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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Fender Artist Series SN# I.D.

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/283311

tod1948 - Posted - 04/15/2014:  18:58:05

Could anyone help me ID this banjo for a friend of mine who has asked me to help him. I have tried to find the year by SN# but have had zero luck. The SN# is B1529 and was built in Fullerton,Ca. I will appreciate any help you may render and I am sure that he will also. Thanks: Terry O'Dell tododell@yahoo.com

saulsmanb - Posted - 04/15/2014:  19:10:03

I am no expert on these (though I do own and enjoy one) but I have read more than one post by Scott Zimmerman explaining that the serial numbers can't be used to date these banjos. He worked at Fender and I'm sure if you searched the archives you might find one of his posts.

I believe Scott has said that the serial number we're pulled randomly and applied to the banjos.

I have also heard that people who know these well can give a general estimate of production based on some of the physical characteristics, such as neck dimension.

I'm sure you'll get better information from someone else, but until then

All the best

Brian Saulsman

tod1948 - Posted - 04/15/2014:  19:13:41

Thanks Brian: I now know why that I wasn't able to find the info. I sure appreciate your help.

beegee - Posted - 04/15/2014:  19:45:03

Mine was made in Santa Ana CA # 01617. Bill of sale dated 06-03-70 Philadelphia PA

desert rose - Posted - 04/15/2014:  19:54:20



PERFECT example of why the label means nothing. The Santa Ana Fender facility was gone in the sixtys, and they kept using the labels until they were gone. Yours was made in Fullerton with a sale date of 1970



saulsmanb - Posted - 04/15/2014:  20:10:27

As a side note to this thread, my Fender is B1519 so it's quite close to your friends numerically if nothing else. Good luck in finding out more about the banjo.

Brian Saulsman

desert rose - Posted - 04/15/2014:  22:00:45

Little update


Just talked to an old friend and also former Fender guy. Fender NEVER had production in Santa Ana of anything. Santa Ana was FENDER sales OFFICE.

 The buildings I worked in while working for Fender R and D were the original buildings owned by Leo where he built guitars and amps since the early fiftys. Santa Ana was sales offices, amps also had Fender Santa Ana on their labels back then. The sales were a seperate company to Fender guitars and amps. Leo didnt want to be bothered with marketing so his partners setup a seperate company for sales.


When the Santa Ana was closed after the CBS deal in 65 they didnt throw out the Santa Ana banjo labels but kept using them interchangably with the orange Fullerton labelsenlightened




Edited by - desert rose on 04/15/2014 22:01:09

desert rose - Posted - 04/15/2014:  22:23:29

Some might find this interesting



Late fiftys video of the Fender factory, these are the same buildings I worked in at 1300 Valencia St , Fullerton Ca. Some of my friends in the video as well



Boyd Freeman - Posted - 04/16/2014:  11:33:46

I just tread this tread about the Fender Artist blue grass banjo. I have one, that I bought from a friend who purchased a new Gibson Mastertone, back in 1975. The only thing I didn't like about it was the 5th string wasn't geared. Could have installed one, but got a Gibson later and didn't. I have never listed it for sale and have not had it out of the case in years. If any of you know a young man trying to learn the banjo and needs one, I would make him a real good offer! I have no idea what they are worth?

The Old Timer - Posted - 04/17/2014:  14:49:38

Currently Fender Artists in real good shape sell for $1400-1800, by my watching of the Classifieds here and various vintage dealers' websites.

The Old Timer - Posted - 04/17/2014:  14:50:49

Isn't it true that the earliest Artists had those danged globular topped resonator thumbscrews? Danged because they're so hard to grip and turn? Later changed to more reasonable disc shaped, knurled edge thumbscrews. If the O.P. has the globes, does that help date it as relatively "early"?

tod1948 - Posted - 04/17/2014:  15:14:20

Brian: Do you know for sure what year production your 01617 is? And why does my friends banjo have a SN starting with a (B)? Does the (B) mean anything?

tod1948 - Posted - 04/17/2014:  15:16:15

Sorry Brian: I got mixed up on your banjo SN and another. I intended to say B1519.

saulsmanb - Posted - 04/17/2014:  16:05:41

I don't know the production year. My banjo has been discussed on the hangout in the past, but I don't remember anything regarding production year. I purchased it on Ebay from Eric Sullivan last year on a whim.

I believe it has a Concertone inlay pattern rather than an Artist inlay pattern, but it is definitely an Artist. I don't know if it came from the factory like that or if someone switched the neck at some point. The resonator thumb screws are the flat topped ones.

The neck is a very slim profile, which is fun to play, but requires some delicacy on the 1st string to avoid pushing it off the fingerboard.

Sorry I am not helpful here.

All the best.

Brian Saulsman

beegee - Posted - 04/17/2014:  19:25:35

My Artist has the ball-topped resonator screws. 1970

banjoplyr. - Posted - 04/20/2014:  19:09:18

My Artist # 5000 I bought it used in 72,any idea what year Desert Rose?

beegee - Posted - 04/21/2014:  04:13:41

There seems to be no records nor any logical sequence to the serial numbers. Fender has a section about "old banjos" in their website, but no helpful information concerning numbers.

Leslie R - Posted - 04/21/2014:  05:52:53

Just a little off subject, but Fender banjos came to be after they purchased the Salstrom banjo company. As I understand very little was changed after Fender made the purchase. Salstrom had the Artist, the ConcerTone, and another who's name I do not recall. Salstrom offered a tubaphone tone ring, but Fender did not. Some day, I would like to obtain a ConcerTone with a tubaphone tone ring. I've been looking for about a year, but no luck.  BHO does not even have Salstrom in the classified section, that's how scarce they are. I hear they were very good banjos. 

In the archived section, there is a story of one in Nashville, that was passed around and played by just about everyone. I think it got played so much, it finally just gave out and there wasn't much of it left. I tried to track it down, no success.

desert rose - Posted - 04/21/2014:  07:28:36

As Ive said before, Fender was not interested in doing ANYTHING but building and selling. The reason they bought Salstrom turnkey was so they would have everything. The banjos came with archtop rings and flathead, thats all. The people they called in to get advice were strictly bluegrass so no other tonerings were ever considered.


Banjoplr, there is absolutely no way to date your banjo without a sales reciept from the music store when it was new, the serial number is meaningless



a g cole - Posted - 04/21/2014:  08:12:46

Terry:  I own an Artist.  I traded for it close to 30 years ago.  It has the slim neck and  globular resonator thumbscrews.  The "Santa Ana" decal is inside the rim.I have not had the resonator off lately, so don't have the serian number handy right now. However, I have a letter that came with my Fender when I traded for it.  The letter is dated April 15, 1982.  It is addressed to a former owner who had made an inquiry.  The letter is from  Chuck Kinsler, the factory service center manager at Fender.  The letter states in part, "Your banjo was manufactured in 1967 - 1968."

This banjo is a little heavier than any of my others.  When I play it, from my position it seems quieter than any of the others.  However, when I listen to someone else play it, the volume is just as great as any of the others. I like this banjo a lot, and probably will continue to hold on to it.

tod1948 - Posted - 04/21/2014:  16:58:07

Thanks Everyone: I certainly appreciate your replies and I have sent this info on to the owner of the Fender. I know that he also appreciates your input as well, as hea has spent numerous hours trying to find out something about his banjo. You are all so kind. Thanks again. Terry.

mikehalloran - Posted - 04/22/2014:  15:30:37

ConcerTone? My catalogs say Concert Tone.

saulsmanb - Posted - 04/22/2014:  18:30:40


Oops - just exposing more of my ignorance! That picture does point out that my neck probably didn't come off of an existing Concert Tone as there never was a block in the neck as there appears to be in your catalog example.

All the best!

Brian Saulsman

desert rose - Posted - 04/22/2014:  19:56:54

Heck I worked there and many of us at Fender called it Concertone, still do


Leslie R - Posted - 04/23/2014:  05:01:21

You have done some cool stuff in your life, Scott.

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