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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: What is this???

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Lou Bourbon - Posted - 09/01/2007:  15:26:00

For someone new to the forum, I sure am askin' a lot!

Yesterday, I bought this banjo from a local Ebay seller. Perhaps some of you saw it online. He was literally around the corner from me and I was able to play it before bidding. It sure does have a nice sound, even better now that the rusted strings have been replaced. I paid $575 for it and for the sound, I thought it was a real bargain. It was my birthday and I had $600 burning a hole in my pocket anyway! It even came with a hardshell case.

I have no idea what it is but think because of all the 5-Star stuff, it is probably a kit. Doesn't Stew-Mac sell this stuff?

I guess it COULD be Asian but the quality looks too good. The neck has a real nice deep patina to it. The resonator looks either new or refinished. The fact that none of the wood matches up in color leads me to believe it was something pieced together...but it sure looks and plays nicely.

Anybody recognize anything that might associated to it's maker or producer?

carteru93 - Posted - 09/01/2007:  15:28:48

I don't know what kind it is but it sure looks nice. I'm sure the solid tone ring sounds good too. Do you know if it's mahogany or maple?

Pick till yer fingers bleed!

Lou Bourbon - Posted - 09/01/2007:  15:34:13

Umm,...Here is where you find out how stupid I am when it comes to terminology.

Is the tone ring the round wood part? (I thought that was called a pot. Maybe a pot is the whole round assembly?)

If so, It looks like maple that has a color added to make it look dark.

banjonz - Posted - 09/01/2007:  16:50:06

The wood of the neck and resonator are mahogany. The rim ( wood part) would most likely be maple. The instrument has the feel of a Stewmac kitset but is very well done. The tone ring and rim is called the 'pot' assembly.

New Zealand

The thunder god went off the ride upon his favourite filly; 'I'm Thor' he cried, the horse replied 'You forgot your thaddle thilly'!

Bill Rogers - Posted - 09/01/2007:  18:37:36

The tone ring is the heavy metal ring just under the head. Looks like it's made from Stewart-MacDonald (StewMac) parts. Likely a very decent bluegrass banjo, good enough to play on stage. You paid a fair price, a good deal, but not a raging bargain.


phischer - Posted - 09/01/2007:  19:17:56

You got your moneys worth in my estimation. Are those the original ebay pics? I ask because of the banjos in the background:)
Always good to find an instrument in the neighborhood. I always catch em too late.

C Fischer

"I'd ask my banjo teacher but I am my banjo teacher."

Lou Bourbon - Posted - 09/01/2007:  19:29:47

The pictures are my own. The banjos in the background are a Crafters of Tennessee Presentation and a customized Morgan first "real" banjo. This banjo I just bought was just too good to pass up especially since it sounded so darn good. I needed a player for street music and gatherings. I dont like taking out the Craters and the Morgan doesnt sound too good...yet!

Thanks for all the input and kind words and help.


phischer - Posted - 09/01/2007:  20:13:55

So I noticed that Kevin B has a picture of one these on his home page on the HO.... He has it captioned as a home made Stew Mac banjo. The inlays vary just a bit but it looks to be almost the same banjo.

C Fischer

"I'd ask my banjo teacher but I am my banjo teacher."

Brett - Posted - 09/01/2007:  20:15:16

Yes, it's Stewart McDonald Guitar Shop Supply, if memory serves me correct, I remember they had kits that already had this exact same inlay on the neck. I bet that is a Steve Ryan no-holes flathead tonering and that's one of my favorites. I think it was a fair price for both of you, Brett.

stelling man - Posted - 09/01/2007:  21:14:44

I had one of those Stu-Mac kit banjos back in the 80's, It was a killer, wish I'd never got rid of It..


Lou Bourbon - Posted - 09/01/2007:  21:20:39

Well...l guess I'm not as dumb as I thought. My initial assumption was correct except I had no idea about the tone ring. Played it today with the guitar player in the band and we both though it sounded really nice. Gotta get the bridge correctly set and maybe get a Hatfield bridge to put on it too. The one now has the action set a little too low for me.

Overall, I'm really happy with the purchase. Someone did a nice job in its construction and its clear that it has had its share of use. Nice and "broken - in".

Lou Bourbon

steve davis - Posted - 09/01/2007:  22:10:20

That reminds me of the Diamond Eagle kit

Sometimes I just gotta wait for better weather

dhergert - Posted - 09/01/2007:  23:10:19

The flange is definately Stew-Mac. It's a bronze flange, and with that and the other recognizable parts, I'd guess that it's also got the Stew-Mac tension hoop and tone ring both made from the same bronze alloy. These were very popular in the mid-to-late '70s and early '80s. Probably also has Stew-Mac's popular multi-ply beech rim. I'd guess this banjo was the Diamond Eagle kit from the early '80s.

I didn't buy mine from a kit, I got the parts all separately, but here's a pic of mine with the similar hardware (mine uses their no-hole archtop with the same bronze alloy):

Back in the '70s when I built this everyone was building replicas. Today I'd probably put my own initials in the peghead and Mastertone block.

Whatever the case, this was my main player for about 25 years. It is a great sounding banjo, the old Stew-Mac hardware/rim combination is very respected for tone.

Btw, you'll never have that bronze one-piece-flange pull up. Also, those original Stew-Mac frets seem to last forever. Oh, and price wise, you probably paid just a little more than what your Diamond Eagle kit banjo cost back then. You did good.


-- Don

"If you must use your banjo as a snow shovel, do so:
only don't wonder if it sounds dull afterwards."
-- S.S. Stewart catalog, 1896.

Edited by - dhergert on 09/01/2007 23:42:14

5steve - Posted - 09/02/2007:  09:09:43

Hi all , I have the exact same banjo Stewart Mac from early 80,s Diamond Eagle kit banjo. No hole tone ring and all. I put different inlays in mone but it is the same banjo. MIne is a fairly loud instrument sounds good especially when playing up the neck where it really has an ice tone. Steve

5steve - Posted - 09/02/2007:  09:15:16

whoops, to clarify the end there a nice tone. steve

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