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Jan 19, 2021 - 3:55:54 PM
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9 posts since 1/19/2021

I was lucky enough to inherit the beautiful banjo shown in the pictures, about which I know nothing and can find no information online at all, nor can I find similar instruments. I even contacted Barnes and Mullins who were unable to provide any further information except to
suggestt that it may have been the style that was made in the 60s or early 70s. The one fact I do know is that it is at least 45 years old. Any help identifying it would be much appreciated, thank you.




 

Jan 19, 2021 - 4:36:17 PM
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821 posts since 11/27/2005

That's a great looking banjo!

Jan 20, 2021 - 12:50:23 AM

3216 posts since 4/29/2012

Interesting banjo. tunnelled 5th 5 string with straight sided 19 fret neck. Easy way to maintain 5 strings in the product line when tenors ruled ? More and better photos (side of pot, inside with resonator removed, close up of back of tuners) may help. I'd possibly place this sort of MOTS bling in the 30's rather than 70's.

Jan 20, 2021 - 12:57:06 AM

1545 posts since 4/25/2007

I agree with Andrew. Barnes and Mullins reaction doesn't surprise me. I would think made by Abbott.

Jan 20, 2021 - 4:29:59 AM

9 posts since 1/19/2021

Thanks to all who responded with appreciation and good suggestions.
I'll add more pics to improve chances of identification.




 

Jan 20, 2021 - 4:37:27 AM
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9 posts since 1/19/2021

More pics




Jan 20, 2021 - 4:45:48 AM
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9 posts since 1/19/2021

A few more pics!






Jan 20, 2021 - 6:23:16 AM

1545 posts since 4/25/2007

Good photos. Could you also take one showing one of the tension hook nuts ? Also it would be interesting to know the measurement from the nut to the 12th fret also the width of the nut. Looking at the general construction, the pot, hardware, tailpiece, Grover tuners, neck brace it certainly looks like the work of J. Abbott of London. J. Abbott Snr. had strong connections with B & M and made a lot of the banjos stamped Barnes and Mullins The faux pearl is perhaps a somewhat acquired taste though. Also I wonder why the middle tuner is mismatched ?
Maybe a jazz age influence ? It looks in remarkably good order. Those Abbott 22 hook pots sound great even without a raised rod ring. One last thing is the side of the pot also covered with plastic ? Hard to tell from the photo.

Edited by - Stephen John Prior on 01/20/2021 06:25:53

Jan 20, 2021 - 7:32:31 AM
Players Union Member

boyer

USA

28 posts since 7/8/2009

The offset tuners were chosen to set the buttons as far apart as possible, and the center one
chosen because it makes the buttons an equal distance from one another.

Jan 20, 2021 - 8:09:02 AM

5954 posts since 9/21/2007

If the rim is 12" in diameter then 19 frets is normal. The marking at the 15th is interesting for a British banjo.

Jan 20, 2021 - 11:19:50 AM

9 posts since 1/19/2021

As requested, more pics.
Nut to 12th fret is approximately 11.35" (28.8cm) - scale length ~22.7"(56.6cm).
Nut width ~1.35" (34.5mm).
Inner diameter (i.e. skin) 11.25" Outer diameter a bit under 12".
Overall length ~34"
Depth ~4"
Back cover ~13.75"
The body is not covered with pearloid, it's metal.
The whole instrument is solid and heavy!




Jan 20, 2021 - 1:16:14 PM

1545 posts since 4/25/2007

Photo confirms they are the standard pattern Abbott tension nuts. Measurements point to this being a Tenor scale although I think the nut measurement is wider than a tenor nut. So it's a little mystery. Did someone order it to this specification or is it a repurposed Tenor ? Maybe someone asked for a 5 string version !
I notice that at some point the dowel has been repositioned slightly to the left. Would that have been something to do with accommodating the 5th string ?  Although I don't really see Abbott letting it leave the workshop like that.

Edited by - Stephen John Prior on 01/20/2021 13:22:14

Jan 20, 2021 - 1:48:39 PM

Jbo1

USA

992 posts since 5/19/2007

It looks like where it enters the tunnel the fifth string is not sitting on the "pip" which will raise it above the frets. Otherwise you will get buzzing on that string. A pretty banjo. Would love to hear how it sounds.

Jan 20, 2021 - 7:08:30 PM
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1248 posts since 5/19/2018

Very interesting instrument. Love these British builds.

I’ve not seen those type of Grover tuners before.

I’m no expert on British instruments, but it would be safe to say that is a custom one off instrument.

Superb!

Jan 21, 2021 - 4:17:52 AM

1545 posts since 4/25/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Alvin Conder

Very interesting instrument. Love these British builds.

I’ve not seen those type of Grover tuners before.

I’m no expert on British instruments, but it would be safe to say that is a custom one off instrument.

Superb!


I'm not certain but I think the 4 outer tuners are an earlier pattern than the central one which could point to it being a later conversion. Also the first string is set very close to the edge of the fretboard !

Jan 21, 2021 - 11:56:05 PM

921 posts since 1/30/2019

It would be interesting to hear what this sounds like, and feel how it plays. Abbott Snr stopped making instruments in 1936 apparently. It looks very 1930s to me.
If this is the same one as is on UK eBay I think the price is not realistic, and you'll be very lucky to get 1/3 of that. It's obviously a high quality instrument, but it's an oddball. Oddballs / one offs made by more valuable / fashionable makers can be quite a bit more valuable. And I guess the oddness of this makes it worth more than a standard 5 string by Abbott Snr. (Not that we know it is Abbott Snr.) If it's not the one on UK eBay , don't be fooled by that price! (I'm not interested in buying BTW.)
But I'd love to hear it!

Jan 22, 2021 - 12:40:23 AM

3216 posts since 4/29/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Andyrhydycreuau

It would be interesting to hear what this sounds like, and feel how it plays. Abbott Snr stopped making instruments in 1936 apparently. It looks very 1930s to me.
If this is the same one as is on UK eBay I think the price is not realistic, and you'll be very lucky to get 1/3 of that. It's obviously a high quality instrument, but it's an oddball. Oddballs / one offs made by more valuable / fashionable makers can be quite a bit more valuable. And I guess the oddness of this makes it worth more than a standard 5 string by Abbott Snr. (Not that we know it is Abbott Snr.) If it's not the one on UK eBay , don't be fooled by that price! (I'm not interested in buying BTW.)
But I'd love to hear it!


Can't find it on UK ebay. You got a link ? Cheers.

Jan 22, 2021 - 2:32:59 AM

1545 posts since 4/25/2007

ebay.co.uk/itm/Beautiful-rare-...438.l2649

Here it is Andrew.

Thanks for pointing out the Ebay listing Andy. I'm pretty certain it was originally from the Abbott shop and I'm more and more drawn to the view it's a converted tenor.  

Edited by - Stephen John Prior on 01/22/2021 02:42:44

Jan 22, 2021 - 3:55:30 AM

3216 posts since 4/29/2012

I think you are right. Looking at the photos the 5th is spaced ok vis-a-vis the 4th. But if it was put on the octave pip it would be far too close. I'm sure there's an interesting story behind the successful removal and replacement of the MOTS fingerboard and headstock overlay and binding to install the tunnel (unless the 'conversion' was done during assembly). But we'll never know. Not at £3500 anyway.

Jan 22, 2021 - 3:58:39 AM

deke46

Australia

120 posts since 8/30/2009

Hi guys,
I tend to agree with Steve about it being a repurposed tenor. I think it`s what was called a Lyratone, I have a Lyratone banjo mandolin on my website,(vintagebanjosaustralia.com.au ), and although the m.o.t is absent, all the other features tie in. With the exception I would say of the flange and resonator, I think they may be ring-ins, the tension bolts don`t line up with the piercing of the flange, compare the the two to see the difference.
However, I have to say that the BM is the loudest, clearest and sweetest tone of any b/m I`ve ever heard bar none. The construction is of the highest quality as you would expect from Abbott.
Cheers,
Deke.

Jan 22, 2021 - 5:34:22 AM

3216 posts since 4/29/2012

quote:
Originally posted by deke46

Hi guys,
I tend to agree with Steve about it being a repurposed tenor. I think it`s what was called a Lyratone, I have a Lyratone banjo mandolin on my website,(vintagebanjosaustralia.com.au ), and although the m.o.t is absent, all the other features tie in. With the exception I would say of the flange and resonator, I think they may be ring-ins, the tension bolts don`t line up with the piercing of the flange, compare the the two to see the difference.
However, I have to say that the BM is the loudest, clearest and sweetest tone of any b/m I`ve ever heard bar none. The construction is of the highest quality as you would expect from Abbott.
Cheers,
Deke.


Corrected link http://vintagebanjosaustralia.com/instruments.htm

Jan 22, 2021 - 6:18:56 AM

1545 posts since 4/25/2007

quote:
Originally posted by deke46

Hi guys,
I tend to agree with Steve about it being a repurposed tenor. I think it`s what was called a Lyratone, I have a Lyratone banjo mandolin on my website,(vintagebanjosaustralia.com.au ), and although the m.o.t is absent, all the other features tie in. With the exception I would say of the flange and resonator, I think they may be ring-ins, the tension bolts don`t line up with the piercing of the flange, compare the the two to see the difference.
However, I have to say that the BM is the loudest, clearest and sweetest tone of any b/m I`ve ever heard bar none. The construction is of the highest quality as you would expect from Abbott.
Cheers,
Deke.


Thanks Deke I don't know why I didn't look on your site earlier. Pretty much the same neck construction. As you say Abbott was a high quality maker which makes me doubt it would have left the premises with the shortened dowel stick and added bracket. They've even left the pencil line on to mark the dowel position to stop the 1st string running off the fretboard.

Edited by - Stephen John Prior on 01/22/2021 06:24:24

Jan 22, 2021 - 6:54:33 AM

9 posts since 1/19/2021

Thanks to everyone for your useful information and suggestions.
Sounds like Abbott may well have had a hand in this banjo.
I've added a couple of shots of items found in the case.




Jan 22, 2021 - 6:58:11 AM

9 posts since 1/19/2021

Some items found in the case that might help with the identification of this banjo!




Jan 23, 2021 - 1:28:55 AM

1545 posts since 4/25/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Krokket

Some items found in the case that might help with the identification of this banjo!


Doesn't really tell us much David apart from maybe it hadn't traveled far from where it was made, NW1 to E17. I think we have pretty much proved it was made by J Abbott although it may have been made in the 20's. At that time some of the top American makers were using Pearloid plastic and it was usual practice English makers would copy them. Barnes and Mullins policy was to order a makers standard model with fancy upgrades and examples can be seen made by Abbott, Windsor etc. Regarding the conversion sadly it's not possible to say who, when or why. I do think it would be a far more useful instrument returned to it's original purpose as a Tenor.  It would certainly cut through in a New Orleans jazz band for sure and certainly look the part.

Jan 23, 2021 - 5:16:03 AM

deke46

Australia

120 posts since 8/30/2009

Looking at banjophilessite there is a note that Clifford Essex used the same design pot on one of their high end models. :-)

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