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Is this an old Saga/StewMac kit banjo?

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Apr 14, 2020 - 2:56:24 PM
12 posts since 12/26/2018

I bought my first banjo at a pawn shop in Omaha, NE on a whim. After 10 years of picking it up on and off, I've gotten more into actual bluegrass picking and recently upgraded (because this banjo is an archtop aluminum, I got clued into old Colorado Odes and ended up getting a later Baldwin/Gretsch era Ode!). Anyways, I need to find a new home for this guy and am wondering if anyone can help me identify the make? When I was in college in Missoula, I took it to Greg Boyd who helped me place the bridge and sold me some strings. He told me he thought it was a mix of Asian parts assembled sometime in the 1970s and that it played a lot better than the price I got it for or could get a new banjo for at the time. He also made it sound a lot better than I could at the time! Others have told me they thought it was an Iida 230 or 232 from the same era with some customization. After listing it on here, someone messaged me to let me know the resonator, at least, is off an Alvarez Denver Belle. As far as the other parts go, I'm thinking they may have come from a kit or scavenged from other instruments. Any of you experts know if this has the hallmarks of a Saga kit banjo?

Edited by - tinyhousebanjo on 04/15/2020 12:54:10

Apr 14, 2020 - 2:57:41 PM
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jwold

USA

1182 posts since 7/21/2004

It does look like a Stew-Mac kit banjo.

Apr 14, 2020 - 3:51:09 PM
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195 posts since 7/2/2012

I have a similar banjo. Has the same trim/binding on the front edge of the resonator - a wood marquetry style strip.

Does it have the same marquetry under the edge of the fretboard on both sides? I cannot tell from the pics.  

If it does, I’ll get some pictures posted up of mine. Mine is an older Saga banjo.

Edited by - Shmockiebaby on 04/14/2020 15:51:36

Apr 14, 2020 - 5:02:05 PM
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2195 posts since 4/7/2010

No doubt a Saga kit banjo. 2 things confirm for me. First the shape of the tensioning nuts. Second is the small hex screws that hold the shoes.

Plenty of other details I would notice if there were more pictures. But that is not necessary. I think it being a Saga kit banjo made in Japan is well established.

Bob Smakula

Apr 15, 2020 - 7:57:40 AM

12 posts since 12/26/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula

No doubt a Saga kit banjo. 2 things confirm for me. First the shape of the tensioning nuts. Second is the small hex screws that hold the shoes.

Plenty of other details I would notice if there were more pictures. But that is not necessary. I think it being a Saga kit banjo made in Japan is well established.

Bob Smakula


Thanks for the confirmation, Bob! Here are some more anyway! After diggin on here a little bit yesterday afternoon, I suspected this was built around Saga parts. It has surprisingly nice tone for the modest components, but I'm guessing they don't fetch a whole lot... Would I be best off selling as parts? 




 

Apr 15, 2020 - 8:25:52 AM
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2195 posts since 4/7/2010

quote:
Originally posted by tinyhousebanjo
Thanks for the confirmation, Bob! Here are some more anyway! After diggin on here a little bit yesterday afternoon, I suspected this was built around Saga parts. It has surprisingly nice tone for the modest components, but I'm guessing they don't fetch a whole lot... Would I be best off selling as parts? 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

That depends on how you value your time. Sell the banjo as it is for $150, or sell the parts for maybe $175.  I say Just sell the banjo as is and not worry about it.

 

Bob Smakula

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