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Fairbanks Electric on reverb

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Aug 12, 2020 - 9:10:18 AM
166 posts since 1/26/2020

I'm really interested in one of these Fairbanks Electric banjos. Based on my reading, it's the banjo that really pushed them passed SS Stewart with the scalloped tone ring.

As far as the description with the it being early based on the #74 on the stick and rim, I'm skeptical. Being that it was picked up in South Korea is also a point of skepticism. Just wondering what others thought. The price seems high, but again, I'm still in the learning prices and market.
The Fairbanks & Cole that I have is probably my favorite banjo to play, and of course it has no tone ring. I like it more than my Universal Favorite and much more than my Thoroughbred, which I'm selling at a lessons learned loss. I like the Stewart's, I just like the F&C more. I often fall into that, "more money than sense," category, because I'm always eager. And I ain't rich, so it's a real problem.


Edited by - tbchappe on 08/12/2020 09:12:46

Aug 12, 2020 - 10:23:36 AM

2441 posts since 3/30/2008

....the origin of the resonator on banjos ?? ( I'm always skeptical of long narratives about company history,  tangential & questionable facts, in lieu of a detailed description of the actual condition, & specs).

Edited by - tdennis on 08/12/2020 10:24:29

Aug 12, 2020 - 10:52:31 AM



3114 posts since 2/20/2016

The instrument appears to be pretty much all there and in nice condition.

As far as florid descriptions are concerned, lots of people oohed and aaahed when Stan Jay did it and inserted a lot more bs than this seller. And while I don't see how the introduction of the tone ring had a direct influence on the development of resonators, the introduction of the electric tone ring was a major step forward in the development of banjos in general.

Aug 12, 2020 - 11:39:16 AM

13271 posts since 10/30/2008

Sure looks very interesting!

Aug 12, 2020 - 12:45:22 PM
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1067 posts since 5/19/2018
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I don’t buy the Vietnam bit, but you never know. I recently mentioned in another thread that my Brother saw for sale in either Cuba or Peurto Rico years ago an instrument that he described to me as a old Gold Plated old Gibson. Also mentioned that I near killed him when he told me he didn’t buy it. So you never know where these things will turn up

The instrument looks very interesting to me. I absolutely love those Handel style friction pegs. Never saw examples of those before. Much less a complete set.

If it is what it seems to be, and not totally mucked up, that price to me seems pretty fair for an older Electric that appears all original.

Before I jumped on it I would contact the seller and talk, person to person on the phone and get better details.

If you go for it, please post more pictures.

Aug 12, 2020 - 1:18:58 PM

63 posts since 12/6/2019
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The inlay looks strange to me, almost like some old Lyon and Healey banjos I've seen, particularly the bull at the first fret. Possible that the fretboard and overlay are replacements? I'm definitely not an expert so trust others here but I dont think I've ever seen a Fairbanks with inlay like this one.

Aug 12, 2020 - 5:24:04 PM

166 posts since 1/26/2020

Holy cow, he may not know much about it, but he bought it from someone who sure as heck does.


Aug 12, 2020 - 6:37:41 PM
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1719 posts since 4/10/2005

The seller is mis-using banjo terms in a most caution-inducing manner. This seller's blurb (or blab) is nothing like those of the late Stan Jay or the corporeal Bob Smakula, which are waggish but painstakingly banjo-erudite. The scalloped ring being "the origin of the resonator in banjos" is pure gobbledygook, and there is other weird stuff in there, too.

I see no mention there of South Korea; the reference is to Ho Chi Minh CIty,Vietnam.

You wouldn't want to touch this without an opinion from someone like Bob Smakula, or for that matter Bernunzio, which is a mere hour and 15 minutes from the Buffalo location listed by this seller. If it's authentic, some of these instruments have bow or twist to the neck. It seems pretty grotty for the asking price and the description is hinky as hell.

Edited by - ceemonster on 08/12/2020 18:39:13

Aug 12, 2020 - 7:05:24 PM

166 posts since 1/26/2020

I'm sorry, I don't know why South Korea was in my head when I wrote that. I meant Vietnam. Maybe it's all the Korea I hear on NPR news.

I thought it interesting that he bought the banjo from Jim Bollman.
Can anyone tag Jim to verify?

Maybe I'll try @Jim Bollman


Edited by - tbchappe on 08/12/2020 19:07:34

Aug 12, 2020 - 7:08:10 PM

166 posts since 1/26/2020

Aug 13, 2020 - 4:07:51 AM

Bill H


1370 posts since 11/7/2010

i think the Vietnam reference is regarding the water buffalo horn tuning pegs included. It really does look in good condition for its age, but the pictures are pretty bad. I purchased an 1898 Electric several years ago from Bernunzio. I had several phone conversations and asked questions, but still found the condition of the banjo was not as described. Buying a banjo without putting your hands on it is always risky.

There is a really nice 1922 Electric listed in the Hangout classifieds at a good price. I have a 1924 Senator with the same wood and inlay pattern and I love the way it plays. The 19th century banjos have some history, but they often require a bit of TLC to get them into playable shape.

Aug 23, 2020 - 10:41:17 AM

166 posts since 1/26/2020

I went for the Fairbanks. After a lot of deliberation and messages back and forth, I was able to get him to come down $300 on the price. I look forward to getting this. Jim Bollman also gave me some peace of mind on the item. Thanks Jim. I'll post pictures, and I'll most definitely be playing it.


Aug 31, 2020 - 12:04:36 PM

10820 posts since 10/27/2006

"1922 Electric listed in the Hangout classifieds at a good price. I have a 1924 Senator with the same wood …"

My early '20s Senator and cir. '24 Electric necks appeared identical. The hardware was different with the Senator having 26 brackets, a grooved tension hoop, 27" scale and 10 15/16" pot. The Electric was the Standard 26" scale and 10 11/16" pot but with 28 brackets and a notched hoop — as it should have been.

Aug 31, 2020 - 12:17:08 PM
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55455 posts since 12/14/2005

Sure hope it turns out well.

When I saw the topic title, I was THINKING that it was going to be a sound file or video of some electrified banjo played through a device which added reverb.

But, back THEN, electricity was an AMAZING NEW THING, and banjos with no electric parts were called "ELECTRIC", as attention getters.

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