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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: A.C. Fairbanks Whyte Laydie #2 valuation


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/374875

jun3machina - Posted - 05/07/2021:  20:12:22


Hey there,

I was curious what the value of a banjo like this may be? And perhaps how much a restoration for something like this might cost?

information: A.C. Fairbanks Whyte Laydie #2 serial #22739

Headstock and fingerboard wood has some cracks, very last fret has fretboard chipping. This seems be common from the searches I could find. I am guessing a fretboard replacement and new headstock overlay is probably the answer... does that depreciate value? Thanks for any help.


Edited by - jun3machina on 05/07/2021 20:12:51








rcc56 - Posted - 05/07/2021:  20:33:54


That's a pre-fire Fairbanks. Some or all of the engraving might be Consalvi's work.

The condition of the head overlay and fingerboard hurt the value a bit, the early date of manufacture helps it.

Everything that I can see in the pictures appears to be original. I can't see the hooks and nuts or get a good look at the tailpiece and endbolt, though.



Later examples in pretty good shape bring 2k or more with just a star in the head and dots on the fingerboard. Earlier Vega made examples with Gryphons or other fancy peghead configurations start at perhaps $2500 and go up from there, depending on the year, state of originality, and condition.



If the missing fingerboard inlay can be found, it would be a good thing. I can't tell enough from the pictures to judge whether or not the fingerboard and/or peghead overlay can be stabilized. I would not feel comfortable estimating the cost of repairing this instrument without having it in my hands.  If the fingerboard is not too rotten, the missing binding and wood can be replaced and the cracks filled fairly easily by anyone who knows what they are doing.



If the peghead overlay has degraded too much to be stabilized, the folks at Smakula Fretted Instruments have just about gotten peghead overlay replacement using the original inlays down to a science.


Edited by - rcc56 on 05/07/2021 20:46:33

jun3machina - Posted - 05/07/2021:  20:46:23


Thank you so much for that thorough information! here are some additional images of the pot and tailpiece.





 

The Old Timer - Posted - 05/07/2021:  20:53:11


Well, it's got a mix of closed end and open end nuts on the tension hooks, so it's been through some hard times. Which shows up in those peghead veneer cracks.

Richie Dotson recently posted on his FB page a bunch of restoration repairs on an old Fairbanks like this. Not replacements, but repairs of the existing problems.

Bob Smakula probably is the guy to set you up with the proper closed end nuts.

DO NOT try to clean it or do anything yourself. Your problems are eminently repairable and if done correctly they won't devalue the instrument. I'd guess that fixed up it might be a $3000 instrument. Of course you'll have to spend some on repairs to get it to that value. If you have the original hard case that will be good for the sale too.

These early Whyte Laydies are very desirable to the old time and classic player.

Good luck.

rcc56 - Posted - 05/07/2021:  21:00:48


The tailpiece is correct for the period. 5 of the nuts, and at least some of their accompanying hooks are replacements. Some of them may still be from the early 1900's, but they are not the correct style for a circa 1903 Whyte Laydie.

Again, I cannot give estimates for this sort of repair without the instrument in hand. If it just needs bindings replaced, cracks filled, and basic setup, maybe a couple hundred. Minor fretwork would add to that cost. Complete fingerboard and overlay replacement would be many hundreds.

mikehalloran - Posted - 05/07/2021:  21:27:01


Very desirable banjo. I can see this easily costing a thousand or so for a sensitive restoration. I would not pay more than $2K in the shape it's in.

Bill Rogers - Posted - 05/07/2021:  21:43:18


Bob Smakula’s shop, where Andy Fitzgibbon does much of the high-end restoration, is the place foritu this bajo.

rcc56 - Posted - 05/07/2021:  21:55:46


I agree with Mike that, in its present condition, $2000 would be about the top I would be willing to pay in its current condition. The $2500 and up figure applies to banjos in playable, cosmetically nice, and more or less original condition.

There's too much that is unknown about what it will need-- is the neck angle ok? The condition of the frets? The fingerboard may or may not need to be replaced, but it certainly needs work. The same for the overlay. All I can tell for sure is that it needs a 5th string tuner.


Edited by - rcc56 on 05/07/2021 21:58:14

Andy FitzGibbon - Posted - 05/08/2021:  04:32:09


The fingerboard inlays of this banjo are engraved with unusual patterns... some nice variants occasionally seen on Fairbanks banjos of this period. I've always liked the "flower" pattern seen on the 5th fret star here. The 1st fret pattern is often seen on Vega-built Bacon FF banjos.

The photos show a fingerboard and peghead overlay are fairly deteriorated. It's possible the banjo could be set up to play OK as is, but to be a solid instrument it would probably need to have those replaced. The dark center lamination of these necks is made of the same dyed wood, and is often decomposing as well... often it can be stabilized, but sometimes replacing it is the only solution. Its condition is generally impossible to determine from photos.

Andy

Alvin Conder - Posted - 05/08/2021:  04:43:45


Everything said above is correct. Basically all of the number one experts on this type of banjo weighed in.

An absolutely beautiful banjo. Well worth restoring and a very desirable instrument. Just make sure you get it restored by one of the names mentioned above. If it’s not done right, you take a very valuable and desirable instrument, and turn it into something that no player or collector will want.

If you are looking to sell it. Do not restore it. Let the next buyer take on the restoration. If you are looking to play it, get it restored. The issues above don’t get better and you risk losing some of those inlays. You will never need another or better instrument.

hbick2 - Posted - 05/08/2021:  04:44:55


This is a very nice and desirable banjo in pretty much original condition, except for a few nuts and hooks missing. I would guess that the tuners are original. They were one of the options offered at that time period. I found a similar Fairbanks Regent in nearly the same condition, including the loss of wood and inlay at the bottom of the fingerboard.

You will get a variety of opinions on how to repair it, all the way from doing nothing to replacing the fingerboard and headstock veneer entirely. As a Fairbanks collector, I would urge you to do as little as possible. Although it is not ebony, the fingerboard looks to be in very good condition except for the end. The peghead overlay is all there and can be stabilized. In my experience, Fairbanks banjos seldom, if ever, need a neck reset.

In having the restoration done, remember, it is your banjo. If you plan on playing it extensively and taking it on the road with you, you might want to consider a complete overhaul. However, if you want to have a nice, nearly original Fairbanks Whyte Laydie to play around the house and take to jam sessions, do as little as possible. I think you will be happier in the long run.

esmic - Posted - 05/08/2021:  05:22:16


Saw this minutes after it was listed on Reverb yesterday, at a bargain price. Just to clarify, the engraving is quite nice, but there are no Consalvi inays on this banjo.


Edited by - esmic on 05/08/2021 05:23:21

rcc56 - Posted - 05/08/2021:  07:41:20


Well, I just looked this up on Reverb, and found it among the sold listings. The asking price was $800.
A very friendly price, even if it needs $1000 worth of work.
I hope the new owner will send it to someone competent and have the work done right.

jun3machina - Posted - 05/08/2021:  08:38:11


quote:

Originally posted by esmic

Saw this minutes after it was listed on Reverb yesterday, at a bargain price. Just to clarify, the engraving is quite nice, but there are no Consalvi inays on this banjo.






Is there a thread or reference on the inlay work? I'm sure there are signatures of this engraver, however I'm not well versed enough to know. But i would love to learn more. It didnt last long at all... 

Alvin Conder - Posted - 05/08/2021:  09:22:56


800$ for that in my mind equates to “Free”.

Have Andy do about 1200 in restoration work and you have a 3500-4000+ banjo all day.

Nice to see deals are still out there.

mainejohn - Posted - 05/08/2021:  13:32:40


quote:

Originally posted by Bill Rogers

Bob Smakula’s shop, where Andy Fitzgibbon does much of the high-end restoration, is the place foritu this bajo.






Ditto. The restoration of my #3 Vega 1920's TubaPhone that Andy did 4-5 years ago exceeded my expectations. Your banjo deserves the best restoration possible, and Smakula's shop is the place to send it. 



 

jun3machina - Posted - 05/08/2021:  17:50:34


quote:

Originally posted by Alvin Conder

800$ for that in my mind equates to “Free”.



Have Andy do about 1200 in restoration work and you have a 3500-4000+ banjo all day.



Nice to see deals are still out there.






While hardly "free", i did think it was a pretty good deal. I actually hesitated a bit, but something told me if i dug around and waited it'd probably be gone and id be kicking myself. 



Apparently it belonged to the sellers girlfriends grandparents. They were cleaning out family things in storage and found it. Its been in the family since original purchase i believe.  Or at least her great great grandfather... no case with it. I asked. 

esmic - Posted - 05/08/2021:  18:03:18


Re : Inlay Work :
For Consalvi inlay and engraving, a good place to start is my Fretboard Journal article on Consalvi from several years back. The publisher still has that issue available :
shop.fretboardjournal.com/coll...cts/fj-24

Particulars of the engraver of 22789 are not known, other than his being the fill-in guy whose work appears on Fairbanks banjos (22xxx-23xxx), during periods where Consalvi is absent, and possibly being Consalvi's successor at Fairbanks/Vega for several years thereafter.

TheLastWord - Posted - 05/09/2021:  04:35:21


Wow, $800, that's a great deal and you know some of the history.

Pigeontown Banjo Co - Posted - 05/09/2021:  16:58:38


Crazy deal and some of the coolest engraving I've even on a 2 - esp the diamonds!

jun3machina - Posted - 05/09/2021:  20:32:00


I asked the seller about the 5th peg. It appears to have fallen out and missing along with the tiny diamond inlay. lost to the storage unit. Upside is they found the bridge and took some more pictures. much of the fretboard trim is missing so that will need to be replaced as well. The seller also noticed the nut variations and said 4 were non-matching. but I got some clearer pictures which has me excited. the pot and neck look to be in nice shape.








RB3WREATH - Posted - 05/11/2021:  05:24:51


I would not replace the peg head overlay. There are great techniques that can restore the existing pieces that I have used over the years. Always keep everything you can Great little banjo

Joe

TheLastWord - Posted - 05/11/2021:  15:01:28


Love the flower star at the fifth fret. Don't recall seeing that inlay before.

jun3machina - Posted - 05/11/2021:  15:16:17


This was shipped yesterday so i should have it by the end of this week. The pictures he gave show two deep cracks in the fretboard. Im hoping its relatively stable, as i would much prefer to keep things as original as possible and possibly use as is. But im so happy to know that if i save up, i can ship this to experts who would know how to restore completely.

jun3machina - Posted - 05/11/2021:  17:21:57


quote:

Originally posted by RB3WREATH

I would not replace the peg head overlay. There are great techniques that can restore the existing pieces that I have used over the years. Always keep everything you can Great little banjo



Joe






Ive been reading about various techniques of filling in the cracks, etc. Do you have a favorite technique or product you've used?

acasseday - Posted - 05/11/2021:  17:27:27


My unsolicited advice it to listen to Alvin Conder and call Smakula Fretted Instruments to line-up Andy FitzGibbon for restoration. This banjo deserves the full treatment.

rcc56 - Posted - 05/11/2021:  22:15:28


Restoring the peghead and fingerboard is not a job for a do-it-yourselfer.
You will just end up devaluing the banjo. This instrument deserves the hand of a seasoned repairman.

If you want to learn the craft, it is best to start off by working on instruments that are not valuable. You can start on $150 un-labeled Buckbees and old cheap imported banjos. When you've done a few dozen fret jobs, replaced a fingerboard or two without damaging a neck, learned something about replacing bindings without messing up a finish, and learned the art of French polishing, you might be ready to work on a Whyte Laydie.

If you would rather not spend what an experienced repairman would charge to fix this banjo conscientiously and correctly, I'm sure that several of us would be happy to purchase the instrument from you for more than you paid for it.


Edited by - rcc56 on 05/11/2021 22:30:46

Alvin Conder - Posted - 05/12/2021:  08:01:43


Please see above. If you do it yourself and muck it up, the banjo becomes near worthless to a collector.

Have a professional do the work. Remove the risk of accidents and you have a very desirable instrument.

hbick2 - Posted - 05/12/2021:  08:25:59


The question here is not "should this banjo be professionally repaired." The question is "what should that repair look like?"

One school of thought is to remove the fingerboard and peghead veneer and replace them with ebony. In many instances, that is the logical choice. If the fingerboard has multiple splits and gouges, it is better to replace it. If the peghead veneer is falling apart, with pieces missing, it is best to replace it.

The other school of thought is to save everything that you possibly can while still making the banjo playable. I believe that is the case here. This is a pre-fire Whyte Laydie No. 2 that has survived, almost intact, for nearly 120 years. The fingerboard and peghead look to be salvageable. It appears the heel cap may have been replaced and obviously, the end of the fingerboard needs to be replaced along with one inlay. Other than that, it is a matter of replacing a few nuts and the binding. The tuners appear to be original to the banjo. Had this instrument survived in the condition that most of them have, I would say "go for it". This one is different, and as much as possible should be preserved.

I would wholeheartedly endorse Andy Fitzgibbon as the man to do the restoration. His work is excellent. My only point is that, as the owner of the instrument, you should stipulate just how far you want that work to go. If you want a new fingerboard, peghead veneer and geared tuners, that is your prerogative. If you want to keep it as original as possible, that too is your choice. Either way, Andy is the person to do it.

RB3WREATH - Posted - 05/13/2021:  03:25:24


quote:

Originally posted by jun3machina

quote:

Originally posted by RB3WREATH

I would not replace the peg head overlay. There are great techniques that can restore the existing pieces that I have used over the years. Always keep everything you can Great little banjo



Joe






Ive been reading about various techniques of filling in the cracks, etc. Do you have a favorite technique or product you've used?




I use Cyanoacrylate glue  along with Ebony dust. It must be real ebony. Ebony and Brazilian rose wood have a chemical reaction with Cyanoacrylate glue  and will catalyze quickly. The viscous nature Cyanoacrylate glue has will allow it ti seep under and get into many cracks. Second you sand down the hardened glue and repeat. Do not sand the inlay.



 



Joe 







 

jun3machina - Posted - 05/13/2021:  17:36:31


quote:

Originally posted by hbick2

The question here is not "should this banjo be professionally repaired." The question is "what should that repair look like?"



One school of thought is to remove the fingerboard and peghead veneer and replace them with ebony. In many instances, that is the logical choice. If the fingerboard has multiple splits and gouges, it is better to replace it. If the peghead veneer is falling apart, with pieces missing, it is best to replace it.



The other school of thought is to save everything that you possibly can while still making the banjo playable. I believe that is the case here. This is a pre-fire Whyte Laydie No. 2 that has survived, almost intact, for nearly 120 years. The fingerboard and peghead look to be salvageable. It appears the heel cap may have been replaced and obviously, the end of the fingerboard needs to be replaced along with one inlay. Other than that, it is a matter of replacing a few nuts and the binding. The tuners appear to be original to the banjo. Had this instrument survived in the condition that most of them have, I would say "go for it". This one is different, and as much as possible should be preserved.



I would wholeheartedly endorse Andy Fitzgibbon as the man to do the restoration. His work is excellent. My only point is that, as the owner of the instrument, you should stipulate just how far you want that work to go. If you want a new fingerboard, peghead veneer and geared tuners, that is your prerogative. If you want to keep it as original as possible, that too is your choice. Either way, Andy is the person to do it.






I appreciate this reply. I do understand the repairs should be done by someone who has a familiarity and skill as to not damage it. However I am not necessarily a fan of the full replacement type of restoration, rather the "minimal to retain originality" type of work. 



 I sent Andy a message. The banjo arrives tomorrow and I can see what sort of state it's in once I receive it. Then I can perhaps put a plan together, and see what the cost/timeline/et could be and if Andy can fit it into his schedule. This thread has been an immense help!!



 

Joel Hooks - Posted - 05/13/2021:  18:21:48


There is no question that I am a "purest" when it comes to classic era banjos. I am always recommending the people not modify the "orignial" setup. And to that end I would recommend the same with this banjo (orignial neck angle, small frets, and period sized nylon strings).

But, Fairbanks used garbage wood for fingerboards and peghead overlays on many banjos. The glue they used also tends to degrade with wood pieces falling off. This was, in my opinion a manufacturing defect that should be corrected.

I have no problem with replacing a crumbling acid stained maple fingerboard with ebony. As a matter of fact, Andy did that very thing for me with a Fairbanks and Cole model banjo not to long ago (and did a beautiful job)

Budget a bit over 1K to $1500 for the repair (excluding two ways of shipping and a new case)-- that is a total guess of mine and it could be more or less. If that is too much, sell it to someone who will.

It is possible that Andy has done more of these than anyone ever. Send it to him. If the restoration is out of your budget, offer them the banjo for what you have in it and let them do the repair and find a new home for it.

I'd recommend the full recovery myself.

Andy FitzGibbon - Posted - 05/14/2021:  02:33:50


Thanks to everyone for the positive comments on my work. My goal with all the restorations I've done over the last 20 years has always been to make my work as invisible as possible... I want people to say "this hasn't been worked on" rather than "Andy FitzGibbon worked on this".

Everyone has different goals when it comes to having their banjo restored, depending on their playing style and intended use, and I try to accommodate that as much as is possible. On a banjo such as this one, I always work with the owner to do as much or as little work as they desire, with the understanding that preserving the original dyed Maple fittings may limit playability. It's a balancing act.

Andy

jun3machina - Posted - 05/14/2021:  13:33:48


Its here and came with a giant stuffed snake. Haha. Pictures below








jun3machina - Posted - 05/14/2021:  13:36:45


The worst cracking seems to be on the peghead. The fingerboard has a few long cracks





 

jun3machina - Posted - 05/14/2021:  13:38:49


More of the fingerboard





 

rcc56 - Posted - 05/14/2021:  13:53:39


Again, it is impossible to say for sure whether the overlay and board can be saved without the instrument in hand.



From the pictures, it looks like it might be possible to stabilize the overlay. But I can't tell for sure. It looks like the star is about to fall out of there, There might be nothing left but powder underneath it.

The south end of the board looks pretty rotten to me. It might start to disintegrate as soon as you put a tool on it.



Imo, I don't think the character of a W.L. #2 is disrupted by the installation of a nice ebony board if the inlays can be re-used.

But it would be nice to save the overlay if possible.



But your repair person will have to make the final call. Rotten wood is rotten wood, and we can't work miracles, although sometimes we try.


Edited by - rcc56 on 05/14/2021 13:58:54

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