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Nov 14, 2019 - 5:20:57 PM
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902 posts since 3/1/2012

Just picked up this on ebay. The seller was in Alabama, and said it came from an estate sale. Neck looks homemade with file marks. Not sure if the 8 inch pot is homemade. Very robust pot with possibly mail order shoes. No hooks or nuts.
Structurally, the peghead is damaged at the 3rd string peg, and there is a split in the heel. I can glue and clamp the heel. The easiest way to fix the peghead would be to cut it off at the 2nd and 4th peg holes and drill new peg holes. Normally, I wouldn’t consider doing that, but it is a very long peghead, and i think it will still look ok.
Neck length from pot to nut is 19 inches.
Not sure what type of hardwood the banjo is made from—possibly stained oak.




 

Nov 14, 2019 - 5:22 PM
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902 posts since 3/1/2012

A couple more photos...




Nov 14, 2019 - 5:45:58 PM
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csacwp

USA

2455 posts since 1/15/2014
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Judging by the hardware, 1890s-1930s.

Nov 14, 2019 - 6:49:15 PM

902 posts since 3/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by csacwp

Judging by the hardware, 1890s-1930s.


That was my feeling, too. 

Nov 14, 2019 - 7:08:33 PM
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763 posts since 12/30/2008

Or you could cut off the left top corner of peg head diagonally, trace the outline profile of the right side to cardboard and flip it to mirror it, and make a perfectly matched piece to repair the damaged corner. Probably just as easy as cutting off the entire top and drilling 2 new peg holes as you suggest? And would look better.

Nov 14, 2019 - 7:24:31 PM

902 posts since 3/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by championofnorthhuron

Or you could cut off the left top corner of peg head diagonally, trace the outline profile of the right side to cardboard and flip it to mirror it, and make a perfectly matched piece to repair the damaged corner. Probably just as easy as cutting off the entire top and drilling 2 new peg holes as you suggest? And would look better.


Interesting idea! But given all the tension the peghead will experience when the instrument is strung up, what is the strongest way to attach the mirrored part? Glue and dowels?

Nov 14, 2019 - 8:15:38 PM

339 posts since 5/30/2016
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Instead of trying to repair it, fix it up and play it. In my opinion something like this deserves to be left alone. I think it would be a nice piece of wall art and a good conversation piece. It loses something if you start cutting on it and trying to repair it. I love it . I wish I had an old banjo like this.If it were mine I would leave it exactly as it is. However mine… It is not. Just my two cents.

Nov 15, 2019 - 5:02:48 AM
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763 posts since 12/30/2008

quote:
Originally posted by IMBanjoJim
quote:
Originally posted by championofnorthhuron

Or you could cut off the left top corner of peg head diagonally, trace the outline profile of the right side to cardboard and flip it to mirror it, and make a perfectly matched piece to repair the damaged corner. Probably just as easy as cutting off the entire top and drilling 2 new peg holes as you suggest? And would look better.


Interesting idea! But given all the tension the peghead will experience when the instrument is strung up, what is the strongest way to attach the mirrored part? Glue and dowels?


That's exactly how I'd repair it. Glue and dowels. It's amazing how strong a good repair can be just using good wood glue like Tightbond if the cut is clean and well matched. But dowels can't hurt. I'd place dowels above and below where you will drill the the new peg hole, perpendicular to the cut line as in the marked up photo here. I'd drill and glue the dowels in after first attaching the new ear on and allowing the glue to cure. 1/4" diameter dowels are large enough.  


Nov 15, 2019 - 6:18:41 AM

beegee

USA

21389 posts since 7/6/2005

Titebond should hold that piece. I'd square it up, glue a new piece on, profile it and add veneer to the front and back. I would not cut the entire "hole" area out

Nov 15, 2019 - 7:36:16 AM

6351 posts since 8/28/2013

I'd worry more about the heel crack than the broken peghead. The repaired peghead would only need to take the tension of one string, but that heel holds the tension of five strings. I'd bet that the dowelstick is also loose.

By the way, to me, this doesn't look even remotely like oak.

Nov 15, 2019 - 7:50:07 AM
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902 posts since 3/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Mark Cox

Instead of trying to repair it, fix it up and play it. In my opinion something like this deserves to be left alone. I think it would be a nice piece of wall art and a good conversation piece. It loses something if you start cutting on it and trying to repair it. I love it . I wish I had an old banjo like this.If it were mine I would leave it exactly as it is. However mine… It is not. Just my two cents.


Hi Mary. I appreciate what you are saying, but I have always liked the idea of bringing these old banjos back to life, stringing them up, and playing them. The idea that an old banjo that has been sitting in some closet for a hundred years might sing again is why I collect.

Nov 15, 2019 - 1:21:58 PM

902 posts since 3/1/2012

Took things apart a bit more, and here are some photos. There are small screw holes on either side of the peg holes, on the underside of the peghead, suggesting that the tuners were secured that way. Also, from the looks of it, that may have caused the split peghead.

The rimstick is tightly glued, but is warped.

Took a photo of the hardware securing the rimstick to the pot. Not sure if that eould help date the banjo...

The hole for the 5th peg is too small to have ever been used. I am beginning to wonder if the peghead broke and then the project was abandoned before this banjo was ever completed.

Still pondering how to fix the peghead. I’m in no rush. Will take the shoes off the pot and use beeswax and fine steel wool to clean the pot, then make a tension hoop, and put a skin head on. Have to look through my spare parts pile to see if I have 16 short hooks.



All that should give some time to figure out the best way to repair the peghead.




 

Nov 15, 2019 - 1:22:38 PM

902 posts since 3/1/2012

Another photo...


 

Nov 15, 2019 - 1:29:09 PM

336 posts since 2/6/2018

Speaking for the rest of us watching from the sidelines, please post photos after you've done what you're gonna do.

Nov 15, 2019 - 1:43:36 PM

4836 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by IMBanjoJim

Another photo...


Vega 20th century?

Since the rust/filth matches the rest of the banjo I am beginning to think that this is a "folk era" (post WW1) creation that has lived in a barn.

Nov 15, 2019 - 2:10:15 PM

902 posts since 3/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
quote:
Originally posted by IMBanjoJim

Another photo...


Vega 20th century?

Since the rust/filth matches the rest of the banjo I am beginning to think that this is a "folk era" (post WW1) creation that has lived in a barn.


Hey Joel. Why Vega? And does 20th Century refer to the century, or is that a model name?

Nov 15, 2019 - 2:12:33 PM

176 posts since 8/11/2007

Cool. I always find it interesting to see the rabbit-ear/bifurcated peghead on these vernacular banjos.

Nov 15, 2019 - 3:06:17 PM

4836 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by IMBanjoJim
quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
quote:
Originally posted by IMBanjoJim

Another photo...


Vega 20th century?

Since the rust/filth matches the rest of the banjo I am beginning to think that this is a "folk era" (post WW1) creation that has lived in a barn.


Hey Joel. Why Vega? And does 20th Century refer to the century, or is that a model name?


Sorry-- I quoted where you posted a photo of the neck hardware, which is 20th century.  I don't think the part is Vega but there was someone who sold a similar piece-- I can't remember.  Evidently the company that made that piece made a lot of them because they were used into the 1990s I think (I have two of them in my parts box-- also one was used to replace the original piece on a Fred Van Eps "hole in the head" Recording Banjo I own.

So, after seeing that neck attaching hardware, and seeing that it is aged/rusted consistent with the rest of the banjo, I now believe that what you have was built in whole or part after WW2.

I also agree that it looks like a project that was not completed.  Is there any sign of play wear in the fingerboard?

Nov 15, 2019 - 3:09:05 PM

4836 posts since 9/21/2007

Looking a little closer at your photos.  The rim is 100% post 1900.

I think you have a depression era or later re-neck, possibly conversion from tenor.

Look closely at the inside of the hoop, you just might find "Elton" stamped on it.

Edited by - Joel Hooks on 11/15/2019 15:10:05

Nov 15, 2019 - 3:14:16 PM

902 posts since 3/1/2012

No wear at all on the fingerboard.
16 shoes, by the way—not sure if that would narrow down the dates. That seems a lot of shoes for a small 8 inch diameter pot.
John Cohen gave me a range of dates spanning 1890-1930. You are saying it could be post WWII. Together, that is a 60 year span, if not more...I’m kind of leaning towards pre WWII, but it may be that only the builder would know, and chances are, he is dead.

Edited by - IMBanjoJim on 11/15/2019 15:16:58

Nov 16, 2019 - 7:10:25 AM

950 posts since 3/21/2013

quote:
Originally posted by IMBanjoJim

No wear at all on the fingerboard.
16 shoes, by the way—not sure if that would narrow down the dates. That seems a lot of shoes for a small 8 inch diameter pot.
John Cohen gave me a range of dates spanning 1890-1930. You are saying it could be post WWII. Together, that is a 60 year span, if not more...I’m kind of leaning towards pre WWII, but it may be that only the builder would know, and chances are, he is dead.


Rather than the pot being older of off a tenor, I'd think the 8" makes more sense to have come off a banjolele, and then someone tried to make a 5 string neck. This would make more sense with the ww2 dating.

Gibsons first banjo ukuleles were made early 20's. And 16 shoes/hooks were fairly common. So I'd guess post could be no earlier than perhaps 1920's. This would make the neck a later build. Unless for some off reason the neck is older, found in a barn or something and was fitted to the pot... mystery for sure. But I agree it doesn't look pre-1900 to me

Edited by - jun3machina on 11/16/2019 07:14:54

Nov 16, 2019 - 7:31:31 AM

902 posts since 3/1/2012

A mystery wrapped in an enigma, or whatever the expression is.

Nov 16, 2019 - 7:56:58 AM
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4836 posts since 9/21/2007

I bet Bob Smakula could tell us where that stamped steel dowel hardware came from. I have two of them that look new I can post photos of if we need to see clearer images.

Nov 16, 2019 - 9:56:52 AM

6351 posts since 8/28/2013

The dowel hardware is positively 20th century, and was used on many makes. I agree with Jun3 that the pot is more likely a banjo uke with a somewhat later neck.

If this was stored in a leaky barn in a poor climate, I can easily see that much deterioration even if it's post WWII. After all, that war was 74 years ago; certainly enough time for so much warpage, cracking, and rust. It also appears to have been made from some pretty lousy wood, which never helps.

Nov 16, 2019 - 10:27:16 AM

4836 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

The dowel hardware is positively 20th century, and was used on many makes. I agree with Jun3 that the pot is more likely a banjo uke with a somewhat later neck.

If this was stored in a leaky barn in a poor climate, I can easily see that much deterioration even if it's post WWII. After all, that war was 74 years ago; certainly enough time for so much warpage, cracking, and rust. It also appears to have been made from some pretty lousy wood, which never helps.


Yes, I missed that the rim was so small.  I will add that it could also be a Banjo Mandolin rim.

AFA age and deterioration, here are some photos that I took from EBAY.  They show a 1950s Kay that has all the filth, dust, and rust of banjos that are often claimed to be pre 1880 (and many of the so called "early" or pre 1900 "mountain banjos) based on the way they look.

This Kay is one we know how old it is.  Yet it has all the same "age" related decay of the OP banjo (and many others with "early" claims).

A leaky hay loft in a old barn will do this in a few decades.










Nov 16, 2019 - 3:14:05 PM
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950 posts since 3/21/2013

That's the oldest looking kay I've ever seen in my life!

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