9/19/2020 6:29:21 AM
Your banjo rim looks like 2 others I've seen.
One was a floor sweep 1966 Style D that was ordered almost full year before it was delivered. The rim on this banjo is identical to yours in all respects.
That banjo also had a carved heel that was Monte Novotny's work. The carving was an option and may have been ordered
While I can't remember the serial number exactly, it was also in the 100 range too.
The other banjo is a Grade 2 that once belonged to an old friend of mine. It came with an aluminum rim, but several years later, the owner contacted Kix Stewart, one of the owners of Stewart-MacDonald, and Kix made a wood rim that looks like yours.
Kix used all the parts that came on the original rim on this banjo except for the tone ring, which was one of his flathead rings.
Kix also re-mounted the original neck to the replacement rim using an Ode-style dowel stick.
I'm not sure when the conversion was made, but I think it was done around 1971.
When Ode was sold to the Baldwin Piano CO. in 1966, Chuck Ogsbury, the owner, was allowed to fill the back-orders as part of the deal. There are no Baldwin markings on any of these banjos, and by 1966, Kix no longer worked for Ode.
Apparently, Kix made all of the first wood rims, as he was the only guy in the factory at the time who knew how to make them. Until he was hired, all Odes had aluminum rims only.
Your rim looks exactly like the early Ode rims. While I couldn't count the plies, one unusual thing about them was no lap joints were used in the construction.
All the plies were butt-jointed, and to keep them from opening if the wood shrunk, a small dowel was inserted at the butt joint. After the rims were turned down on a lathe to fit the parts, these dowels would sometimes e exposed. Other times, they can't be seen.
I see several of them on your ring, and they too correspond with the low serial number.
Your banjo is in all respects a Baldwin Grade 2 with no markings, so I think you have another 1966 floor sweep that was probably assembled by Chuck.
Congratulations! These things are really rare birds. I'm pretty sure everything is authentic on your banjo, and it could possibly be the only one like it.
We'll never know, but your banjo could have been ordered as a Style A from the 1965 catalog, as it fits the catalog description. The arch top tone ring on your banjo was an option, and the D had one just like it.
The arch top tone ring is rare, as a cast bronze flathead ring was the standard used on all the first wood-rimmed Odes, and was the most popular tone ring at the time.
The arch top would also fit with the floor sweep, as all the flathead rings that were being cast in 1966 were going on the Baldwins; Baldwin dropped the arch top ring like yours, and they were never used on any Baldwin-branded Ode.
Chuck must have been only able to use the parts available to him to fill his back orders. Floor sweeps are typically a mix of non-standard per specification parts.
In 1966, Baldwin also dropped the Style A from the line, and combined features of the Style A and the Style B, and called the banjo a B.
The B was dropped from the line ca. 1971 (?), but was seen last in the 1975 catalog. The Grade 2 model replaced the B entirely then, so Baldwins were only down to 3 styles- the Grade 2, C, and D.
All were professional grade instruments. Of them, the Grade 2 was always Baldwin's best seller, as it was a sterling working musician's banjo that was simple but had great sound and playability.
All the Ode and Baldwin banjo records are long gone, apparently destroyed or thrown out when Baldwin went bankrupt in 1980.
So all of the above is only conjecture, but it comes from my experience with the brand. I also have a 1966 floor sweep, a Style C, but my banjo has no odd parts.
(Probably because the neck on it was made in 1965 and never used.)
9/19/2020 8:55:18 AM
You're welcome, Al.
My first good banjo was an Ode, and I've always liked Chuck's banjos.
The Ode brand had a pretty short life; Chuck started it while still an engineering student at the U of Colorado in 1960, and by 1980, it was gone forever.
Chuck designed everything and built all the parts himself until Kix went to work with him. After Ode was sold, Baldwin never made any major changes at all in the banjos; there are a lot of minor changes, but nothing major.
...and Chuck's involvement with Ode was only 6 of those 20 years. When he started in 1960, he knew nothing at all about banjos, and he only began building them because he wanted to make one for himself.
That's only 20 years, but there was a lot of complicated history packed into only 2 decades. I picked it all up bit by bit over a much longer time period, and I'm always glad to have a chance to pass it on.
One of the most interesting things about Odes is that over such a short time, it became established as a major banjo brand. Most small banjo manufacturers never reach that height of name recognition.
Then, suddenly, everything just disappeared like magic with no trace left behind but the banjos.
The Odes were always a mail-order business too, which also makes their popularity unusual. Almost all the other famous brands had dealers and distributors.
The Banos themselves were all quite different than any of their competitors as well. They all had longer necks, for instance, and none of their parts except for a few can be substituted with parts made for another brand.