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Any ideas who might have made this melody banjo ?

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Sep 17, 2020 - 1:08:05 PM
1581 posts since 12/26/2007

Any ideas who might have made this melody banjo ? Gretsch ? Lange ?

13 7/8" scale, 10" pot, 12 frets to the pot, 17 frets total.
Pot wall is 1/4", single scarf joint, maple veneer, square flesh hoop
Tone ring similar to Little Wonder, skirt goes down approx 1" outside pot
Joseph Rogers & Son X X X hide head
Cobra hooks, grooved tension hoop, Champion tuners
no maker's marks, 8-string tailpiece w/ cloud cover
2-piece neck, single thick center lamina (coming apart)
peghead front looks like that dyed pearwood that falls apart, similar to Stewart outline
Star in peghead, other inlays very plain












Sep 17, 2020 - 1:37:43 PM

746 posts since 5/31/2004

It looks like a Rettburg & Lange. Eagerly awaiting correction.

Sep 17, 2020 - 1:41:07 PM

1581 posts since 12/26/2007

Hey Mike - I was hoping you might weigh in ! ! I've seen a description of a Lange melody banjo w/ similar peghead outline that was described as 12 frets to body & 17 frets overall. The pot seems less substantial than other Lange work that I've seen. This one is well made but in fairly rough shape.

Sep 17, 2020 - 1:52:35 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23958 posts since 6/25/2005

R & L is my reaction too. We'll see who else weighs in.

Sep 17, 2020 - 3:15:06 PM
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2336 posts since 4/7/2010

The peghead is a Rettberg & Lange, but the hardware has more of a Gretsch look to it. I lean towards Gretsch, but we will likely never know.

Bob Smakula

Sep 17, 2020 - 3:23:57 PM
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2336 posts since 4/7/2010

quote:
Originally posted by Mark Ralston


Cobra hooks, grooved tension hoop, Champion tuners
 


The hooks on this banjo are known as "Flat Hooks". Cobra hooks are significantly wider at the top.

 

Bob Smakula

Sep 17, 2020 - 8:31:31 PM

Banjo Lefty

Canada

1991 posts since 6/19/2014

Looks like a banjo ukulele.

Sep 17, 2020 - 8:36:59 PM

55652 posts since 12/14/2005

With a banjo mandolin tailpiece.

Sep 18, 2020 - 5:23:43 AM

1581 posts since 12/26/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula
quote:
Originally posted by Mark Ralston


Cobra hooks, grooved tension hoop, Champion tuners
 


The hooks on this banjo are known as "Flat Hooks". Cobra hooks are significantly wider at the top.

 

Bob Smakula


Hey Bob -  tnx for weighing in.  When you or Andy opine, the BS-to-fact ratio is as low as it gets.

Consensus is leaning toward Lange for at least some of the instrument.

I'm curious about the difference between "flat" and "cobra" hooks.  I went through about 5 pounds of j-hooks and picked out the widest flat-ended hooks, picture below.  The hooks on the left are from the melody banjo (0.140" shaft, 0.213" hook. 32 tpi), and the widest hooks in my box are on the right (0.163" shaft, 0.250" hook, 26 tpi).  There's a visible difference in width, plus the wider hook flares out towards the end whereas the melody banjo hook ends are not as flared.   Would you call the 0.250" hooks "cobra" ?   


 

Sep 18, 2020 - 5:43:04 AM
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2336 posts since 4/7/2010

The hooks on the right of your picture are what I would call a "cobra hook". The hooks on the left are a little wider that the standard flat hooks, but not wide enough to be called a cobra hook.

Bob S.

Sep 18, 2020 - 6:47:06 AM
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hbick2

USA

259 posts since 6/26/2004

Mark,

Here are some typical cobra hooks on a Whyte Laydie No. 7.


Sep 18, 2020 - 9:09:36 AM
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1629 posts since 1/13/2012

I'd say Gretsch. They sometimes used that peghead shape, though its not as common on their instruments as others.

Sep 18, 2020 - 12:01:29 PM
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7722 posts since 8/28/2013

Come on, you guys. This is obviously a Vega product because it once had a star inlaid in the headstock. devil

Sep 18, 2020 - 12:12:39 PM

1581 posts since 12/26/2007

C'mon George...... you're messing with the BS-to-fact ratio for this thread..... ;)

Sep 18, 2020 - 12:29:27 PM
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746 posts since 5/31/2004

It's either a Vayga or a Veega, I'm not sure.

Sep 18, 2020 - 1:18:34 PM
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746 posts since 5/31/2004

quote:
Originally posted by vintagetenor

It's either a Vayga or a Veega, I'm not sure. 

Sorry, Mark!  It's just the Veega in me. :)


Sep 18, 2020 - 1:26:38 PM
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5596 posts since 9/21/2007

It is a S. S. Stewbert banjo made by Henry Dobson Buckabee. I can tell from the peg head shape.

Sep 18, 2020 - 1:46:30 PM

1581 posts since 12/26/2007

I'm pretty sure it's not one of these....... And the BS meter just pegged full-scale......


 

Sep 18, 2020 - 3:08:06 PM
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4725 posts since 3/22/2008

Mark - I have a fairly large collection of Melody Banjo photos and looked through them when you began this thread. No matches.
Your peghead shape seems very, very familiar but when I look at my banjo photos I don't see a match.
However, I once owned a Mango biggie pot banjo and photographed it.
Attached are three pics (the number allowed).
Since we haven't found a match among the usual suspects I wonder if your banjo is from an off brand??


Sep 18, 2020 - 4:40:55 PM

1581 posts since 12/26/2007

John - tnx for the input. I think my latest "find" is a well-made orphan. While I was looking up melody banjos, I found a few references to banjo-mandolins strung with 4 instead of 8 strings. I think the Vega Style K banjos could be bought with 4 or 8 strings. Anyway, that brought to mind the time when Curly Miller and Carol Ann Rose came into my booth at Clifftop and had a session with some banjo mandos. I think someone mentioned stringing a banjo-mando with 4 strings....... they sure seemed to know what they were doing ! ! ! I learned about setting up a banjo-mando bridge to accommodate someone who plays with aggressive "attack".

Sep 18, 2020 - 6:37:06 PM
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7722 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by beezaboy

Mark - I have a fairly large collection of Melody Banjo photos and looked through them when you began this thread. No matches.
Your peghead shape seems very, very familiar but when I look at my banjo photos I don't see a match.
However, I once owned a Mango biggie pot banjo and photographed it.
Attached are three pics (the number allowed).
Since we haven't found a match among the usual suspects I wonder if your banjo is from an off brand??


Is a mango banjo anything like a guava banjo, or is it more like a fig banjo? 

Sep 19, 2020 - 7:04:40 AM
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4725 posts since 3/22/2008

Mark - Difficult to say when banjo mandolinists began to string with just four strings but it was somewhat prevalent 1911+ (The Tango came to town 1911) to early 1920's. The Melody Banjo was a dance band instrument. Vega stated its purpose in their 1920 catalog (attached). The earliest commercial Melody Banjo I've found was a Bruno's product cataloged in 1914. (attached). By 1917 you could even get a Melody Banjo mail ordered from Sears. (attached) Wm. L. Lange coined the name "Melody Banjo" in 1922 and for us nowadays the name stuck. By that time, however, the Melody Banjo was going out of style. My favorite example is this S. S. Stewart brand that I think was made in the Keen-O-Phone factory in Frankford, Penna. It has a certain "thrown together" vibe that sort of exemplifies the Melody banjo era.
[Apoligies for photos lying on side - I cannot get them to stand upright here on BHO]


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