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Nov 19, 2019 - 4:17:09 PM
4 posts since 11/19/2019

Bear with me as I am a banjo newb. I picked up this Kalamazoo last weekend at an estate sale. Did as much research as I could and it appears that it is a pre-war, flat back, one piece flange tenor model. It's in pretty good condition but could use a good cleaning.

The neck looks pretty straight and the frets and fingerboard look decent. It looks like all the hardware is there but I could be wrong. Will pull it apart later tonight and see how it looks inside. Obviously missing a string but that is pretty easy to fix.

Here are my newb questions.

1. My plan is for a thorough wipe down with a clean cloth, lube tuners and throw on some new strings and begin my banjo journey. Any reason not to do this? As in have a set-up done by a luthier, etc...

2. Not planning to restore it but I would like to clean it up a bit. I have searched and read many posts and seen multiple examples of what should/shouldn't be done. Plan is for an hour or so of light elbow grease to remove dirt and grime. Should I go with a less is more approach?

3. Is my description above of what the banjo actually is (model, style) correct?

4. Anybody have any idea of how to figure out when it was built? The only numbers are on the back of the head stock but I couldn't find any info on any of the databases on line.

Thank you in advance,

Nov 19, 2019 - 4:32:41 PM

598 posts since 5/19/2018

Mike/ What would help many of us here in our advice and answers to you, is if you would post some photos of the banjo.

That way we could ascertain what model it is, maybe even what year and give you some solid advice on how to get it into playing condition.

If possible post full pictures, front and back and a photo of the serial numbers and any other interesting things you might see on the banjo.

There are many, many people here who can help you.

Welcome aboard.

Nov 19, 2019 - 5:09:40 PM

12355 posts since 10/30/2008
Online Now

Don't clean it at all. Age=Character. Don't take it apart.

Strings, bridge, and PICK IT!

Nov 19, 2019 - 5:15:16 PM
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Players Union Member



5005 posts since 10/12/2009

Kalamazoo's with a flange are quite rare. Most had shoe brackets with no flange.

Post some pictures, please.

Edited by - RioStat on 11/19/2019 17:20:30

Nov 19, 2019 - 5:22:31 PM

52859 posts since 12/14/2005

Welcome aboard.

The more pictures, the better our advice will be.

Front, back, inside, tailpiece, tuners.

Nov 19, 2019 - 7:46:56 PM

4 posts since 11/19/2019

Sorry but the pictures didn't upload on the original post. I will upload them as soon as I can figure out why they did not load. The banjo is the same as the one in the first link from RioStat.

Has the following serial number stamped into the back of the head stock - FW-255

Thank you for the responses. I'll get pictures as soon as I can.


Nov 19, 2019 - 7:52:04 PM

4 posts since 11/19/2019

Test - upload from phone.


Nov 19, 2019 - 8:02:34 PM

4 posts since 11/19/2019

Ok. That worked. Here are a few more.


Nov 19, 2019 - 8:45:47 PM

52859 posts since 12/14/2005

"Good heavens, Watson! Those photos are SHARP and CLEAR!"

-S. Holmes-

"I'll drink to that!"

-J. Watson MD, FRCS-

Nov 20, 2019 - 5:03:06 AM

1843 posts since 10/17/2013
Online Now

Thanks for the photos!

The banjo looks cleaner than I expected. You’ve got a keeper for sure!

Nov 20, 2019 - 5:21:32 AM

4398 posts since 11/20/2004

The Spann book indicates the FW serial number prefix was used in 1940, mostly on instruments sold to Montgomery Ward.

Nov 20, 2019 - 5:51:03 AM
Players Union Member



5005 posts since 10/12/2009

Nice Kalamazoo, one piece flange, full thickness rim. 

If you lean towards 5 string banjo music (Bluegrass, old-time, clawhammer, or classic) that banjo would make a nice, light-weight conversion.

Nov 20, 2019 - 6:02:36 AM

598 posts since 5/19/2018

So, whatever you paid for it, it’s worth a lot more.

Nice instrument. Pretty rare as Kalamazoo banjos go. There was a thread here about a year ago on a similar instrument, just in a five string configuration.

Have fun with it.

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