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ORPHEUM NO.1 BANJO MADE BY RETTENBERG UND LANGE. NEW YORK USA ????

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Mar 28, 2020 - 2:35:42 PM
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Bella416

South Africa

8 posts since 2/10/2020

Looking to buy collectible banjo. Would like a bit more information about this guy (link below). Any idea of when it was manufactured? Seller wants $120.

dotmusic.co.za/en/collectibles...-usa.html

Mar 28, 2020 - 3:03:12 PM
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2348 posts since 3/30/2008

An Orpheum no 1 is an excellent instrument, & a give away deal at $120. However, there are many issues of condition that need to be looked at, (warped neck, bad tuners, cracked heel & many more. There is also the issue of such a low price being an indicator of a badlly messed up banjo ) . The best thing would be a hands on inspection if you can,

Mar 28, 2020 - 3:17:24 PM
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deineko

USA

36 posts since 4/12/2010

$120 - It's a steal, the price on eBay is 5 times more. Grab it.
I had a mandolin-banjo by the same company, the same style neck and same pot, ~10-1/4 in diameter.
It's made in 1910's in NY.
Original banjo had cow hide. Mine was over-dried and broke, so I put a Remo Fyberskyn. The next issue I had was the neck head broke off due to the string over-tension (my fault.)
So, I converted it to 5-string A-scale banjo. An interesting detail about the pot - it has a metal ring which adds such an interesting sounds.
You can see my banjo and hear it here: https://youtu.be/nYHv9jPpAxY

Good luck!

Edited by - deineko on 03/28/2020 15:19:51

Mar 28, 2020 - 3:49:32 PM
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2153 posts since 4/7/2010

A steal? Only if you can do the work to make it playable yourself. I imagine banjo mechanics are few and far between in South Africa.

Things that will likely be needed to make the Orpheum #1tenor banjo playable; Geared tuners, neck reset (orpheums are notorious for having poorly fit dowelsticks) neck straightening, dismantling and cleaning, new head, gluing or replacing of loose veneers under the fretboard, and maybe even a replacement fretboard as the original ebonized hardwood fretboards Rettberg & Langs used often decompose.

So sure, it has a good rim to have a new neck made, but again, who can do that sort of work in a country where banjos are not common.

Bob Smakula

Mar 28, 2020 - 6:20:11 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23446 posts since 6/25/2005

Agree with Bob. I note that the seller did not show the full fingerboard, nor a side view of the neck.

Mar 29, 2020 - 3:05:21 AM

4648 posts since 3/22/2008

"Any idea of when it was manufactured?"

Range = 1917 - 1921.  Probably ca. 1919.

Mar 29, 2020 - 5:28:44 AM

deineko

USA

36 posts since 4/12/2010

quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula

A steal? Only if you can do the work to make it playable yourself. I imagine banjo mechanics are few and far between in South Africa.

Things that will likely be needed to make the Orpheum #1tenor banjo playable; Geared tuners, neck reset (orpheums are notorious for having poorly fit dowelsticks) neck straightening, dismantling and cleaning, new head, gluing or replacing of loose veneers under the fretboard, and maybe even a replacement fretboard as the original ebonized hardwood fretboards Rettberg & Langs used often decompose.

So sure, it has a good rim to have a new neck made, but again, who can do that sort of work in a country where banjos are not common.

Bob Smakula


It certainly can be true, besides $120 there is not the same as in the US. Yet, for someone who wants a collectible banjo rather than readily playable instrument it's quite a deal

Mar 29, 2020 - 6:06:21 AM
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7070 posts since 8/28/2013

These are nice banjos if they are in good condition, but they rarely are, and when they are not in good condition they can be very difficult to repair.

I'd be very careful. Look at the banjo in person; the pictures are too few and not clear enough to determine many potential issues, such as those Bob Smakula has mentioned.

Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 03/29/2020 06:06:50

Mar 29, 2020 - 7:56:02 AM

5317 posts since 12/20/2005

Capetown, S.A.

What a beautiful and historical city.

It's my dream to one day go there.

I would positively take Bob Smakula's advice in mind about the banjo.

Have a great day.

Mar 29, 2020 - 4:41:19 PM

DSmoke

USA

833 posts since 11/30/2015

I would not call an Orpheum No. 1 with standard head size a collectible banjo. At least not in the US, and I am a huge Lange fan. I have one, and I also have a No. 1 12" head. Personally, I would go for a No 3 12" head. That is a beautiful banjo!

Mar 29, 2020 - 6:18:15 PM

rcc56

USA

2757 posts since 2/20/2016

Actually, $120 sounds cheap to me even if the fingerboard is in bad shape. The pot alone should be worth more than that.

Mar 29, 2020 - 6:49:34 PM

rcc56

USA

2757 posts since 2/20/2016

But yes, if it does have problems, it might cost quite a bit to get it into shape.

Apr 13, 2020 - 4:52:11 PM

Bella416

South Africa

8 posts since 2/10/2020

Thanks so much everyone. You've all been incredibly helpful in my search! :)
I'm still on the lookout: banjohangout.org/classified/80659

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