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Please help ID the instrument and age

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Apr 15, 2019 - 12:31:39 PM
395 posts since 3/4/2014

This banjo is owned by a friend of mine. It was purchased by his grandmother, who was born in 1911. It has been in the family ever since. I've held this instrument, and I can tell you it is quite old and beautiful. Its peghead reminds me of many turn-of-the-century models, but there are absolutely zero markings on it. My friend has no intention of selling, but he's thinking about replacing the head and perhaps the bridge (doesn't seem to "fit" the instrument. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated. It's really a beauty.

Apr 15, 2019 - 12:42:40 PM

1414 posts since 6/2/2010

Looks like a Buckbee. Could be late 1800's or very early 1900's.

Apr 15, 2019 - 12:47:30 PM

752 posts since 3/1/2012

Can you post a photo of the side view of the neck, where it meets the pot?

Apr 15, 2019 - 1:54:18 PM

395 posts since 3/4/2014

Here you go, Jim.

Apr 15, 2019 - 1:56:30 PM

395 posts since 3/4/2014

Sorry. My bad.


Apr 15, 2019 - 4:15:47 PM

1654 posts since 1/16/2010

Oh ya....late 19th century Buckbee!

Man...that bridge is the "correct" style just for that banjo, a small 2 footed solid maple whip cracker! That could be the original bridge....I'd keep it on there. Only thing is, is that the steel strings more than likely have damaged it, and they're definitely not very good for that banjo's neck....that's a gut string banjo. Put a new frosted top Remo head on it very tight, a set of thin nylon strings, that bridge or a similar one if damaged, and buddy...that little banjo will really bark! 

Set up right....they can be great banjos! Good luck with it...hope to hear you pick it for us sometime!


Edited by - Texican65 on 04/15/2019 16:17:42

Apr 15, 2019 - 4:57:32 PM

227 posts since 5/29/2015

The head needs to be replaced (Duuuh). This banjo has a very dark patina and shows lots of love. Not sure how much time you want to put into it, but a skin head dyed dark would could match the rest of the banjo nicely. A new synthetic head might look rather out of place.

Apr 16, 2019 - 11:18:41 AM
likes this

1780 posts since 4/7/2010

Buckbee was out of business by the time hex shoes were being used. This is an Oscar Schmidt likely from the 1910's.

Bob Smakula

Apr 16, 2019 - 11:49:41 AM

395 posts since 3/4/2014

Thank you very much, Bob. I couldn't have done it without you.

Apr 16, 2019 - 1:08:25 PM

162 posts since 8/11/2007

They must have made millions of these things as they turn up everywhere.


Apr 18, 2019 - 5:04:21 PM

1024 posts since 3/17/2007

If it were mine - and several of his brothers are - I'd clean it carefully with Murphy Oil Soap and see what color it turned out with some of the crud removed. Then match the skin head color to that.

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