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Jul 11, 2020 - 1:53:52 PM
94 posts since 3/2/2004

If somebody wanted to learn claw hammer back in the early 1950's what if any commercial open back brands where available or did you just have to use a resonator banjo

Jul 11, 2020 - 3:09:22 PM
Players Union Member



1081 posts since 1/15/2009

The late 40's and early 50's was the start of Bluegrass, as we know it, and the sales of resonator banjos, which were not new, really took off.   All the fine vintage open back banjos we have now, were just good used banjos in the 50's and readily available.

Edited by - jduke on 07/11/2020 15:11:04

Jul 11, 2020 - 7:34:59 PM
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2975 posts since 2/20/2016

Vega was the only maker of better quality open back banjos to survive WWII. They did make open backs during the fifties, but we can surmise that they didn't make many, because we rarely see any from that period.

Not many folks were playing clawhammer in the fifties. The old-timers already had their banjos; or as Jeff said, there was no shortage of older banjos floating around that were made by Vega, Stewart, Orpheum, and others.

And yes, back then, they were not thought of as "vintage" instruments, they were just good used banjos.

Edited by - rcc56 on 07/11/2020 19:36:39

Jul 12, 2020 - 2:41:49 AM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)


23805 posts since 6/25/2005

Vega,obviously. But there were literally 100s of older used openbacks from good manufacturers. I got hold of a Stewart/Acme. There were Washburns, Lyon & Healys, a few Orpheums and many others.

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 07/12/2020 02:50:58

Jul 12, 2020 - 4:40:07 AM
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2255 posts since 4/7/2010

The old timers did not care if they had an openback or a resonator banjo. Dock Boggs and Wade Ward are good examples of old time musicians that had resonator banjos.

I think one reason that old time banjo players used openback banjos was economics. There were so many 5-string openback banjos that were manufactured in the 1880's through the 1910's that were suddenly unused because of the rise of mandolin, tenor banjo, and finally guitar. The cost of a used 5-string banjo made a lot more sense.

Bob Smakula

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