Any ideas on a reasonable going rate for an SS Stewart No 2 Universal Favorite in pretty good condition? Someone is asking $900 for one and that seems pretty high to me. I am usually wrong about this type of thing though, so asking if anyone knows. Last one I noticed that sold was at Elderly and it sold for $475.
Edited by - budbennett on 12/27/2020 15:44:47
For comparison, Bernunzio has one on offer right now for $600, which seems like a more reasonable price.
Universal Favorites were made for 20+ years. That is like asking, "how much is my Toyota Corolla in pretty good condition worth?" There is just not enough information.
Post photos of all the usual angles and markings. Use good lighting and the focus function on your camera/phone.
For $900 I would want 95%+ left on the orignial frets. A good clean fingerboard with no missing inlay, a solid neck joint with nothing funny done with shims, hole enlarging, holes added, or neck resets. A straight neck with zero angle. Orignial tailpiece. And a rim that has not had the plating polished off of it.
From the photos you posted I cannot tell what the tailpiece is. I can't judge the fret or rim plating. In fact, I can't really tell anything about the condition except for the missing inlay in the peghead.
I would be more comfortable in the $400 to $600 range on this one provided that it has not been "updated for modern playing".
The ebony top bridge did not exist until the early 1920s, almost three decades after this banjo was built. It was developed to resist the damaging effects and added tension of wire strings for pick playing. The wide bottom supports were added to prevent the tension from causing the bridge to sink into the head.
I am not sure when the center support was added, that might be a good research project.
This banjo would have come with a bridge like the woodcut below.
Replace that missing piece of inlay and play it!
Right. It came with this bridge, which is probably not the original because it is not branded but it is on the right time period. I put the ebony bridge on it when I was experimenting with string height.
The measurements of this bridge for width match what you have on your website about the original Stewart bridge.
Other than that missing moon inlay in the headstock it really and truly looks great to me. I kind of wondered about changing the head since it's so filthy but I hesitate to change anything about it yet.
Thanks for the information.
Edited by - budbennett on 01/03/2021 19:38:10
Interestingly, I just noticed that the original bridge that came with it is marked $0.10. as in the ad you just posted. Pretty interesting.
Notice that on your bridge that the feet flare out to make larger contact surface with the head. That added width was designed to combat increased pressure on the head when wire strings and pick playing became common. The small feet of the common pattern during the classic era would sink into the head (or so it was claimed).
While interesting, your bridge is much later than the banjo and is likely from the 1920s+.
But that does not matter as bridges are replaceable and during the era that this banjo was built they were considered somewhat disposable. It is unusual to find an original bridge with a banjo.
'Deering Maple Blossom' 28 min
'Knee Deep in Bluegrass' 34 min