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How do I identify a Banjo without a Name

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Aug 18, 2019 - 12:39:40 PM
3 posts since 8/18/2019

I have a great banjo, excellent sound, Gibson tuners, beautiful pearl inlay, the number 403 at the base of the neck, but no name. I am interested in selling, but I am not sure what model it is or what it is worth. Photos are attached. Any help would be appreciated.


Aug 18, 2019 - 1:03:23 PM

10056 posts since 6/2/2008

No name on the peghead probably because someone made the neck in a home workshop.

Hard to tell if the pot is parts or perhaps from some Asian made banjo.  More photos, such as a closer side view of the pot, back of resonator and inside of pot might help some folks zero in on whether the pot is from a manufacturer or a home assembler. 

The Gibson tuners are a nice touch. They're from the 70s, haven't been made in years.

Aug 18, 2019 - 1:29:35 PM

3 posts since 8/18/2019

Here are a few more photos.


Aug 18, 2019 - 2:45:15 PM
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52 posts since 1/15/2018

In 2019 it’ll just identify itself.

Aug 18, 2019 - 4:07:29 PM

3 posts since 8/18/2019

As long as it doesn’t identify as a harmonica!

Aug 18, 2019 - 6:20:41 PM
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4924 posts since 10/12/2009

Just won't take that resonator off, I guess......

Aug 18, 2019 - 7:07:41 PM

10056 posts since 6/2/2008

Arch top tone ring. Skirt of the ring is visible in the photo that shows the armrest legs.  Take the resonator off and look at where the tone ring meets the rim. If you see four semi-circular holes at opposite points around the rim, then the ring is post-war Gibson.  If 40 holes in the vertical wall of the ring, could be pre-war Gibson or modern Stew-Mac or Sullivan. If no holes, could be pre-war Gibson or post-war ring from who knows who else. I don't know if most rings include any marks identifying the maker.  Others here know more about tone rings than I do.

The one-piece flange looks different than any I've ever seen in that it appears not to have a quarter-round bead from the point behind the hook holes up to the wood band. I've also not seen a resonator's front edge binding topped with that type of black-white strip.

Can't read the pencil marks inside the resonator visible through the hole.

I'm guessing parts banjo. Could be made from some good parts. But without knowing who the maker is, it might be worth less than it could fetch if parted out. Sound and playability will have a lot to do with how much you can get in a local sale. With tremendous sound and comfortable neck it could be worth $1000 to somebody. Over the internet where buyers can't play it first, I'd expect it to be tough to get $700.

I could be wrong about everything.

Aug 19, 2019 - 4:33:28 PM



21294 posts since 7/6/2005

If you look at the treble side of the pot, there is no skirt, but some holes bored in the rim. I don't know what is showing on the armrest side.

I think it has a tone hoop on top of the rim and the rest looks like an Asian mash-up.

Aug 19, 2019 - 8:25:33 PM
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10056 posts since 6/2/2008

Originally posted by beegee

If you look at the treble side of the pot, there is no skirt, but some holes bored in the rim.

That's what it looked like to me at first, but since I saw what appeared to me to be a tone ring skirt on the armrest side, I convinced myself that the holes you're referring to are in a leather cradle strap.

Aug 21, 2019 - 8:19:39 PM



3005 posts since 1/31/2005

Yep, it's got a tone ring. You can see it @ left side of the arm rest!!

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