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Feb 17, 2020 - 3:46:27 PM
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93 posts since 12/9/2007

I play claw hammer and want to learn Irish tunes so today picked up this banjo from a estate buyer who thought it was neat. It is dirty and a little rough but straight as an arrow and all the parts are there.He wanted $ 240 but took $ 225. Probably too much but it will fun to clean up and play. It is a Queen with a V shaped neck. The worn down part on the neck shows clearly bird’s eye maple. Might be veneer. When was it made and did I get hosed? I want to shine up the metal....if any chrome was on it , it is long gone... and gently polish the back which I guess is painted..possibly inlaid. Any ideas? Thanks, mark

Feb 17, 2020 - 4:56:37 PM

2896 posts since 5/29/2011

You may have paid as much as it is worth but I don't think you got cheated. It looks to be solid even if it is a little dirty. With a good cleaning you will have a decent player that is a lot better than anything you could buy new for the same price. Slingerland banjos were beginner to intermediate grade instruments but were built very well. Many of them are still in good playable condition after ninety-odd years. Yours was probably made somewhere in the late twenties or the thirties.

Feb 17, 2020 - 6:04:31 PM
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Players Union Member



5140 posts since 10/12/2009

I don't think a neck would be the birdseye is probably real.

Feb 18, 2020 - 5:03:08 AM

181 posts since 2/11/2009

Slingerland was particularly fond of birdseye maple and used it in many rims and necks, even on their cheaper banjos. They used rosewood in their higher-end instruments (and they did make pro-level banjos, just not nearly as many) but the only veneers they used on necks were plastic. The Queen model was one of the cheaper May Bell models throughout the '20s; stylistically, yours is probably from the second half of that decade. Earlier ones had friction tuners and later ones had a celluloid peghead veneer. The hardware is nickel, not chrome, and while it's heavily oxidized, it's still present on the parts.

Feb 18, 2020 - 6:08:19 AM
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3812 posts since 5/1/2003

I also got one at an estate sale,there's a few pics. Mine has lived in a case it's whole life,it had the presto like yours but friction tuners.After I strung it up I realized it sounded really good so I had a Rogue neck mounted,and put John Hartford guage strings on so I could low tune it. I love it!

Feb 18, 2020 - 6:10:26 AM

3812 posts since 5/1/2003


Edited by - Ks_5-picker on 02/18/2020 06:13:06

Feb 18, 2020 - 8:22:10 AM

6857 posts since 8/28/2013

A decent enough banjo. It should sound fine; most Slingerlands do. The back is probably not inlaid, but has a fancy decal imnstead. Be careful polishing that.

One thing you will notice is that Slingerland banjo have rather narrow necks. It can be fairly easy to pull the strings off the edge of the fretboard. Back in the twenties, many banjos used a brdge with narrower slot spacing, which helped that issue.

Feb 18, 2020 - 8:43:21 AM

93 posts since 12/9/2007

I do notice that the fret board is narrow. I have large hands

Feb 18, 2020 - 11:04:08 AM


New Zealand

10879 posts since 6/29/2003
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I had an original 5 string that George Gruhn said didn't exist. The fretboard was quite narrow as was others that I have seen here. However the sound was excellent for clawhammer style, even with a 10 3/4" pot

Feb 18, 2020 - 3:36:18 PM
Players Union Member

Lew H


2415 posts since 3/10/2008

I have a cheap 5-string Slingerland that sounds fine for clawhammer and is loud! The narrow neck and friction tuners are the only problems with it.

Feb 18, 2020 - 4:41:19 PM

93 posts since 12/9/2007

Originally posted by Ks_5-picker
That is a nice looking may bell


Feb 18, 2020 - 5:11:35 PM



820 posts since 11/30/2015

As an Irish trad player and Slingerland fan, my comments are posted to your post over in the Irish playing forum.

Feb 20, 2020 - 3:15:44 AM

3812 posts since 5/1/2003

I shot a video yesterday,here's what my low tuned Slingerland sounds like. I call it my poor man's John Hartford banjo.

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