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Oct 21, 2021 - 2:56:25 PM
469 posts since 10/21/2009

Criteria:
1. Short scale: real close to or 20”
2. 5 string
3. Resonator and detachable (I don’t know the proper terminology here, but real flange and rim; or could be shoe type)
4. 11” head
5. Old or new
6. Tone ring nice but optional (probably)
7. Real instrument for an adult.

I think Trinity River has something kinda… and Gold Tone, currently.

I’m not familiar with historic or lesser known company’s line ups. (No budget for custom build.)

Any come to mind?

Thank you.

Oct 21, 2021 - 3:34:08 PM
likes this

1643 posts since 2/9/2007

Except for the resonator & flange, you're describing a banjeaurine (banjorine). Stewart and others made a bunch of those, mostly during the 1890's. By the mid-1920's, when heavier-rimmed, resonator-equipped banjos hit the market, the vast majority of "legit" banjoists were playing 4-stringers (tenor or plectrum), and nearly all of those playing 5's were traditional rural pickers, who for whatever reasons, never adopted any of those higher- and lower-pitched versions of the instrument which were invented in the late 19th century for ensemble playing.... so you aren't going to find many original-neck-5-string Mastertones or Silver Bells, and ALL of those will have "regular banjo" scale lengths in the 26"-27" range.

Edited by - Dan Gellert on 10/21/2021 15:37:08

Oct 23, 2021 - 11:27:58 AM

rockyjo

USA

469 posts since 10/21/2009

Thanks, Dan.

I thought a banjeurine has a larger head than 11” also, no?
The orig 5 string Mastertones and Silverbells are not in my budget anyway :) .

Well, the reason for the post was that I’m not seeing a banjo as described including the “bluegrass pot”—But, I thought I have somewhere along the way.

I’m sure it wasn’t a custom banjo. Not nearly as old as Dan described, pretty recent, and likely a lower priced instrument when it came out.

Odd that they’re not more common. Apparently it hasn’t registered with other readers yet either. Someone must have seen one; I guess it’s a real hybrid.

RJ

Oct 23, 2021 - 3:31:19 PM

rcc56

USA

3841 posts since 2/20/2016

There's not much that hasn't been tried in the way of banjo sizes and scales.
Yes, at least most of the Stewart banjeaurines had large pots. But Stewart products have been known to vary from standard specs.
Several companies made short scale banjos between 1880 and 1920-- Fairbanks, Cole, probably Lange, and others. How they were built depended on the company, the buyer, and which way the wind was blowing.
I have heard of "C scale" banjos by several modern makers.
At one point, Saga was making "pony banjos." I don't remember the pot size.

Zach Hoyt will make just about anything you want, and at a reasonable price.  And you couldn't find a nicer fellow to do business with.  His base price for a no-frills banjo is under $1000, and you get to choose the scale.  He has made several with a 19 3/4" scale.  He does not currently list resonators as an option, but I suspect that if you were to provide an unfinished resonator, he could finish it to match the rest of the banjo and find a way to mount it.

Edited by - rcc56 on 10/23/2021 15:39:03

Oct 24, 2021 - 8:34:15 AM

1643 posts since 2/9/2007

Yes, ~12" rims were the usual on banjeaurines, but a fair number were more like 11". I was just thinking of how I've never seen a 1920's-60's vintage resonator banjo with a "C-scale" 5-string neck, and why that is the case.

If you want one like that, though, there are loads of good imitation Mastertone pots out there, and a search of the BHO will find you a luthier who can make a suitable neck to fit one, with whatever sort of scale you specify.

Oct 24, 2021 - 12:11:19 PM

rcc56

USA

3841 posts since 2/20/2016

Sullivan banjos and Stew-mac sell complete pots. Recording King used to, but I believe they discontinued them a few years back, and they're not shipping many banjos right now anyway.

Or you could look for a used resonator banjo with a good pot and a broken neck, and send it to one of the aforementioned builders to have a ~20" scale neck installed. With some patience, you can probably find an RK with a busted neck.

And every now and then, I see a good used pot for sale in the classifieds.

Or if you don't require a Mastertone tone ring, you can by a Vega Little Wonder tenor, have a neck made and installed, and find a resonator that can be attached Vega style. If you keep the appointments for the new neck plain, you might be able to get it done for $1200 or less. If you have it done without a resonator, you might be able to bring it in at $1000.

Edited by - rcc56 on 10/24/2021 12:14:12

Oct 25, 2021 - 2:49:40 PM

11811 posts since 10/27/2006

>At one point, Saga was making "pony banjos." I don't remember the pot size.<

The recently discontinued Saga SS-10P has a 19 3/4" scale with an 11" pot. I still have a new one in stock with a gig bag. Rolled tone hoop and planetary tuners. $379 + shipping

TML's Savannah SB-060 Travel Banjo is similar. Though less expensive, it's been on backorder a long time. The pot is a woodie and has side geared tuners with a friction 5th. MAP is $299 + shipping.

Both are sold as travel banjos but should be considered banjourines. They come tuned to C or I can install heavier strings for G tuning.

Edited by - mikehalloran on 10/25/2021 14:52:35

Oct 31, 2021 - 6:25:05 PM

rockyjo

USA

469 posts since 10/21/2009

Thanks for your thoughts, everyone.

Not finding what I’m looking for, before reading your comments, I was thinking about coming at it from the other direction…getting an openback and putting on a resonator (tone ring first?)…. So, does it cost less/better result to add a ring and resonator to an openback, or find a short scale neck and pot w/ring and res and have someone put them together?

I don’t think having a neck made is in the cards..er, budget.

I didn’t think this was such a challenge, I thought everything with existing parts had already been done somewhere already…in a factory!!

Mike, your comments on strings for a C scale banjo to tune to G were intriguing; I found myself more interested in a bluegrass style jo with resonator than an openback.

I may have to just wait to see what comes available in used and/or used parts market.

Happy Halloween!
RJ

Oct 31, 2021 - 6:48:11 PM
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rcc56

USA

3841 posts since 2/20/2016

It might be difficult to find a ~20" scale 5 string neck for sale that is not already attached to a banjo.

I suggest that you consider Mike's Saga. I've seen a couple of them, and although they are student grade instruments, they are reasonably well made. You can get plenty of use out of it until such a time as you can afford to get something nicer.

Oct 31, 2021 - 8:50:20 PM

rockyjo

USA

469 posts since 10/21/2009

Is the Saga that you have, Mike, the thin rim or the earlier thick rim version?

For purposes of discussion anyway, what would be involved to turn the pot into a bluegrass pot (and steel strings of course)?  Probably crazy but might as well ask..

RJ

Edited by - rockyjo on 10/31/2021 21:00:44

Oct 31, 2021 - 9:00:14 PM

rockyjo

USA

469 posts since 10/21/2009

Addendum:
And how are those inexpensive banjos constructed—what parts, I mean—that have 4 metal attachment places (only) around the head without a flange all the way around? Any kind of tone ring or what generates the sound? Or what are the disadvantages of that kind of pot?

Thanks.
RJ

Nov 5, 2021 - 4:46:54 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14793 posts since 8/30/2006

Mike Halloran has the banjo you described.  Or buy the savannah and use the neck on the Materbuilt www.fiddlersdream.org has available. 

To give you a context banjohangout.org/classified/89154  This is a shoe and plate wooden rim with an alloy mastertone type tone ring, with resonator.  A shorter scale neck is easy to find.  There is a high quality hardshell case.  I'm a proactive shipper, I use cocoons.

I volunteer at a non-profit coffeehouse, a small donation will satisfy our aggressive stance so we can pay our performance rights fees.

Wait until after Nov. 20 this year for the Xmas rush to be over.  We have a unique situation this year.  Happy next year. 


Edited by - Helix on 11/05/2021 05:02:00

Nov 8, 2021 - 10:11:53 AM

1643 posts since 2/9/2007

Taking another look back at this thread, I want to ask what should have been my first question:

WHY do you want a short-scale banjo? Portability? Higher pitch? Short banjoist? Left hand/arm mobility issues? Something else?

Except for the portability, wouldn't a capo and the right choice of string gauges make a standard banjo suitable?

If portability is the issue, and you want a standard-pitch banjo with a good bluegrass tone, a short scale is not going to give you that. What you're looking for is a standard-scale banjo with a folding (or easily removable/replaceable) neck-- It's been done, but it's a tricky and expensive mod.

Edited by - Dan Gellert on 11/08/2021 10:12:58

Nov 8, 2021 - 11:45:39 AM

864 posts since 11/17/2005

quote:
Originally posted by rockyjo

Criteria:
1. Short scale: real close to or 20”
2. 5 string
3. Resonator and detachable (I don’t know the proper terminology here, but real flange and rim; or could be shoe type)
4. 11” head
5. Old or new
6. Tone ring nice but optional (probably)
7. Real instrument for an adult.

I think Trinity River has something kinda… and Gold Tone, currently.

I’m not familiar with historic or lesser known company’s line ups. (No budget for custom build.)

Any come to mind?

Thank you.


I have a Goldtone BG Mini. It meets your criteria except it has an 8" head.

Have you seen one?

https://goldtonemusicgroup.com/goldtone/instruments/bg-mini

Nov 8, 2021 - 6:11:59 PM

11811 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by rockyjo

Is the Saga that you have, Mike, the thin rim or the earlier thick rim version?

For purposes of discussion anyway, what would be involved to turn the pot into a bluegrass pot (and steel strings of course)?  Probably crazy but might as well ask..

RJ

It's the later, Made in China version with the thinner rim. These are not recommended for fitting anything more massive than the rolled brass hoop that it already has.

Saga used to sell a 2-piece flange kit that fit these — that plus resonator hardware would allow a resonator to be fitted.

There were some full tone ring banjos made with shoes and flange — no cutting as for a OPF or T&P. In fact, I just took in a used one that I'll be setting up tonight or tomorrow.

I just took a look and see if it might be possible to fit that SS-10P neck to it—and it is with modifications to the neck heel: The height of the heel on the 10P is 2 1/4" (not incl. fret height) while the other banjo's heel height is 2 3/4". What would need to be done is add a 1/2" heel cap of ebony, rosewood or stained maple to the 10P neck. The bolts would need to be pulled, doweled and re-drilled in the correct spots for the neck bolts from the other banjo, then bolt it together.

In fact, a neck swap could be done to make a nice open back by filling and re-drilling for the 10P bolts and shaving about 1'4" off the heel height of the full length neck, covering it with heel cap made from a thin veneer of rosewood or stained maple.

So, while no one makes a loose neck in the aftermarket, I have one attached to a new banjo that, with not much modification would work perfectly — for less than having one made.

Here are pictures of the heels of the two banjos.




Edited by - mikehalloran on 11/08/2021 18:16:55

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