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Mar 3, 2021 - 1:36:48 AM
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275 posts since 8/11/2007

Vandalism is bad. Also, the "frailing scoop" is a 1960s invention that has nothing to do with traditional music. broken heart


 

Mar 3, 2021 - 3:25:42 AM
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csacwp

USA

2832 posts since 1/15/2014

Agreed. I'll never understand the lack of respect for history shown by some folks. 

Edited by - csacwp on 03/03/2021 03:26:54

Mar 3, 2021 - 4:16:19 AM
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1312 posts since 5/19/2018

I saw that and thought of a recent thread of where folks were discussing adding frailing scoops to existing instruments. My comments were pretty clear - ruins future value.

Then I saw this and got mad. Took a beautiful old instrument and ruined it.

I consider it a form of vandalism also.

Mar 3, 2021 - 5:32:09 AM

294 posts since 11/29/2012

Agreed on all counts...

Mar 3, 2021 - 5:35:01 AM
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854 posts since 5/31/2004

Good points, gentlemen. I concur completely. Although I'm not a 5-string player, it's bothersome to see this type of thing done.

My love for my fellow man precludes me from going into detail about this subject. That is, my fellow banjo players are more important than the instruments.

However, as a lover of vintage tenor banjos, especially early Vega tenors, I must say that those in the majority here certainly do not see things as we see them regarding fine vintage tenors. I very much respect and admire many here who do not see things as I do. But nevertheless, the sentiment introduced by Clifton is most certainly shared by this member!
 

Mar 3, 2021 - 5:53:18 AM
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6081 posts since 9/21/2007

Oh come on... this banjo has been "modernized" for "modern playability" and stuff. You know, better than it just sitting useless because in the original form it is entirely unsuitable for playing "old time banjo." The "modern player" needs scoops to get that "old time sound."

Also, some points about Stradivarius necks, steel strings needed for volume, and so forth.

Did I leave anything out? wink

Mar 3, 2021 - 5:55:33 AM
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369 posts since 4/11/2019

A nice shiny Mylar head might brighten it up a bit.

Maybe glue some "jewels" to the headstock also.

Mar 3, 2021 - 5:59:08 AM
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KCJones

USA

1444 posts since 8/30/2012

What it really needs is an extra ply added to the rim, and then turned to fit a one-piece flange and flathead tone ring.

Mar 3, 2021 - 7:33:34 AM
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Ivor

England

38 posts since 11/18/2020

While we are at it, let’s drop a big block Mopar into a Vintage Bentley!

Edited by - Ivor on 03/03/2021 07:34:38

Mar 3, 2021 - 7:53:38 AM
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2060 posts since 2/12/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Knows Picker

A nice shiny Mylar head might brighten it up a bit.

Maybe glue some "jewels" to the headstock also.


I use top frosted Remo heads on all my vintage banjos because in my opinion they are quite simply better than any alternative I have found, otherwise, I agree fully, that banjo has been vandalised !

Mar 3, 2021 - 8:34:36 AM
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rcc56

USA

3405 posts since 2/20/2016

I've seen a lot worse. At least this modification is reversible.

It would take a few hours work to restore the fretboard to its original condition. The fingerboard can be removed from the 14th fret upward, and a new piece of wood grafted in.

Any competent builder can do the work, or any repairman who is tooled up to cut fret slots.

Mar 3, 2021 - 11:03:58 AM
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275 posts since 8/11/2007

Pertinant info from George Gibson:

The popular [old time] banjo of today was basically designed by Kyle Creed: it has a short scale, a 12" head and a "scoop" at the end of the neck. Kyle Creed, whom I met, played over the end of the neck, he was the only player I saw do this. Kyle very seldom played below the fifth fret so he used a higher bridge to make it easier for him to play over the neck. Ray Alden took a banjo to Bob Flesher and had him put a scoop in the end of the neck so he could play over the neck with a lower bridge, this was likely the first  scoop banjo. 

Contrary to popular belief, the "scoop" seen on minstrel era banjos does not seem to be related to the modern frailing scoop fad. The early "scoops" fell out of fashion by c. 1880 and there is no indication that they were designed to be played upon. In other words, it was an aesthetic feature, not a technical one, and represents an entirely separate branch of banjo evolution. 

Mar 3, 2021 - 11:18:54 AM

KCJones

USA

1444 posts since 8/30/2012

I've got a Bart Reiter banjo, probably the last Dobaphone he ever made. I seriously regret not paying the extra money to get it custom made with a full fretboard. I want to bring it in and have the fretboard fixed, but I hate to modify it like that.

Same with my Wildwood. Scooped at the 15th fret! Yeah. Who even does that.

I do have an old 1890s "Wullitzer Cincy" banjo, where the frets don't go all the way to the rim. It almost seems like a scoop, except it's not really "scooped", it just doesn't have frets. It also doesn't even have a fretboard, just frets in the neck, so I'm not sure if it counts at all. 

Also, frailing scoops are U-G-L-Y. Just, terrible terrible aesthetics. Give me a full fretboard every day of the week.

Edited by - KCJones on 03/03/2021 11:20:46

Mar 3, 2021 - 12:05:20 PM
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6081 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by KCJones

I've got a Bart Reiter banjo, probably the last Dobaphone he ever made. I seriously regret not paying the extra money to get it custom made with a full fretboard. I want to bring it in and have the fretboard fixed, but I hate to modify it like that.

Same with my Wildwood. Scooped at the 15th fret! Yeah. Who even does that.

I do have an old 1890s "Wullitzer Cincy" banjo, where the frets don't go all the way to the rim. It almost seems like a scoop, except it's not really "scooped", it just doesn't have frets. It also doesn't even have a fretboard, just frets in the neck, so I'm not sure if it counts at all. 

Also, frailing scoops are U-G-L-Y. Just, terrible terrible aesthetics. Give me a full fretboard every day of the week.

 


Your Cincy banjo, and others from the era, were likely not fretted at the end due to poor "false" strings.  Leaving the higher register fretless would allow the player to adjust intonation for false (uneven in thickness) strings.  This is also why you will seldom (if at all) see a three octave neck before 1893. 

The famous Henry Dobson patent uses a metal extension plate to increase the gamut of the instrument longer than the fingerboard.  The plate is removable to allow easy replacement of the head without removing the neck.  These were mostly smooth for the same reason. 

If you make or sell banjos, you don't want people (who don't know better) to bring it back and complain. 

They might ship it with true strings but as soon as the buyer replaces them they will complain about their banjo being fretted wrong.  This was a big problem for makers, so it seems like the answer was to just not fret the fingerboard fully.  These partially fretted fingerboards are usually found on lower end banjos for an amateur market.  Amateurs would be the ones to complain as experienced players would understand false strings. 

False strings might have been the reason Stewart promoted smooth arm banjos for so long. "I recommend smooth fingerboards and professional frets, I'll make it with raised frets but don't say I did not warn you" is what I think was the real reason. 

Mar 3, 2021 - 12:07:12 PM
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KCJones

USA

1444 posts since 8/30/2012

The Wullitzer Cincy is a low-end catalogue banjo, so that makes sense. Thanks for the knowledge, Joel.


Clifton Hicks I found the ad. It looks like he's using your YouTube video to help sell it. Makes sense, that's the video that made me want one.

9 bidders already. I'm gonna stay out of this one.

Edited by - KCJones on 03/03/2021 12:11:26

Mar 3, 2021 - 12:35:24 PM
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275 posts since 8/11/2007

quote:
Originally posted by KCJones


Clifton Hicks I found the ad. It looks like he's using your YouTube video to help sell it. Makes sense, that's the video that made me want one.


Well, then I must commend him for his excellent taste in musicians in spite of his awful taste in organology.

Mar 3, 2021 - 2:07:31 PM
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AldenS

Canada

113 posts since 10/23/2017

I can't help but wonder why the issue seems to be particularly with the fact that the modification is a non-"traditional" scoop, because the banjo in question isn't a "traditional" instrument to begin with.

Yes, the scoop is a modern invention, but whether or not it has anything to do with "traditional" music seems entirely moot to me given that this was a banjo made for (and largely purchased by) the northeastern middle class for playing classic banjo music. It would surprise me if more than 5% of these banjos had ever been played in a "traditional" music context before around 1960. I'm sure a few of these made their way into appalachia back in the day, but I strongly suspect they would be the exceptions that would prove the rule. So why the emphasis on whether or not the scoop is "traditional"?

Edited by - AldenS on 03/03/2021 14:16:15

Mar 3, 2021 - 3:02:08 PM

csacwp

USA

2832 posts since 1/15/2014

quote:
Originally posted by AldenS

I can't help but wonder why the issue seems to be particularly with the fact that the modification is a non-"traditional" scoop, because the banjo in question isn't a "traditional" instrument to begin with.

Yes, the scoop is a modern invention, but whether or not it has anything to do with "traditional" music seems entirely moot to me given that this was a banjo made for (and largely purchased by) the northeastern middle class for playing classic banjo music. It would surprise me if more than 5% of these banjos had ever been played in a "traditional" music context before around 1960. I'm sure a few of these made their way into appalachia back in the day, but I strongly suspect they would be the exceptions that would prove the rule. So why the emphasis on whether or not the scoop is "traditional"?


This is true, though I think you are underestimating how many of these things were sold in other parts of the US and abroad (classic banjo was hardly limited to the northeast). 

One could argue that classic banjo is a tradition in its own right that has been passed down from generation to generation.  Some aspects of it would even qualify as an oral tradition. 

Mar 3, 2021 - 3:13:30 PM
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AldenS

Canada

113 posts since 10/23/2017

quote:
Originally posted by csacwp
quote:
Originally posted by AldenS

I can't help but wonder why the issue seems to be particularly with the fact that the modification is a non-"traditional" scoop, because the banjo in question isn't a "traditional" instrument to begin with.

Yes, the scoop is a modern invention, but whether or not it has anything to do with "traditional" music seems entirely moot to me given that this was a banjo made for (and largely purchased by) the northeastern middle class for playing classic banjo music. It would surprise me if more than 5% of these banjos had ever been played in a "traditional" music context before around 1960. I'm sure a few of these made their way into appalachia back in the day, but I strongly suspect they would be the exceptions that would prove the rule. So why the emphasis on whether or not the scoop is "traditional"?


This is true, though I think you are underestimating how many of these things were sold in other parts of the US and abroad (classic banjo was hardly limited to the northeast). 

One could argue that classic banjo is a tradition in its own right that has been passed down from generation to generation.  Some aspects of it would even qualify as an oral tradition. 


Maybe so. I'd actually be very keen to know more about what the sales and distribution networks were like at the time.

Indeed, one could indeed say the same of classic banjo, regarding it being a tradition in its own right, but it is certainly not the tradition that the OP and most others have been referring to re: scoops, which is what I was getting at.

Edited by - AldenS on 03/03/2021 15:17:06

Mar 3, 2021 - 3:50:16 PM
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KCJones

USA

1444 posts since 8/30/2012

I think aside from "traditional", the main issue is that these banjos are a piece of history and should be preserved as close to their original state as possible. Putting a scoop on a Luscomb is destroying a tiny piece of history. Gibson TB-1s aren't traditional either, but it's still a damn shame when people cut them up for a flathead tone ring. Even with the scoop issue, like I said I don't like the scoop on my Wildwood or Bart Reiter but I won't add more frets because I want to keep them original.

That Luscomb can be repaired. I hope whomever buys it fixes it.

Mar 5, 2021 - 4:16:39 AM

2770 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

Wow! What “zeal”! This statement is partially true. “It’s your banjo...” until you want to sell it. This site offers advice to banjoists who want this modern adaptation to easier playing with flailing a banjo, aka claw hammer.

Wasn’t it this site which picked the best luthier and tone ring to use on that TB < 7 and not Mastertone? To cut a rim and orphan the TB neck is part of the badge of being a luthier. “Everybody” wants their “prewar” wannabe.

I wonder if surgeons hung up their amputation human parts like we hang the orphaned necks. Nothing is sacred to a capitalist. When money is involved, any mod is justified.

I never viewed any video of past greats who clawhammered need a scooped fret board. Uncle Dave Macon, Doc Boggs, and Ralph Stanley were quite successful adapting to clawhammer when fingers couldn’t two- or three-fingered pick.

Most clawhammer YouTube offerings show more scooped banjos than not. Instead of ordering a customized banjo, let’s modify my relative’s banjo. Banjos are not free unless inherited.

For certain, the market exists and demands a scooped banjo. For those enthusiasts, this will sell. While the market is “hot”, modifications must meet the demand.

It is your banjo even when you sell it. Will a buyer agree with our modifications is when our asking price is accepted. That is what we all want.

Mar 6, 2021 - 6:26:29 AM

151 posts since 4/19/2011

I'm pleased to read the comments re: scoops. My opinion, as a banjo nut (who began playing way before he ever SAW a scooped neck) if you want a scoop, go to Baskin-Robbins.

I recently bought a Vega Tubafone 3 plectrum whose serial numbers on the "pot" and dowel stick matched! I once owned a Weyman plectrum that had a fifth string added to the long neck. paid $25 for it. The wood screw used to attach the 5th string was the worst case of banjo mangling I've ever seen. I bought a "raw" neck and made it at least presentable. The only time I have ever "modified" a banjo and even then it was more a case of repairing severe damage. I sold it for $125. I lost money because the neck alone cost that much. It was playable, though.

Mar 6, 2021 - 6:48:34 PM
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126 posts since 7/27/2006

Personally I don’t like to see the scoop being rendered on a nice old banjo. But, bottom line is, the owner can do whatever they want to on their property. Vandalism is a bit to harsh a word I believe and I realize it’s a personal feeling. But, If indeed it is vandalism, what can be said about the many,many, many folks on this site, that have taken off perfectly fine tenor or plectrum necks only to replace them with new 5strings then off to the “ parts for sale” section of the classifieds goes the original necks. And, those Gibson folks out there cutting down original pots to install different tone rings etc etc.? Are we to also label these folks vandals too? If yes, then we’ve sure got a lot of them here on BHO. It makes the owners happier to have what they want. Value wise, it might make them more valuable because of the “ vandalism”?
... Scoops. Traditional? The word traditional is a broad one. How far do you want to go back to label the banjos we now play, or the styles we choose to play, as non traditional? 200 years from now, folks may very well be saying how traditional scoops are. .....When folks come to me wanting to scoop out a nice old collectible banjo, I’ll try to talk them out if it or try to buy it. But, if they’re adamant, I’ll do it for them. If it makes the owner happy, and after he’s made aware of the consequences- devaluation, loss of originality etc. I’m okay with making a customer happy. Happy is good. Bob Flesher made Ray Alden happy ??

Mar 7, 2021 - 5:57:28 AM
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903 posts since 2/17/2005

I'm with Don - mainly just that I don't personally care for scoops on my own banjos but several have them because the makers put them there! I don't begrudge someone their personal choices on banjos they own BUT I definitely cringe at what seem like poorly informed or badly executed choices. Again, those people own the banjos so they make the choice. I personally don't find scoops aesthetically wrong and I don't think historical instruments are statically bound to their original purpose. Still, I do think this is why there are several parallel markets for instruments: collectors, players, strict reproductions, etc.

I do currently own a carved heel Tubaphone #3 (with its original pot) that had the fingerboard completely monkeyed with before I got it (mainly and inexplicably shaving off most of the 22nd fret). Scooping was a solution to minimally fix the original board. If someone had the time and money to restore, it would only look right with a new fingerboard with a shorter scale length (because of the shortened fingerboard). Neither ideal, and of course, its not a museum piece and doesn't have the same collector value. But it plays and sounds incredible!

Mar 7, 2021 - 5:59:13 AM
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jayaw

USA

43 posts since 2/22/2018

I totally agree that this banjo is worse for the wear. I certainly wouldn’t have done it.

At the same time, I’m going to go ahead and stick my neck out to say that I’m also not crazy about taking such an overbearing and disdainful tone toward anyone who prefers a “modern” instrument on which to play “traditional” music.

I really like and respect Clifton’s approach, but it’s not like his is the only acceptable way to play or think about the banjo. Some folks choose to be “preservationists” and that’s great; others (most) choose to go in a different direction. And yes, as is human nature, a lot of people ride the wave of whatever is in fashion (anyone here use the internet?) without thinking too much about it either way. IMO, that’s ok.

In a word: Don’t destroy an old Luscomb, and don’t destroy other banjo players, either.

(PS: I really do appreciate learning the history, too – “this is the way it was(n’t) back when...” I just don’t think we have to be bound by the past, and I definitely prefer not to be condescending toward folks who do/think differently.)

Edited by - jayaw on 03/07/2021 06:00:12

Mar 7, 2021 - 7:48:12 AM
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275 posts since 8/11/2007

quote:
Originally posted by jayaw

I totally agree that this banjo is worse for the wear. I certainly wouldn’t have done it.

At the same time, I’m going to go ahead and stick my neck out to say that I’m also not crazy about taking such an overbearing and disdainful tone toward anyone who prefers a “modern” instrument on which to play “traditional” music.
 


People who find the truth "disdainful" may be suffering from personal problems beyond the scope of this discussion... 

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