Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!
Jul 11, 2020 - 6:50:04 PM
like this
1093 posts since 3/1/2012

Also posted this on Mandolin Hangout...
I just got a banjo mandolin with elaborate inlay on the fretboard. I am assuming the inlay is not original, since the peghead inlay seems simpler. The instrument does not have any maker's marks. It does have what seems to be an Orpheum tone ring. My question is, is the shape of the tailpiece a clue as to the maker?
I'm assuming the instrument is from the teens or 20s...


Jul 11, 2020 - 6:50:55 PM

1093 posts since 3/1/2012

Photo of the tone ring:


Jul 11, 2020 - 8:50:30 PM

2411 posts since 3/30/2008

This is certainly reminiscent of an Orpheum no1, w/ several different features, (the peg head shape, neck, tuners, heel & number of hooks are like a no 1, but the fancy fretboard, neck brace, dowel pole & pot thickness (maybe),  & pot cap are different.  Your instrument does not seem to have the archtop of an Orpheum.  This could be an R&L product, but w/ variations made for some  sub contractor

Edited by - tdennis on 07/11/2020 21:05:00

Jul 11, 2020 - 9:02:49 PM

1093 posts since 3/1/2012

Some really gorgeous birds-eye maple veneer on the inside and outside of the pot, by the way.

Jul 11, 2020 - 9:16:30 PM
likes this

3182 posts since 5/29/2011

The tailpiece is referred to as a cloud tailpiece. They were used a lot on early Gibsons but were not exclusive to that brand.

Jul 11, 2020 - 9:30:56 PM

38 posts since 2/4/2010

The fingerboard is probably imported from the Orient- possibly the work of Tony Tsai.

Jul 12, 2020 - 4:27:30 AM

2242 posts since 4/7/2010

The tailpiece was manufactured by Kluson. As that firm was founded in 1925 and the banjo-mandolin looks a little older, the tailpiece is likely not original.

I agree with Jim Bollman on the provenance of the fretboard.

The original parts of the instrument have a Rettberg & Lange vibe.

Bob Smakula

Jul 12, 2020 - 6:41:56 AM

991 posts since 5/19/2018

The pictures are not clear, but I’m going with Bollman on this one. Pretty much looks like a 1920’s R&L with new fingerboard from Antonio Tsai.

Some of his work from the 90’s was pretty detailed and got close to being what I would call near quality work.

I used to buy his finger boards and turn them into picture frames or give them as random gifts to my banjo playing friends. Always brought a smile.

If the frets are in the correct place for intonation, I’m sure you have a fine player there. Heck, it’s a banjo mandolin, I never in my life heard anyone who could keep one of those in tune.

Jul 12, 2020 - 7:34:53 AM
likes this

1093 posts since 3/1/2012

Thanks everybody! Always liked the sound of banjo-mandos for playing ragtime tunes.

Jul 12, 2020 - 8:44:53 AM

1878 posts since 1/4/2009

It looks identical to my Orpheus banjo mando, minus the name of course. Lange product for sure

Jul 12, 2020 - 9:10:18 AM

7382 posts since 8/28/2013

The tone ring is not Orpheum and the tailpiece is pretty ubiquitous. I've seen very similar "cloud" tailpieces on many instruments made before 1925. The early Vega "K" had a cloud tailpiece riveted to the tension hoop, and I've seen one on a Fairbanks bowl-back mandolin from the 1890's.

Jul 12, 2020 - 10:18:45 AM



2929 posts since 2/20/2016

I don't know how common the cloud tailpiece was on mandolin banjos, but it was very common on mandolins.

It was the standard tailpiece on just about all Martin mandolins through their entire production history, except some of the early bowl back instruments. It was also standard issue on most Vega mandolins, Larson mandolins, and many Chicago made mandolins.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories