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Apr 20, 2021 - 6:30:17 PM
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4 posts since 4/20/2021

Inherited 55 years ago, Dobson Martin Brothers Patent year 1878 5 String 9 1/4' hoop Banjo, came without head skin has all hardware, no tailpiece, bridge and only one original ebony peg, always wanted to get in working order and learn to play! I have a wood lathe and can turn more pegs? or do I replace with mechanical tuners, I cant find this size replacement head, and what tail piece do I buy ( for metal or gut strings)?


Edited by - minerwelder on 04/20/2021 18:39:28

Apr 20, 2021 - 7:42:10 PM

lapsteel

Canada

520 posts since 8/13/2015

Contact Bob Smakula . He is a member here. He’ll fix you up with all you need. Since there is no reinforcement in the neck, you would be safer with nylon strings. Fiddle pegs are tricky to turn. You might consider buying a set of fiddle pegs. That is a real nice looking banjo by the way! I believe it is a zither banjo.

Apr 20, 2021 - 8:23:35 PM

1448 posts since 2/9/2007

Zither banjos, of similar appearance but somewhat different construction, showed up a couple decades later in England.

You do NOT want to put steel strings on that banjo!

Wooden friction pegs, like those originally on that banjo, are not at all "tricky", if they're correctly fitted and used with nylon or gut strings. IMO you should either use those, or "Pegheds" , which are internally geared tuners which look like ebony friction pegs-- they do work very well, but are a good bit more expensive.

You won't find a plastic head to fit that banjo, but mounting a skin is not hard to do.

A modern banjo tailpiece will not work, and a modern style bridge will be barely usable at best.

Do contact Bob Smakula, and Joel Hooks, too.

Apr 21, 2021 - 2:27:28 AM

1325 posts since 5/19/2018

I’ll second and third what was stated above.

NO steel strings on that instrument. Gut or synthetic only.

Please reach out to Smakula fretted instruments for the pegs, head and strings. Joel Hooks can get you a proper bridge for the instrument.

Your banjo is pretty rare. Would be very nice to get it up and running to spec.

You might want to post a few pictures or questions in the collectors corner section here. You will get a ton of info about your instrument relayed back to you from many others here. Some may even have some of the parts you need.

Apr 21, 2021 - 3:33:45 AM
Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

9863 posts since 1/22/2003

If it's a zither banjo, the 5th, 2nd and 1st strings should be steel. For the 3rd string nylon can be used, for the 4th wound nylon (or silk).

I'm not sure, however, that this is a zither banjo. Peghead with violin pegs very different… Fretless…

Edited by - Emiel on 04/21/2021 03:35:47

Apr 21, 2021 - 3:41:45 AM

Ivor

England

45 posts since 11/18/2020

Wooden friction pegs, like those originally on that banjo, are not at all "tricky", if they're correctly fitted and used with nylon or gut strings.

Dan, I think Lapsteel meant that fiddle pegs were tricky to turn on the lathe rather than the peg head...but I could be wrong!

Apr 21, 2021 - 4:42:55 AM

8430 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Emiel

If it's a zither banjo, the 5th, 2nd and 1st strings should be steel. For the 3rd string nylon can be used, for the 4th wound nylon (or silk).

I'm not sure, however, that this is a zither banjo. Peghead with violin pegs very different… Fretless…


It's not a true zither banjo and should not be strung as such. NO STEEL on this one!

A violin shop can easily fit proper tuning pegs.

Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 04/21/2021 04:44:35

Apr 21, 2021 - 6:37:54 AM
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6124 posts since 9/21/2007

As has clearly been stated, no wire strings. This is not a zither banjo which did not come along until the 1890s in England (this is a New York built banjo).

I second sending it to Bob Smakula. He and Andy will do a great job, they put a new fingerboard and set the neck to factory flat (no back angle) on a Fairbanks and Cole for me and it was done perfectly and artistically.

They can fit a new calf head and pegs.

If you want to do it yourself, it is not hard. Don't put oil on the wood or "polish" the metal parts (even "non abrasive" polishes are still abrasive). Just clean them. I tend to take metal parts to my sink and wash with dish soap and a soft brush. Renaissance wax is good when you are done cleaning.

Read all you can by searching the Banjo Hangout.

Fitting fiddle pegs requires some tools. If you don't want to buy them for one job, find a violin builder/repairer to fit the pegs (they might have trouble with the 5th).

I recommend using Labella No. 17 for strings. The nylgut polyester strings are no good. Your 4th string should be wound over floss like the bass strings on a Spanish Guitar.

Since you seem to be a wood worker, make your own bridge. It should be half an inch tall. Below are some wood cuts for inspiration.

The original tailpiece was metal. Do some internet research to see examples. You won't find an original, so you could fabricate one out of metal or wood like the images below. Use a hard wood like maple and stain it black.




 

Apr 21, 2021 - 6:39:56 AM
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6124 posts since 9/21/2007

For learning to play...

I have scanned a large number of instruction books, including those by members of the Dobson family here...

https://archive.org/details/@joel_hooks

All free for download.  

Apr 22, 2021 - 7:56:26 AM

261 posts since 1/26/2020

quote:
Originally posted by minerwelder

Inherited 55 years ago, Dobson Martin Brothers Patent year 1878 5 String 9 1/4' hoop Banjo, came without head skin has all hardware, no tailpiece, bridge and only one original ebony peg, always wanted to get in working order and learn to play! I have a wood lathe and can turn more pegs? or do I replace with mechanical tuners, I cant find this size replacement head, and what tail piece do I buy ( for metal or gut strings)?


I've got a very specific question about this Dobson Martin Bros 1878 banjo; is the rim, which is connected to the resonator, touching/resting on the dowel Rod? Is it attached to the dowel? Or is it suspended over the dowel?

Apr 22, 2021 - 4:50:28 PM

261 posts since 1/26/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

For learning to play...

I have scanned a large number of instruction books, including those by members of the Dobson family here...

https://archive.org/details/@joel_hooks

All free for download.  


Hire did you find these? Do you own original copies? I'm actually going to attempt one or two when I get my 1867 back.

 Blaine

Apr 22, 2021 - 6:41:04 PM
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6124 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by tbchappe
quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

For learning to play...

I have scanned a large number of instruction books, including those by members of the Dobson family here...

https://archive.org/details/@joel_hooks

All free for download.  


Hire did you find these? Do you own original copies? I'm actually going to attempt one or two when I get my 1867 back.

 Blaine


I have bought many (for very little-- I am often the only bidder). Some were given to me.  Some were sent to me to scan and post-then return to the owner.  A few were posted by a University with free access for years, until recently they hid them behind a registered student wall.  A couple were scanned and the digital file was sent to me to post.

Scanning and posting assures that this stuff won't disappears and people can access it.  Far too much has ended up in the dump when a collector has died and his family has no ideal what to do with all that junk.  There is not much $$$ value in it (if any).

Apr 24, 2021 - 7:32:42 AM

4 posts since 4/20/2021

quote:
Originally posted by tbchappe
quote:
Originally posted by minerwelder

Inherited 55 years ago, Dobson Martin Brothers Patent year 1878 5 String 9 1/4' hoop Banjo, came without head skin has all hardware, no tailpiece, bridge and only one original ebony peg, always wanted to get in working order and learn to play! I have a wood lathe and can turn more pegs? or do I replace with mechanical tuners, I cant find this size replacement head, and what tail piece do I buy ( for metal or gut strings)?


I've got a very specific question about this Dobson Martin Bros 1878 banjo; is the rim, which is connected to the resonator, touching/resting on the dowel Rod? Is it attached to the dowel? Or is it suspended over the dowel?


Apr 24, 2021 - 7:33:56 AM
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4 posts since 4/20/2021

It is sitting on top of it but not attached to it!

Apr 27, 2021 - 4:29:27 AM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

13909 posts since 8/30/2006

Joel Hooks: thanks for your diligent work to preserve, perpetuate and perform this music. I'm calling you out in a positive way, smile once.
You are always modest. Many times being the only bidder, go straight ahead, it's great for the community.

I've been thinking about some wooden straight pull tailpieces.

Apr 27, 2021 - 4:31:26 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

13909 posts since 8/30/2006

minerwelder Welcome to the hangout, fun, huh?
Thank you for sharing this find. We would very much like to hear the living banjo when it's done.
stewmac.com has pegs and a $100 peg shaper,

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