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Dec 1, 2020 - 7:21:25 PM
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1067 posts since 3/21/2013

hello there,
been watching this metal pot banjo. Headstock looks like Buckbee or Dobson, but i'm very curious about the pot. Has anyone seen anything similar? It reminded me a bit of the Dobson metal pot, but the top tensioning hooks aren't quite the same. Home made job?










 

Dec 1, 2020 - 7:22:34 PM

1067 posts since 3/21/2013

a few more:




 

Dec 1, 2020 - 7:40:32 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

24240 posts since 6/25/2005

Interesting....

Dec 1, 2020 - 7:50:59 PM

1067 posts since 3/21/2013

I posted in a FB group as well, and two members seem to be leaning towards Dobson. Is there any documentation of the variations on the metal clad banjo pots? I have only seen ones with this type of tensioning with different hooks and attachments.

Dec 2, 2020 - 4:18:09 AM
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2442 posts since 4/7/2010

The armrest looks like a Kluson number 79 mandolin tailpiece. Does the tailpiece cover come off? That may indicate the neck is not original to the rim, as Kluson was not parts manufacturer in the 1880's when the neck appears to have been made. But the armrest  could have been added at a later time.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com

Dec 2, 2020 - 5:15:34 AM

1206 posts since 5/19/2018

That is certainly an interesting pot. The pot looks old, early 1870’s or so given the types of nuts on the hooks.

I’m doubtful that the neck is original to the pot. If you look closely at the photo, directly under the heel of the neck appears to be a screw hole for neck attachment.

Never seen an arraingement like that before, so that’s all I’m going to venture on it.

Dec 2, 2020 - 5:38:01 AM

Brett

USA

2405 posts since 11/29/2005

I know I have seen that peghead shape before but can’t recall. But, I think that is an inexpensive 4 string neck converted to 5 string neck. I see no parts that would convince me to jump more than the money I’d plan on a wall decoration. But, I don’t know the really old boys well. I have a cheap buckbee neck laying around with similar heel.

Dec 2, 2020 - 5:58:50 AM

5833 posts since 9/21/2007
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Brett

I know I have seen that peghead shape before but can’t recall. But, I think that is an inexpensive 4 string neck converted to 5 string neck. I see no parts that would convince me to jump more than the money I’d plan on a wall decoration. But, I don’t know the really old boys well. I have a cheap buckbee neck laying around with similar heel.


You have seen it on 900 Buckbee banjos.

Sorry, I have nothing to offer.  I will say that a banjo is only a "Dobson" if it is stamped as such.  

Dec 2, 2020 - 5:59:57 AM
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8032 posts since 8/28/2013

That armrest, as Mr. Smakula speculates, looks to me, too, like a mandolin tailpiece. That makes it not original (although using a tailpiece for an armrest is an original idea). 

That, and the replacement tuners, tends to call the entire banjo into question. Is it all from the same instrument? Are other parts add-ons? Are the pot and the neck even from the same banjo?

Dec 2, 2020 - 6:10:32 AM
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1671 posts since 1/13/2012

The neck is certainly of Buckbee origin. The rim may be as well. There were a large number of patents for this general style of "clothes protector" rim, including one by the Dobsons. It's quite possible that one of those patent holders had Buckbee make a run of their design, as the Dobsons did with an overwhelming number of the instruments they sold.

Dec 3, 2020 - 9:03:46 AM

1067 posts since 3/21/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula

The armrest looks like a Kluson number 79 mandolin tailpiece. Does the tailpiece cover come off? That may indicate the neck is not original to the rim, as Kluson was not parts manufacturer in the 1880's when the neck appears to have been made. But the armrest  could have been added at a later time.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com


agreed. When I get it in my hands I will see. I am hoping it wasn't attached to the pot in any way that would be damaging. I thought it was some weird armrest, but now i think you are exactly right. the bar is most likely an add on to. obviously its not an all original banjo. Just trying to figure out which parts are from where. ultimately its a parts banjo

Dec 3, 2020 - 9:07:15 AM

1067 posts since 3/21/2013

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

That armrest, as Mr. Smakula speculates, looks to me, too, like a mandolin tailpiece. That makes it not original (although using a tailpiece for an armrest is an original idea). 

That, and the replacement tuners, tends to call the entire banjo into question. Is it all from the same instrument? Are other parts add-ons? Are the pot and the neck even from the same banjo?

 


agreed. I bought it knowing full well it is a "parts banjo" (however the neck and pot and possibly tailpiece looked old enough to garner enough interest from me as at least all being pre 1900.) It's obviously been tinkered with by someone and set up to be played to their liking. I am hoping once it's in my hands I will be able to determine a bit more on who did what and what parts, if any, are marked anywhere. the seller didnt seem to have much information

Dec 3, 2020 - 9:09:15 AM

1067 posts since 3/21/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Andy FitzGibbon

The neck is certainly of Buckbee origin. The rim may be as well. There were a large number of patents for this general style of "clothes protector" rim, including one by the Dobsons. It's quite possible that one of those patent holders had Buckbee make a run of their design, as the Dobsons did with an overwhelming number of the instruments they sold.


thanks. I have been able to find some similar patents, but nothing exactly. this almost looks like an "inbetween" the ealier 1860's design and later 1870's design after following a few leads folks gave me and what I could dig up on the internet.

Dec 3, 2020 - 10:45:26 AM

1067 posts since 3/21/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Brett

I know I have seen that peghead shape before but can’t recall. But, I think that is an inexpensive 4 string neck converted to 5 string neck. I see no parts that would convince me to jump more than the money I’d plan on a wall decoration. But, I don’t know the really old boys well. I have a cheap buckbee neck laying around with similar heel.


i'll disagree with you on the neck as I have found a few examples of this type of neck and the fifth peg carving matches some of the older pieces. Tenors (4 string necks) were introduced much later than the manufacture of this neck IMHO. 

Dec 5, 2020 - 2:13:19 AM

1671 posts since 1/13/2012

quote:
Originally posted by jun3machina
quote:
Originally posted by Brett

I know I have seen that peghead shape before but can’t recall. But, I think that is an inexpensive 4 string neck converted to 5 string neck. I see no parts that would convince me to jump more than the money I’d plan on a wall decoration. But, I don’t know the really old boys well. I have a cheap buckbee neck laying around with similar heel.


i'll disagree with you on the neck as I have found a few examples of this type of neck and the fifth peg carving matches some of the older pieces. Tenors (4 string necks) were introduced much later than the manufacture of this neck IMHO. 


You are correct... the decorative carving in the 5th peg area does sort of make it look like wood was added to make it a five string. But it is original.

Dec 5, 2020 - 1:29:11 PM

1067 posts since 3/21/2013

So banjo arrived and its a weird hodge podge. I went over it, and while i cant be certain, it seems to me that the previous owner did a neck reset and brought the neck up about 1/2" from its original spot. It appear the neck is original to the pot. There's a ghost image of it in its previous position the exterior of the pot (the heel round matches exactly), as well as the square shape "ghost" in the patina on the interior of the pot. The tailpiece attachment seems to have been moved and a small section cut out if the dowel to accommodate the new position. The armrest is indeed a mandolin tailpiece. It is the only stamp i can find (exterior reads PAT MAY 15 94 and underneath the cover, the piece soldered to the post reads PATED OCT 26 85). Im not sure if the frets are original. Or exactly what purpose the small fine tuners? on the strings are for. The bridge looks very old and/or handmade. The tailpiece was made out of a can or something and theres embossed advertising letters in black on the backside. Im tempted to remove these light guage steel strings, and pop nylguts on just so i can take that off to see. If theres any stamping at all its hidden underneath the tension hoop or on the heel. I cant find any markings so its still unknown. Shub capo installed too with good working non original tuners




 

Dec 5, 2020 - 1:39:27 PM

1067 posts since 3/21/2013

Some more pictures, the patina is just super nice. and i think the previous owner put some subtle love into this banjo to match the silver and gold details. Its been well played and the action is super low in its current state.




 

Dec 6, 2020 - 5:44:24 PM

1285 posts since 3/1/2012

An interesting find--always fun trying to guess a banjo's past history.
Post a video when you have it up and playing!

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