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Clueless Swede looking for help!

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Nov 12, 2019 - 12:39:14 AM
1 posts since 11/12/2019

Hello All!

My dad recently passed away, and I found a banjo while going through his belongings.

I have no knowledge of banjos or musical instruments whatsoever, and I'm very interested to know more about this specific instrument.

I would be very grateful if anyone of you experts would be able to help me identify this piece :)

Nov 12, 2019 - 1:02:43 AM

2285 posts since 4/29/2012

It's a mandolin banjo. Strung, tuned and played exactly like a mandolin. Produced in Germany some time between about 1910 and 1930 by the Lefima company.

Nov 12, 2019 - 6:15:12 AM

277 posts since 5/29/2015

Mandolin banjos are for playing "loud and loose" music. They are particularly poor for playing music traditionally played on mandolins. Might be fun, although a bit expensive to fix it up and learn how to play it.

Nov 12, 2019 - 6:22:05 AM

1954 posts since 5/2/2012

Welcome to the Hangout!  There a hangout for mandolin players as well, here Mando .  Then there is the Mandolin Cafe, here Cafe  If you are interested in learning how to play it, they can probably help you out. 

Nov 12, 2019 - 7:23:36 AM

12355 posts since 10/30/2008

You're lucky that the tailpiece is there! The few missing hooks/nuts that hold the head on is not a fatal flaw, it can be played without them. You can also find replacements, although they may not be exactly the same, but they'll work.

The most serious issue is the missing plastic buttons on several of the tuners. Plastic buttons can be replaced, if you know what you're doing -- that would certainly be cheaper than buying complete new tuners. But one or the other must be done for the banjo-mandolin to be playable.

Hopefully the head is intact, not burst or torn which would require replacement.

I'm not at all sure that the bridge, which appears entangled in the strings down there near the tailpiece, is correct for this banjo. Bridges for banjos are usually wooden, not metal.

Nov 12, 2019 - 8:17:33 AM

6351 posts since 8/28/2013


Your banjo mandolin looks quite repairable, thogh yo must first be sure that the neck is straight. The tension of eight strings can pull them out of shape.

Also of note are the missing tuner buttons, which can be replaced. The tuner shafts may be bent, but probably not so badly as to be an issue.

Being German, this banjo has what is called a "zero fret," which determines the end point of the strings. However, with a zero fret there hould also be a slotted "nut" it on its tuner side to keep the strings from shifting sideways. That "nut" is missing and will have to be made and fitted.

I hope you can get this up-and-playing, so that you can enjoy it more. It's tuned and played like a mandolin, but is sometimes considered to be rather harsh, and there are those who string these with only four strings, rather than eight in order to cut some of that harshness, and also to put less stress on the neck.

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