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Ben Eldridge Banjo (What is he playing?)

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May 25, 2020 - 10:44 AM
5 posts since 5/15/2020

I’ve always wondered what banjo did Ben Eldridge play on all those old seldom scene recordings. I found a picture (attached) of him playing what appears to be a 1920’s Gibson RB. I say this due to the fact the headstock says “Mastertone” under the Gibson logo. Any information is helpful.


 

May 25, 2020 - 11:14:05 AM

2061 posts since 4/18/2006

That banjo is a 20's original low profile flathead Style -6 with a conversion neck named "Harvey." Bill Emerson played this banjo with Jimmy Martin. I don't know if Ben got it directly from Bill. It's a great banjo. I know he had an early 30's flathead style -4 and maybe a flathead -3 at some point too

Edited by - banjo1930 on 05/25/2020 11:15:39

May 25, 2020 - 12:10:56 PM

2229 posts since 12/31/2005

quote:
Originally posted by banjo1930

That banjo is a 20's original low profile flathead Style -6 with a conversion neck named "Harvey." Bill Emerson played this banjo with Jimmy Martin. I don't know if Ben got it directly from Bill. It's a great banjo. I know he had an early 30's flathead style -4 and maybe a flathead -3 at some point too


Harvey R. Brassy :-) https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/138608

More:  https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/138608

Edited by - Brian Murphy on 05/25/2020 12:12:36

May 26, 2020 - 7:10:35 AM
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3429 posts since 3/28/2008

A little bit of trivia--Harvey was pictured on the cover of every issue of Bluegrass Unlimited for a good number of years, as part of the title logo.
 

Bluegrass Unlimited August 1978 Red Rector Don Stover Bill Clifton ...

May 27, 2020 - 6:32:03 AM
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1357 posts since 10/5/2006
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quote:
Originally posted by Ira Gitlin

A little bit of trivia--Harvey was pictured on the cover of every issue of Bluegrass Unlimited for a good number of years, as part of the title logo.
 

Bluegrass Unlimited August 1978 Red Rector Don Stover Bill Clifton ...


Right you are, Ira, and as I recall the drawing was done by Mike Auldridge.

May 27, 2020 - 6:54:33 AM
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1357 posts since 10/5/2006
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Harvey's five string neck was made to Bill Emerson's specs by Tom Morgan.
At the same time the checkerboard binding was removed from the resonator cause Bill didn't like it.

Ben Eldridge and Larry Sherertz with Harvey 12-22-2016.  Photo credit Larry Sherertz.


Harvey's Headstock -  Photo credit Larry Sherertz

 

May 27, 2020 - 1:58:12 PM

Jbo1

USA

931 posts since 5/19/2007

Great photos. I've only seen the "Mastertone" letters on fiddle headstocks. Since this was a custom neck, was that addition due to Mr. Eldridge's desire, or were there original Flying Eagle headstocks with that label?

May 28, 2020 - 6:55:52 AM
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1357 posts since 10/5/2006
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quote:
Originally posted by Jbo1

Great photos. I've only seen the "Mastertone" letters on fiddle headstocks. Since this was a custom neck, was that addition due to Mr. Eldridge's desire, or were there original Flying Eagle headstocks with that label?


Bill Emerson had Tom Morgan build the five string neck for "Harvey" in the early sixties.  The peghead shape and inlays were according to Bill's wishes.  The neck was not intended to be a replica style 6 neck and therefore did not include the checker binding of the original 4-string neck.  The checker binding was also removed from the resonator.

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