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Jun 28, 2022 - 6:51:18 PM
9 posts since 6/27/2022

I was wondering if anyone had any information on this unknown Watson banjo. I’ve searched the web and there is no unknown copy. I don’t know the owner who had it before me. Anything will help

Jun 28, 2022 - 7:34:03 PM

1573 posts since 3/1/2012
Online Now

Is there a photo?

Jun 28, 2022 - 7:50:44 PM

9 posts since 6/27/2022

Here are some photos


Jun 28, 2022 - 7:51:06 PM

9 posts since 6/27/2022

quote:
Originally posted by IMBanjoJim

Is there a photo?


Yes 

Jun 29, 2022 - 3:59:53 AM

banjoy

USA

10340 posts since 7/1/2006

Good morning and welcome to BanjoHangout La-La Land.

From the pics my first thought is a parts banjo from a kit, probably from Stewart MacDonald... do you feel comfortable removing the resonator and taking some more photos of the inside of the banjo?

The neck clearly is handmade and a bit sloppy, so probably a one-off by an amateur builder did that work. The parts appear to be decent quality but again, not enough info in the photos to tell.

Can you take a few more close-ups too? Some of the side so we can see the pot hardware, and some of the inside so we can see the wood rim and tone ring.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents, most likely an amateur builder using some good quality parts. These can be very nice playing banjos if done well.

I would guess this banjo is from the 1980s but that's only a guess, and the vintage 5-Star head points me there.. More photos please :) and others will chime in I'm sure when you can add more visual info.

EDIT TO ADD -- Very hard to tell from these pics but to me the neck appears to be angled, from a heel being cut wrong, which would put it off-center at the headstock end. That's not uncommon issue with amateur builders and I could be completely wrong, it could just be the angle the photos were taken giving it that appearance. More photos, as many as you care to take will propbably provide more clarity overall. Thanks!

Edited by - banjoy on 06/29/2022 04:05:15

Jun 29, 2022 - 4:48:06 AM

3027 posts since 4/7/2010

quote:
Originally posted by banjoy

EDIT TO ADD -- Very hard to tell from these pics but to me the neck appears to be angled, from a heel being cut wrong, which would put it off-center at the headstock end. That's not uncommon issue with amateur builders and I could be completely wrong, it could just be the angle the photos were taken giving it that appearance. More photos, as many as you care to take will probably provide more clarity overall. Thanks!


Good eye on that one. I agree that the neck is not centered to the tailpiece and it looks like the strings are riding towards the 5th string side. A neck reset will be in order.

But to answer the original post about who made the banjo, I am in the "I don't know" club. Dismantling the banjo may allow you to view some graffiti written  in a hidden place.

Bob Smakula

Jun 29, 2022 - 6:02:59 AM

4267 posts since 3/28/2008
Online Now

Does that mix of inlays offer any guidance as to where the builder got the parts/supplies?

Jun 29, 2022 - 8:59:45 AM
likes this

9 posts since 6/27/2022

quote:
Originally posted by Ira Gitlin

Does that mix of inlays offer any guidance as to where the builder got the parts/supplies?


No not really

Jun 29, 2022 - 9:29:53 AM

9 posts since 6/27/2022

quote:
Originally posted by banjoy

Good morning and welcome to BanjoHangout La-La Land.

From the pics my first thought is a parts banjo from a kit, probably from Stewart MacDonald... do you feel comfortable removing the resonator and taking some more photos of the inside of the banjo?

The neck clearly is handmade and a bit sloppy, so probably a one-off by an amateur builder did that work. The parts appear to be decent quality but again, not enough info in the photos to tell.

Can you take a few more close-ups too? Some of the side so we can see the pot hardware, and some of the inside so we can see the wood rim and tone ring.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents, most likely an amateur builder using some good quality parts. These can be very nice playing banjos if done well.

I would guess this banjo is from the 1980s but that's only a guess, and the vintage 5-Star head points me there.. More photos please :) and others will chime in I'm sure when you can add more visual info.

EDIT TO ADD -- Very hard to tell from these pics but to me the neck appears to be angled, from a heel being cut wrong, which would put it off-center at the headstock end. That's not uncommon issue with amateur builders and I could be completely wrong, it could just be the angle the photos were taken giving it that appearance. More photos, as many as you care to take will propbably provide more clarity overall. Thanks!





 

Jun 29, 2022 - 9:57:04 AM

banjoy

USA

10340 posts since 7/1/2006

Hey Jamison, thanks for the extra photos...

(As an aside, there is a musician here in Spartanburg who shares your first and last name, small world I suppose...)

I stand corrected. This is not a kit banjo. The rim, neck and resonator all appear to be home / hand made, fit to readily available metal parts. This is not high quality work (they are all a bit sloppy) but seems to me to be a labor of love whoever made it. That vibe comes through to me. There are lots of instruments like this made with love, and you go with the best that you can here.

Your photos confirm that the neck heel-to-rim fit is cut incorrectly, which throws the neck off center and probably does some weird stuff with tuning and fretting up and down the neck. A qualified banjo repairman can re-cut that fit so that the neck is not out of alignment. This can be / probably is a decent player.

My best guess is this was made by an amateur / beginner woodsmith who loved and played banjo. Depending on where and how you acquired this banjo, my guess would also be that this was a local person. And probably named Watson, my guess being s/he made it for personal use. It's likely to be a one-off instrument so it may be the only one.

Do you have any knowledge or information about its history, or how it came into your hands? That may provide some clues. Was it family? Found at a pawn shop? A gift? Just curious.

That's as far as my amateur sleuth-detective work can go here. Others here may have more insights for sure. Get that heel re-cut and you've probably got a 1/2 decent banjo there. Hard to tell without seeing it in person.

Welcome to banjo land. Enjoy the journey...

Edited by - banjoy on 06/29/2022 09:59:39

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Jun 29, 2022 - 10:06:48 AM

9 posts since 6/27/2022

quote:
Originally posted by banjoy

Hey Jamison, thanks for the extra photos...

(As an aside, there is a musician here in Spartanburg who shares your first and last name, small world I suppose...)

I stand corrected. This is not a it banjo. Both the rim and neck appear to be home / hand made, along with readily available parts.

Your photos confirm that the neck heel-to-rim fit is cur incorrectly, which throws the neck off center and probably does some weird stuff with tuning and fretting up and down the neck. A qualified banjo repairman can re-cut that fit so that the neck is not out of alignment. This can be / probably is a decent player.

My best guess is this was made by an amateur / beginner woodsmith who loved and played banjo. Depending on where and how you acquired this banjo, my guess would also be that this was a local person. And probably named Watson, my guess being s/he made it for personal use. It's likely to be a one-off instrument so it may be the only one.

Do you have any knowledge or information about its history, or how it came into your hands? That may provide some clues. Was it family? Found at a pawn shop? A gift? Just curious.

That's as far as my amateur sleuth-detective work can go here. Others here may have more insights for sure. Get that heel re-cut and you've probably got a 1/2 decent banjo there. Hard to tell without seeing it in person.

Welcome to banjo land. Enjoy the journey...


Well one day it was spring cleaning at my church. So while I was cleaning the halls the pastor ask me have I seen the banjos yet. Course I didn't know what I was talking bout so I said no and he took me to the pastor's study where there was a 1920's challenger banjolin. A Repro National Resonator. And this banjo. So he let me take them home. The story was the owner before me was old so he took the 3 intruments to a dump and told the worker if he knew anyone who played give these to them and my church picked them up for me. So one night I noticed a sticker on the side of the banjo's case that had the name and address of the man who owned the banjo before me. So I did some searching and found his number. But the man was so old he didn't remember the banjo at all. Also the man's last name is not Watson. 

Jun 29, 2022 - 10:20:13 AM

1882 posts since 2/9/2007

It looks to me like the co-rods are off the diameter, though that may be a trick of the photo's perspective. I'd want to do some measurements to check the rim's roundness and the placement of the holes. If it is crooked, you'll need to address that along with the heel cut.

Jun 29, 2022 - 10:20:23 AM

banjoy

USA

10340 posts since 7/1/2006

Well that's an interesting story! You may have already hit the end of the trail of discovery.

The Repro National Resonator banjo is from the 1970s I think? Not sure, but that one may have some value. The same for the 1920's challenger banjolin ... but I'm guessing you've researched those already.

These were taken to a dump? Wow. Someone did well to save these from that fate. And good on you to take them in. Banjos need a home :)

Based on what you're saying here, this Watson banjo could date as far back as to the 1940s or 50s. Some of the metal parts may provide more clues, again, others here may be able to offer more insight for sure.

Perhaps in your musical journey you'll come across some local old codgers who play bluegrass. They may have the missing info to fill in the blanks.

Thanks for sharing.

Edited by - banjoy on 06/29/2022 10:21:12

Jun 29, 2022 - 3:47:48 PM

rmcdow

USA

1179 posts since 11/8/2014

Could this be a banjo someone built for Larry Watson, the teacher from Canton, NC? He had banjos built with his name on them.

Jun 29, 2022 - 3:50:05 PM

9 posts since 6/27/2022

quote:
Originally posted by rmcdow

Could this be a banjo someone built for Larry Watson, the teacher from Canton, NC? He had banjos built with his name on them.


No those banjo's were modeled after RB-1s expect for Larry's custom Shamrock banjo.

Jun 29, 2022 - 4:31:27 PM

9 posts since 6/27/2022

quote:
Originally posted by rmcdow

Could this be a banjo someone built for Larry Watson, the teacher from Canton, NC? He had banjos built with his name on them.


Sorry thought you was talking bout the frank neat banjos

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