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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Value of Original Ball Bearing Tone Ring and Neck for a 1925 Granada?

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jstrid - Posted - 01/21/2020:  09:19:09


I recently purchased a 1925 Granada (converted to a five string) from Gruhn's Guitars, and was told that it also came with the original ball bearing tone ring and neck. Paid what I thought was a fair price for it with this knowledge, but come to find out almost a month later (and a few emails and calls that said the tone ring and neck would ship separately and shortly), that they don't exist. I am disappointed in this (would love to have the ball bearing tone ring to hear what it sounds like), and have been in contact with the store about a partial refund. Does anyone here have an estimate as to the fair value of these parts and how they would add to the value of the instrument? Not a ton of information about something like this out there, and I want to be as well informed as I can. Thank you!

p.s. I am sure that some of you are curious about the conversion, and it has a Marion Kirk neck, a First Quality tone ring (uncut rim), and a McPeake bridge. Sounds and plays great!

Alvin Conder - Posted - 01/21/2020:  09:41:49

That is a tough one being a Granada.

The irony is that Gruhns would probaly be the best place to have the knowledge and to be able to give an actual value on the parts and how it adds value to the entire instrument.

The good thing is that you got it from Gruhns and I’m sure that they will make it right in the long run and you will be happy.

Old Hickory - Posted - 01/21/2020:  09:47:38


Originally posted by Alvin Conder

The good thing is that you got it from Gruhns and I’m sure that they will make it right in the long run and you will be happy.

But they're the ones who got it wrong in the first place, saying a non-existent neck and tone ring were included. Based on their reputation, I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume this was just an unfortunate mistake.  But, still . . .

Randy Escobedo - Posted - 01/21/2020:  10:50:09

Have you thought of giving Walter Carter a call? He might be a good person to ask. Sorry to hear about the mix up.

Bill Rogers - Posted - 01/21/2020:  12:10:16

Well, this is not the greatest way to get a number, but... in 1975 I bought a complete BB tone ring setup (don’t remember the year) with ring, bearings, springs and washers, for $50. Running that through the inflation calculator gives a value of $237.50 today. Since collectible banjo stuff has generally outpaced the rate of inflation, that’s a good floor to start looking at value. It wasn’t a Granada ring for sure, so you should start a chunk higher as a base. The neck value, I’ll leave to others.

The Old Timer - Posted - 01/21/2020:  12:13:07

If Gruhn's mistake bothers you significantly (I can understand if it does), I suggest you just return the banjo, get a refund and forget about it. You'll find another one.

It would take a deep search through BHO Classifieds to find an old asking price for a Granada tenor neck, and a ball bearing tone ring set.

Have you simply asked Gruhn how much of a refund they'd be willing to offer for the missing parts? They might give you a pleasant surprise, possibly.

I think it's better to work it out with them, rather than here on BHO. Just my opinion. Give Gruhn an opportunity to make things right.

Edited by - The Old Timer on 01/21/2020 12:13:22

Brett - Posted - 01/21/2020:  13:55:14

gruhn would know better than anyone what the parts are worth, and should have immediately made you a fair offer to compensate, or offer to undo the deal and refund your shipping. That should have been step 1. Unless I were in love with it, I’d return for full refund at their expense. I think it’d be a needle in a haystack to find Granada neck and ball bearing tone ring assy.
I wouldn’t take $237 for my tb3 ball bearing setup I have (I installed a conversion flathead in mine). If I had a Granada tenor neck with tuners I wouldn’t take that for the neck either. But that’s just me, I never lick up and find parts dirt cheap.
People ARE real big on wanting the missing parts even just to keep in the case, same for the tenor case.

Brett - Posted - 01/21/2020:  13:57:23

Marion made great necks, and was a great friend I surely miss. Wish I’d gotten him to teach me heel cuts during the many hundreds of time I hung around his shop being a pest.

lightgauge - Posted - 01/21/2020:  15:33:53

I looked for a reasonably priced 1926 set for a few years. Someone put up a ring set, Tb3 neck and resonator for I believe was about 350 and I jumped on it. Probably 3 years ago. Ring sets were 300 plus when I found them. No idea on a Granada neck.

Leslie R - Posted - 01/21/2020:  15:48:51

I think I would want to return it and start over.

DSmoke - Posted - 01/21/2020:  17:27:47

Supply and demand.....It's not just what they are worth, it's more what it's worth to the person who needs it now. For example a Paramount armrest, I see them sell for $50, and I see a few them over a year. But now I have a Paramount, and don't see one for months to complete the banjo and pay twice that and the condition is worse. Keep that in mind because for Gruhn to make it right they need to supply the part as was stated in the sale. Best of luck!

jstrid - Posted - 01/22/2020:  09:09:02

Thanks for all of the input. I have to admit that it was a strange situation on many fronts, but Gruhn's did take responsibility and was receptive to making it right.

Brett - Posted - 01/22/2020:  13:59:38

I’m confused why you posted then? If he was receptive to making it right, and everyone knows he know the value of said items, did he or didn’t he? If he offered you financial compensation, this might go easier if you shared how much, s everyone could say ‘seems about right’ or ‘I wouldn’t take that’.....
Did he just tell you to go off and find out and get back in touch or ?

jstrid - Posted - 01/23/2020:  07:30:50

"Did he just tell you to go off and find out and get back in touch or ?" Well, that was exactly what happened, hence the post here to find out some more information.

Brett - Posted - 01/23/2020:  13:31:48

Dang, what a shock. The man does insurance appraisals and is a well recognized expert. So, if it’s up in the air for conjecture, and you do not wish to undo the deal, I’d say you’d easily blow past $600-700 trying to get an intact Granada tenor neck and ball bearing setup.
Now, there are variables, like was the ball bearing setup supposed to also include the ball bearings, springs, washers, and did neck include tuners, and was orig hardshell case supposed to be included. If you got lucky, which I don’t, and we’re in right place and right time, you might luck up around 5-600. But, if you had ANY sense of urgency, and not loads of time, I could see blowing past $700.
What do you others think? I may be quoting what it’d take to get a tb3 setup, not Granada. BUT, I am trying to help, and not dispute. It was just not stated as point blank like I asked to start with, so at least I was unsure. I sense also Dick was unsure. since Dick has a ball bearing style 5, his opinion would likely be more accurate than my opinion based on my style 3.

Brett - Posted - 01/23/2020:  13:38:59

Here is another variable I simply do not know. Is a ball bearing Granada ball bearing tone ring gold plated and engraved? Same for the stock tuners, if they were supposed to be on the original neck.
Perhaps you should also try and contact Jim Mills, Greg Earnest, and Curtis McPeake, .and darrel Mccumbers. Perhaps with ideas from 4-5 folks who buy as sell, you can best figure an aggregate cost? I am sorry you’re in this position. It does NOT seem necessary you should be placed into Dick Tracey mode, but rather his staff should be burning up the phones.

Leslie R - Posted - 01/23/2020:  14:40:48

I could be wrong, and it would not be a first.
IF, you could locate Granada parts, it is going to cost north of $700.
And you end up with a parts Granada.
I'd back out of this.
Mr. Gruhn has a rock solid reputation. Somehow, this one simply got messed up.
I would not hesitate to deal with him and see if he has something else.
Best of luck with whatever you decide.

BanjoLink - Posted - 01/23/2020:  15:38:32

I would worry a little about "I was told" part, as the person who told you may not have known whether the parts were with the banjo. If they were at one time, they were either sold, in which case they would know exactly what they are worth, or they are misplaced and may turn up. After you investigate, I would come up with a number that you can live with and send it to Gruhn and put the ball in their court whether they want to refund the money or take back the banjo and refund you money and the shipping charges. You are likely just not going to be able to find those parts if you really want them, which I don't think you have said or maybe I missed it. Good luck.

PS: Is it anywhere in writing (in their description) of the banjo that mentions the tome ring and tenor neck?

Edited by - BanjoLink on 01/23/2020 15:39:57

waystation - Posted - 01/24/2020:  22:03:19

Determining the value of any Granada tenor neck and tone ring misses the point, which is to have the complete original instrument so it can be returned to factory configuration. A different Granada tenor neck does not make this possible. Even if you find another neck, anyone looking at this instrument in the future will know it's not a match to the banjo because the serial number written on the end of the neck heel won't match the other numbers on the instrument. A ball bearing tone ring has no serial number, but without the specific neck that Gibson shipped with that banjo the banjo can't be returned to its original state. You'll just have a parts banjo built from a collection of unrelated, period-correct parts.

Rather than looking for the replacement value of irreplaceable parts, you should be asking what the original neck and ring add to the resale value of the instrument. The difference between the price of other ball bearing Granada conversions sold with and without the original neck and ring is what you should be looking for, because that is the difference in what you would have paid and also likely the difference in what you will be able to sell the banjo for. My fairly incomplete sense of banjo pricing is that the original parts you're missing wouldn't have changed the sale price all that much, certainly not by the amount that it would cost you to buy prewar replacements.

Many prewar banjos are converted and sold without their original parts. I have a TB11 neck in my closet, but I sold the banjo back in the 1970s when no one cared. Jim Mills has a wall full of necks that at some point were separated from their banjos, and I know people with collections of prewar archtop tone rings. The banjos those necks and rings came from are out there somewhere, probably being played and enjoyed.

Only you know if you would have turned down this instrument if it had been offered as you received it. If you would have, you should return it and shop for what you really want. There's no point in spending more money to turn it into a complete original instrument, which is something it can never be. If you like it, ask for a refund based on the reduced resale value so you don't take a hit if you sell it eventually, and enjoy the banjo for what it is.

Brett - Posted - 01/25/2020:  07:49:42

The difference is, having all the original parts, there in the case provides the perspective off an intact original with modern and removeable alteration. People will pay more for provenance. Just like an original 1970 Plymouth Superbird with matching numbers drive train. If it’s actually going to driven, at all, a lot of guys will store the running original engine so as not to damage. They may install a similar engine to drive it on a limited basis and run it through the gears when they feel froggy. Not having matching serial numbers on the car, and VIN numbers or partials are hidden in many places on muscle cars, and missing original engine/trans creates a lesser picture.
Many banjo players now are perfectly content without a cast flathead and want them keep their vintage banjos stock. Some will go so far as to suffer through a friction 5th tuner and Grover 2 tab pancake tuners that are awful to try and use compared to today’s. Every original part you cannot show a perspective buyer, even if he only plans on keeping in the case, decrease the impressiveness of the history piece.
Without any original pieces, why isn’t his case, it gives an impression of what many do, buy a piece here and sit on it, buy a piece there and sit on it. Then, when you’ve gathered up enough, you can put together a somewhat intact prewar worth good money, just with a conversion neck and or conversion that. All about provenance and making a case it is what it is. Many forge things, and the overall context of the situation DOES play into a buyers perspective of overall value.
I know a guy that to this day, will strip pre-cbs lesser instruments down for parts, and work towards building his own pre-cbs telecaster and certain parts are off this, certain parts off that. Buyers like that low mileage one owner thing and will pay more. Original parts, even cases, lend to that impressiOn and therefore DO influence value. And that’s what he’s asking, because they aren’t telling him, how much is his collectibility financially reduced missing certain key original parts.
Does anyone suspect a prewar neck or resonator have been rechalked or repencilled in the past to put something together or show originality? Who would be positive a handwritten pencil number wasn’t altered in any fashion? It’s the overall context f what you’re seeing with all original parts that makes your feel better about the whole thing. Add in case candy, old string packs, .org receipt and so forth, and collectors salivate hard. Have it in modern case, changed tuners, refinished, missing bits, they start getting colder feet as the money goes up.

Brett - Posted - 01/25/2020:  07:50:27

How in the heck I posted a big pic I do not know.

waystation - Posted - 01/25/2020:  08:55:24

Brett, I agree completely. If you're talking collectibility, matching numbers and context matter. That was my point about not using any refund from Gruhn to try to replace the missing parts. The banjo is either original or it's not. Barring a stroke of luck finding the original neck and ring, this one will never be fully original again, and the price paid after Gruhn's adjustment should reflect that.

Regarding the possibility of forging serial numbers, it's harder than it might seem. The writing style used on Gibsons from the start of the Mastertone period through the late 30s when they changed their numbering system is very consistent. I have heard the same person wrote the numbers in every banjo; hard to believe considering the thousands of banjos that were produced during that period, but all the painted and chalked resonator numbers look very similar. Likewise the stamped numbers used on the rim are very particular and it's hard to find dies that use that font. My PT-6 original neck actually has the numbers stamped, not written, on the heel. Unusual, but they are in the same font as the number in the shell so I'm pretty sure it's legitimate. Both the handwritten number style and the stampers are distinctive enough that it would be difficult to forge either one in a way that would fool an expert. It's like Mastertone labels - seems like a simple thing to copy, but I've never seen one that would fool someone who's seen more than a few of the originals. People usually change the layout of repro labels slightly to make it obvious that they are copies, but no one I've seen has successfuly duplicated the material of the original, and reproducing the patina is even harder. Folks like Curtis McPeake, Steve Huber and George Gruhn aren't guessing when they authenticate these things - there are specific things to look for, even on an unmarked part like a tone ring, flange or tailpiece, that indicate authenticity and place them at a particular time in production.

Bank the refund, or return the banjo and look for another one with all its parts. Don't try to re-create what's been lost.

jstrid - Posted - 01/25/2020:  09:03:38

Howdy all,

Thanks for all of the input. I worked with Gruhn's and will be getting a partial refund. Looking forward to see what comes in the next 95 years of this banjo's existence.

billy moore - Posted - 01/26/2020:  17:13:45

I would say somewhere between 500- 800 bucks for both the ring and the neck would be fair.

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