posted - 03/23/2011:  08:40:53


You'll find some info on Slingerland on my web site: banjoukes.com

Dave
Turtle Hill Banjo Co.
turtlehillbanjo.com
banjoukes.com

beezaboy - Posted - 03/23/2011:  10:51:16


Thanks for helping.
Here is a typical account of Slingerland history found on internet.
Note that it is reported that Slingerland did not have a factory until 1923.
musicaviva.com/encyclopedia/di...ingerland

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 03/23/2011:  13:59:39


I have little to back up this other than having seen thousands of banjo pegheads over the last 50 years. There are family resemblences, and there are hardware resemblences too. It would take a person with better eyes and more time to research to prove or disprove this thesis.

I think Slingerlands either bought out Lyon and Healy or merged with them. I don't know how far the Slingerlands name goes back in drum making. It is also possible they were 2 companies sharing one pool of hardware, but theer are woodwork similarities too.
I also suspect Lyon & Healy either bought G.B. Schall or Schall became Lyon & Healy in the mid 1890s. Schall made hundreds of banjo brand names until right about that time When L&H shows up and Schall quickly disappeared.

I don't know much at all about the transition from L&H to Slingerlands but the banjos are pretty solid evidence it happened.
Other Chicago banjos (Harmony, etc) seemed to buy a lot of parts from Slingerlands too. How much trading of parts they did, is anyone's guess.

beezaboy - Posted - 03/23/2011:  14:50:54


From A.P. Sharpe's B.M.G. articles about U.S. makers on web:

MAYBELL
In 1916 the Slingerland Drum Co. was formed in Illinois and two years later they formed a
banjo division for the manufacture of tenor-banjos and plectrum-banjos which they sold under
the name of "Maybell". These well-made instruments enjoyed a large sale all over the world
until the depression of 1929 when manufacture ceased.
In 1930 the company reverted to its main object of making drummer’s equipment.

Slingerland - Posted - 03/23/2011:  14:54:58


John-

I've commented on this before, but I have discovered large inaccuracies in Sharpe's work. I am not trying to discount the importance of his contributions, but I take his work with a grain of salt. His comments on May Bell could be true, but I think more digging needs to be done.

beezaboy - Posted - 03/23/2011:  17:32:40


I've just started puttering around.
Going to follow up on leads here.
I thought maybe the "1916" was where Wayne jotted his info down.
The on-line Music Trade Review doesn't mention Slingland until 1923.
I'm surprised that there isn't more info about Slingerland.
Gibson - yes; Vega - yes; Slingerland - no.

Yigal Zan - Posted - 03/23/2011:  18:18:51


I doubt Slingerland had made even a single banjo. All the Slingerland banjos, wether sporting the company name at the peghead, or going by the name May Bell (or Maybell), I have seen, rerpaired, or owned, were designed by, and made at the William Lang factory for Slingerland (including the banjo shown at the pictures page of my BHO home, the pot of which came from a higher grade Maybell plectrum).


Edited by - Yigal Zan on 03/23/2011 18:21:49

beezaboy - Posted - 03/23/2011:  18:30:02


quote:
were designed by, and made at the William Lang factory for Slingerland

Could this be???
Short story - I took an unmarked banjo to Gruhn. His people looked
at it but could not make an identification but said: "That banjo's
got New York written all over it".
I've since found photos of Slingerland branded banjos that are
identical to my unmarked "New York written all over it" example.
Hmmmm?
Could Slingerland have just produced ukuleles at its Orchard Street
factory and purchased its banjos from Wm. L. Lange????
What a thought.

Slingerland - Posted - 03/23/2011:  18:38:05


I guess anything is possible. Lange could have made all of Gibson's stuff too. All of the machinery and what not was part of the hoax. The same could be true for any maker at any point in time. Unless you have seen first hand the manufacturing process. Sort of like those who say the holocaust never happened. At some point we just have to have faith, I guess.

Yigal Zan - Posted - 03/23/2011:  18:49:04


quote:
Originally posted by beezaboy

quote:
were designed by, and made at the William Lang factory for Slingerland

Could this be???
Short story - I took an unmarked banjo to Gruhn. His people looked
at it but could not make an identification but said: "That banjo's
got New York written all over it".
I've since found photos of Slingerland branded banjos that are
identical to my unmarked "New York written all over it" example.
Hmmmm?
Could Slingerland have just produced ukuleles at its Orchard Street
factory and purchased its banjos from Wm. L. Lange????
What a thought.



George Gruhn was among those I believe were "fooled" to take it that if the word Slingerland appears etched somewhere on a banjo, that banjo was "made" by Slingerland. If memory serves, he had an article in Frets, or some other printed venue, where he reviewed a "Slingerland" banjo that was identical in all respects, except for being more ornate, to one I owned and had at that time under my hands. In this review he stated that although Slingerland was a drum company it also made banjos... etc. To me the Wm Lang's unique designs and stylistic features at any part of those banjos' anatomy, heel, rim, fingerboard, inlays, peghead shape, choice of materials, glues, you name it, are practically shouting "I am a Lang designed and manufactured banjo."

banjonz - Posted - 03/23/2011:  20:40:59


While George Gruhn has a great reputation, he is not infallable and I don't want to start a George Gruhn bashing thread!! In the 90's I posted photos of a Slingerland banjo that I owned to him for assessment. It was a reasonably ornate 5 string with multicolour laminations in the neck and peghead. It had a donut ring with inlaid marquetry in the rim. The inlay in the neck and peghead was quite ornate also. His reply was he didn't think it was an original 5 string. I contacted the chap I bought it from and he maintains that the old chap HE bought it from was it's original owner and that he had actually sighted the orginal bill of sale with stated it was a 5 string.

When I wrote to George about what I had found he got really snotty and wrote back that he hadn't ever seen an original 5 string and by that inference, one did not exist. He thought that it had a repro neck on it. My question was why on earth would anyone make a repro neck for a middling grade banjo. Everything about my banjo shouted ORIGINALl!!!

Funnily enough, a 5 string did turn up on his site some time ago...Gosh I thought he said they didn't exist! There ya go!

Slingerland - Posted - 03/23/2011:  20:53:22


Wayne- That is a very strange story. Slingerland 5 strings although uncommon, are not extremely rare. Lower end Slingerland 5 strings turn up a few times a year on eBay. The 5 string you had sounds wonderful and much more rare than the banjos to which I am referring. Do you have any photos of it?

Here is a photo of a Slingerland marked Concertone 5 string, recently restored by Two Trax.

banjonz - Posted - 03/23/2011:  23:16:31


Paul, yes it is strange but it happened. I no longer have that banjo but it was a great CH one. Had a lovely tone. The only problem was the neck was very narrow.

reuellis - Posted - 03/24/2011:  06:42:01


could you post some more pics of the slingerland concertone?

AndyM - Posted - 03/24/2011:  08:35:10


I have a Washburn 5-string banjo that I have always understood the neck was from Slingerland, or whoever made them, possibly Lyon & Healy. It has the identical shape peghead as the Concertone 5-string shown above. I also understand they were all within doors of each other in Chicago and during the depression years helped each other out in many ways. FWIW.

Yigal Zan - Posted - 03/24/2011:  09:02:04


Lyon & Healy did not manufacture the banjos they were selling under the name "George Washburn" or "Lyon & Healy." At a later period of their existence as banjo distributors L&H also shifted to having "their" banjos designed and manufactured by Wm. Lang. The days of metal (German silver ?) clad rims, generously wide necks, ebony fingerboard, pegheads and heel caps, were over.

David Schenkman - Posted - 03/24/2011:  09:48:18


According to the book "Washburn Prewar Instrument Styles" by Hubert Pleijsier, George Washburn Lyon and Patrick Joseph Healy went in business in 1864. They introduced the Washburn name in 1883, on a line of guitars, and added banjos around 1892. These instruments were manufactured at the company's six-story factory in Chicago. In May 1928 "the machinery and all dies, jigs and patent rights for the Washburn instruments were sold to J. R. Stewart Co., a Chicago based manufacturer of musical instruments."

Dave
Turtle Hill Banjo Co.
turtlehillbanjo.com
banjoukes.com

TwoTrax - Posted - 03/24/2011:  11:36:56


quote:
Originally posted by reuellis

could you post some more pics of the slingerland concertone?





beezaboy - Posted - 03/24/2011:  14:39:45


Slingerland buffs - Please read this article.
Feb. 2, 1924. Says Slingerland makes 40 models
of banjos in their modern factory at 1815 Orchard.
This is either true or brazen fraud.
Let's assume its true.
When did Slingerland begin manufacturing banjos?
arcade-museum.com/presto/PREST...58-23.pdf

PKC - Posted - 03/24/2011:  19:53:43


Check out this site it may help. It has lots of pics of older banjos. I found mine on here and it was Made by a company for Dobson.
billsbanjos.com/index.html

Slingerland - Posted - 03/24/2011:  20:00:44


John- Assuming it is truthful, to me the article is written in such a way that presents Slingerland as a company that has been in the banjo making business for some time. To me, it isn't written about a company that starting making banjos the previous year. It was published in February of 1924, so to me the 1923 date seems too late. Of course this could be just a way to boost the Slingerland name as an established business.

Anecdotally, I know I have seen Slingerland made banjos with dates prior to 1923 written on their heads. I know that doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it is something.


Edited by - Slingerland on 03/24/2011 20:08:52

beezaboy - Posted - 03/27/2011:  19:28:55


Ouch! I just paid twice the value of a tenor banjo on ebay to continue
this investigation. I saw it coming.
But, it may be that Slingerland did, in fact, concentrate on the
ukulele market and acted as a jobber for banjos until 1923
when it opened its factory and ultimately launched the May Bell line.
I just bought the ebay banjo with a Slingland label on the rim.
I have its twin in my closet. The twin is dowel stamped S.S. Stewart.
The headstock inlay on both is a copy of an inlay used on 4s banjos.
4s banjos may have been made by Lange.
If so, Lange would have the drawings for the inlay.
Therefore, there is foggy evidence that Lange made Slingerlands
and Stewarts.
We'll see when banjo arrives.

beezaboy - Posted - 03/28/2011:  17:45:37


To button-up this thread:
Been in touch with Tim Stevens and Dave Kolars (thank you for the leads).
Tim believes and Dave concurs that Slingerland began production
of instruments in 1918 in rental quarters in Chicago.
Very small world - Dave Kolars was the person I was bidding vs.
re: previous post and that's why the price went a little high on that
Slingerland banjo. I had not contacted Dave yet and was a surprise
when I learned he was "the other guy". In fact, Tim and Dave had
been discussing that banjo in advance of auction deadline.
Both agree that the ebay banjo was a Slingerland and not a Lange
like I thought possible.
(It would have been really neat if it had been a Lange!).

Slingerland - Posted - 03/28/2011:  17:51:09


Thanks for the update. I saw the banjo that you are talking about. I think that is the fanciest Slingerland (not May bell or something else) that I've ever seen. The intact paper label is always a plus.

I didn't bid, but I know someone who did. Maybe he will show his face on this thread.

TwoTrax - Posted - 03/28/2011:  18:21:54


quote:
Originally posted by Slingerland

Thanks for the update. I saw the banjo that you are talking about. I think that is the fanciest Slingerland (not May bell or something else) that I've ever seen. The intact paper label is always a plus.

I didn't bid, but I know someone who did. Maybe he will show his face on this thread.



Who Me? Thanks for pulling my bacon out of the fire John. I also wanted to replace the photos that are missing.





beezaboy - Posted - 03/28/2011:  19:32:16


quote:
Who Me?

As we've often said: The happiest day is when you get outbid on ebay.

David Schenkman - Posted - 03/29/2011:  07:13:15


If you want to see a really fancy Slingerland, go to my site -- banjoukes.com -- and click "Manufacturers." Click Slingerland and then click the link to "Fancy Slingerland Special." You might find the large advertising broadside of interest also; it features May Bell instruments.

Dave
Turtle Hill Banjo Co.
turtlehillbanjo.com
banjoukes.com

USELESSWALI - Posted - 03/29/2011:  07:52:53





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beezaboy - Posted - 03/31/2011:  05:50:19


A couple of tid-bits from Music Trade Review.
1. Slingerland is not mentioned in MTR until May 1923 with
a brief note that Slingerland Mfg. Co. had a display at a Music
Trades Convention. The display was of Slingerland's "complete
banjo family including thirty-five different styles".
[emphasis supplied].
Editorial: Slingerland must have been in banjo business for
some time in order to have developed so many styles of banjos.
2. Slingerland issued a new banjo catalog Jan. 1924 and
said 1923 was best year ever.
Editorial: Implies that there were other years prior to 1923.
3. US Patent Office accepted Slingerland's application and issued
a registration for trademark "May Bell" July 1924.
It is astounding to me how little history remains about the establishment
of this enormous banjo manufacturing company. It appears that no one
was particularly interested in the firm until Gene Krupa began playing
Slingerland drums.

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