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Nov 13, 2020 - 10:00:38 PM
63 posts since 2/9/2015

I recently acquired a Bart Reiter Buckbee that is a very nice banjo, but it doesn't have any side dots on the neck. I've never had a banjo that didn't have side dots, and I kinda miss them. I tend to get lost. There is a very reputable banjo builder near me that could probably put some on if I asked nicely. Am I crazy to be thinking about this? Would it devalue the instrument even if done very professionally? I don't plan to ever sell this banjo, but my wife or son will when the time comes. Are all Bart Reiters made without side dots?

Nov 13, 2020 - 10:22:14 PM
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rcc56

USA

3327 posts since 2/20/2016

I have a hard time believing that competently installed side dots would de-value a modern banjo.

Just today, a fellow dropped off a Taylor guitar that was built without a pickguard. He wants to have one installed. It is a steel string guitar, and by sensible standards, it should have a pickguard. But he asked the same question that you did-- would it de-value the instrument?

My response was: If you decide to sell the instrument later and a potential buyer wants to nickel and dime you over a correctly installed pickguard [or side dots] on a modestly priced modern instrument, you're probably better off finding a different buyer.

Now, if I was to put a purple and green pickguard with an avant garde shape on the guitar, that might cause some difficulty with a future sale. So my advice is to go ahead and install your dots and enjoy your instrument. But it might be a good idea to avoid exotic colors or unusual shapes.

Nov 13, 2020 - 10:24:01 PM
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Foote

USA

435 posts since 3/25/2009

I've never played a banjo without side dots and don't think I'd like it. That aside, if you like the banjo except for it lack of dots, I say add them. I assume given your location you're talking about the Hendricks brothers to do the work. I would guess they'd replace the binding. They made me a neck for my ball bearing in the early 80's and it's still straight and true. Good guys also.

Nov 13, 2020 - 10:43:39 PM
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rcc56

USA

3327 posts since 2/20/2016

There is absolutely no reason to replace binding to install side dots. All that is necessary is to drill a shallow hole, insert a piece of plastic "dot rod," clip it flush, level and polish it if necessary, and if you like, put a dab of lacquer or varnish on it. And if your repair person wants to replace the binding to install the dots, find another repair person.

Nov 13, 2020 - 10:48 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

4852 posts since 1/5/2005
Online Now

No, you're not crazy - it simply is something you've gotten used to looking for to orient yourself, and your fingers, there's no problem with that whatsoever.

Consider though: the inlays on the fretboard are far more visible than them tiny teensy side dots. Why not look/focus on those instead as, at the same time, you get to see & verify where your fretting fingers are at, or where they're supposed to be - shouldn't take you more than a few hours for Mr. Brain to get with the program.

When you start playing with others the whole thing will become a moot point anyways because you're probably looking to read the guitar/mandolin players to see what chords they're playing...

If you really feel you must have dots for RIGHT NOW: no prob, how's about stickers or a small piece of green painters tape smiley

Don't over-think it, banjos are all about having fun - go have some already smiley
 

Edited by - Bart Veerman on 11/13/2020 22:53:45

Nov 13, 2020 - 11:05:22 PM
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11072 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Paul Sutherland

. I've never had a banjo that didn't have side dots,

Are all Bart Reiters made without side dots?


You never owned a vintage Vega — these never had side dots.

Mr. Reiter's necks emulate vintage Vega so, guess what?

Side dots competently installed should not diminish the resale value — but you didn't buy it to sell, did you?

By competently installed, I mean of the appropriate size and location and finished so that they look as if they've always been there. Put one at the 10th fret, not the 9th as on many guitars.

It's your banjo — make it work.

 

I never looked at fretboard markers but liked side dots. It never bothered me that my vintage Vegas and Bart Reiter Tubaphone didn't have them. Ok, with one exception. By the late 1950s, Vega was using them as on my Pete Seeger. I have no idea when the change occurred.

Nov 13, 2020 - 11:15:28 PM

63 posts since 2/9/2015

Monte Hendricks is the luthier in question. Great guy! The Buckbee neck is not bound so any side dots would go into the edge of the nice fat ebony fretboard, or perhaps a bit into the cherry neck wood. I'm sure Monte would make it very understated to match the rest of the banjo. I sure don't need any dots at the third or fifth frets, but 7, 10, 12, 15 & 17 would be nice. That's what I see when I play my Deering BG banjo so I'm used to looking for them. I hardly realized I was doing that until they weren't there.

Nov 14, 2020 - 12:49:37 AM

4915 posts since 5/14/2007

Two of my four regularly-played banjos don't have dots. I don't miss them.

Nov 14, 2020 - 1:17:57 AM

m06

England

9596 posts since 10/5/2006

It's your banjo and your playing experience; if you are used to side dots and want them added then do it.

Done competently and in keeping with the design of the banjo I can't see how it would affect value or put a potential buyer off either.

Edited by - m06 on 11/14/2020 01:20:54

Nov 14, 2020 - 1:51:37 AM
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Polle Flaunoe

Denmark

5478 posts since 3/7/2006

quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran
 

You never owned a vintage Vega — these never had side dots.


?????  ALL VEGA´s from the 20s owned by me or passing my workshop do have original side dots.

Only - a few had the bindings replaced in the past - without the dots.  Per request I do always install dots on banjos like this.

Edited by - Polle Flaunoe on 11/14/2020 01:53:07

Nov 14, 2020 - 3:04:49 AM

calfskin

England

39 posts since 5/30/2011

I like side dots but don't forget if playing old time with a capo at the second fret which happens a lot ! the dots are" moved". Practice will help you get used to the new position

Nov 14, 2020 - 3:53:50 AM

2280 posts since 2/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Paul Sutherland

 I sure don't need any dots at the third or fifth frets, but 7, 10, 12, 15 & 17 would be nice. That's what I see when I play my Deering BG banjo so I'm used to looking for them. I hardly realized I was doing that until they weren't there.


I think if I were adding the side dots, I'd still put them on three and five. It might look oddball to have them up the neck and not on 3 & 5

Nov 14, 2020 - 4:28:28 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

13423 posts since 8/30/2006

I am only 75, so my nearsightedness is decreasing, I guess I'm changing dimensions (in more than one way.)

So when I saw the Luna guitars and the phases of the moon inlays.....half in the binding, half in the neck, I now use hardwood bindings to do that.
Red Jatoba fingerboard, Maple binding, Walnut neck, abalone gives a four color presentation, it's pretty to look at.

I now use big 5mm Pau Abalone dots, I rotate them until they light up, then I install them for the player to be able to see in all conditions, like dark caverns, I mean taverns.

Mike, a friend of mine put two nice abalone inlays on his wife's standup bass's neck , just where she used them, so nobody cared about the value, or provenance, just playability.

No one has called me back and said "take these beautiful blue 5mm side dots off my fingerboard, I can see what I'm doing."
I know visually challenged masters play without dots, I'm not a master, I get some dots.




Edited by - Helix on 11/14/2020 04:36:15

Nov 14, 2020 - 5:41:58 AM
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3569 posts since 4/5/2008

I've added them to several of my instruments and all I did was drill a small shallow hole where I wanted them then took a white crayon or Black one and rubbed over the hole till it was filled then I used a soft cloth to polish the area to remove excess and there you go ...Side Dots!

( I  )===='---<: :}

Nov 14, 2020 - 6:39:29 AM
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beegee

USA

22179 posts since 7/6/2005

I have seen brass nails, rhinestones, and even small bits of plastic comb teeth in every color used as position dots. I think a properly-executed dot installation enhances the appearance of the instrument.

Edited by - beegee on 11/14/2020 06:39:45

Nov 14, 2020 - 8:14:03 AM

63 posts since 2/9/2015

I noticed that on the Pisgah custom banjo tool you can choose to have side dots only or side dots and face dots. But they don't offer only face dots. So it seems they feel that side dots are more common and/or desirable than face dots.

Nov 14, 2020 - 10:01:03 AM
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413 posts since 5/29/2015

Did Doc Watson have position markers on the banjo he played?

A few dots of paint would be functional and scrape right off if needed.

Nov 14, 2020 - 11:03:10 AM
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hbick2

USA

302 posts since 6/26/2004

Easy solution. Send the neck back to Bart and have him install them. Then they would be original.

Nov 14, 2020 - 11:23:42 AM

3013 posts since 2/18/2009

I'm not used to using them myself but I've installed side dots in a lot of banjos, and I don't see how it could devalue them if it's done fairly neatly. I have never installed a side dot at the 5th fret on a 5 string banjo because the 5th string tuner would block it from view, and the tuner acts as a kind of giant mechanical dot anyway. I have put them in the 3rd fret, but most often only in 7 and above.

Nov 14, 2020 - 11:29:15 AM

RV6

USA

1398 posts since 2/3/2012

I put side dots on the neck of my Reiter A flat using a very small round bit in a Dremel and a very light touch and they turned out great.  Filled the divot with a dab of white paint on the end of a needle. 

Nov 14, 2020 - 11:51:52 AM

11072 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Polle Flaunoe
quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran
 

You never owned a vintage Vega — these never had side dots.


?????  ALL VEGA´s from the 20s owned by me or passing my workshop do have original side dots.

Only - a few had the bindings replaced in the past - without the dots.  Per request I do always install dots on banjos like this.

 


Never seen one and none of the three I currently own have them. All have original bindings. I no longer own all four of these but the pictures are readily available. The 5 string necks are original.

Early '20s NO 3 plectrum

 

Mid '20s Regent 5 string

 

Another Late '20s Regent 5 string

 

Mid '20s NO 3 5 string

Nov 14, 2020 - 11:54:05 AM
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645 posts since 11/21/2018

You can also experiment before deciding on an inlayed/permanent choice, using stick on dots available from several vendors online. Anything from faux abalone to glow in the dark versions. It's useful for comparing sizes (3mm/5mm) on your banjo.
I used small masking tape triangles for years on an unfinished kit neck, never happy at all with the looks, but it worked until I had a nice neck built.

Nov 14, 2020 - 1:21:35 PM
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hbick2

USA

302 posts since 6/26/2004

You can make some great side dots by punching an old celluloid tortoise-shell pickguard with one of those revolving leather punches.

Nov 17, 2020 - 9:28:45 AM

56645 posts since 12/14/2005

Nov 17, 2020 - 2:38:26 PM

880 posts since 3/23/2006

Temporary dots (although I've had them on my bass for a long time):
Upright Bass players often put stick-on dots on the side (or on the fingerboard). Bass suppliers and others sell them. If they don't come small enough, you can punch out the size you need.

Edited by - hweinberg on 11/17/2020 14:38:47

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