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Odd tuner identification help sought.

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Jul 21, 2022 - 10:52:25 AM
10 posts since 5/18/2016

I recently acquired twenty pounds of assorted banjo parts of varying quality (mixed in with some knives and loose rusty razor blades for an extra element of danger). These tuners were in there. They appear to be gold plated brass, though most of the gold is warn off. The buttons are really beautiful pearl. I only have three of them as far as I can tell. One works ok and the other barely work. So great minds of the the Banjo Hangout, do you have any idea what these are? Also if you want them feel free to shoot me an offer on them as I really don’t need them.

Jul 21, 2022 - 10:57:31 AM

10 posts since 5/18/2016

Jul 21, 2022 - 11:07:04 AM
likes this

10000 posts since 8/28/2013

I'm no tuner expert, but I think these are off of a Weymann.

Jul 21, 2022 - 2:03:09 PM

rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014
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I was interested in obtaining a Weymann banjo at one time, and one of the top of the line I saw photos of was the Orchestra Style 4. It had those nuts with the 4 slots in them to screw on the tuners, and was all gold plated. Some of the other Orchestra styles used the nut with two holes in it to screw the tuner down, but I remember the Style 4 used those, as I had not seen them before. It is hard to tell from your photos, but I don't see a parting line on the tuner knobs, so that must be real MOP as you indicated.

Jul 21, 2022 - 2:24:20 PM

3069 posts since 4/7/2010

Here are a couple of planetary tuners that I have seen on Weyman banjos. They have a spanner nut that is different than the tuners Karl is inquiring about. Also the design of these tuners has the gear housing inlaid into the back of the peghead. All the Weyman tenor banjos in the Tsumura book, with the exception of two, have the same tuners as I posted.

But the tuner shafts, where the strings tighten, on mine are similar to Karl's.

Same manufacturer, different banjo brand? Hopefully more input will trickle in.

Bob Smakula




Edited by - Bob Smakula on 07/21/2022 14:27:10

Jul 21, 2022 - 2:56:51 PM

rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014
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quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula

Here are a couple of planetary tuners that I have seen on Weyman banjos. They have a spanner nut that is different than the tuners Karl is inquiring about. Also the design of these tuners has the gear housing inlaid into the back of the peghead. All the Weyman tenor banjos in the Tsumura book, with the exception of two, have the same tuners as I posted.

But the tuner shafts, where the strings tighten, on mine are similar to Karl's.

Same manufacturer, different banjo brand? Hopefully more input will trickle in.

Bob Smakula


Here is a photo of a Weymann Orchestra Style 4, with the nuts I was writing about.  The nuts pictured in your post are the other style with the two holes for a spanner of some sort.  I don't have a photo of the back of this peghead, but the OP tuners look like planetary tuners, the others I have seen on Weymann don't appear to be unless they are heavily recessed into the peghead.


Edited by - rmcdow on 07/21/2022 15:08:42

Jul 21, 2022 - 2:59:28 PM

3069 posts since 4/7/2010

I guess it is safe to say Karl's tuners are from a Weyman banjo.

Bob Smakula

Edited by - Bob Smakula on 07/21/2022 15:00:05

Jul 21, 2022 - 3:56:10 PM

1093 posts since 12/8/2006

Oooooo! Pretty knobs

Jul 22, 2022 - 8:18:14 AM

DSmoke

USA

1241 posts since 11/30/2015

Of the 100 or so Weymann Orchestra banjos I've seen that is the first time I've seen that style top nut on a Weymann. rmcdow would you have a serial number for the one you posted? The earliest Orchestras built had friction tuners. Shortly after they went to the recessed geared tuners that you typically see. I guess it is possible that this was Weymann's first attempt at a geared tuner. I would really like to explore this further.

Jul 22, 2022 - 8:32:16 AM

rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by DSmoke

Of the 100 or so Weymann Orchestra banjos I've seen that is the first time I've seen that style top nut on a Weymann. rmcdow would you have a serial number for the one you posted? The earliest Orchestras built had friction tuners. Shortly after they went to the recessed geared tuners that you typically see. I guess it is possible that this was Weymann's first attempt at a geared tuner. I would really like to explore this further.


Hi Dan,

Well, that gave me a bit of research to do to locate where I got that photo.  I believe this is it, from a Weymann that was being sold through Retrofret.  I thought that I remembered seeing photos of two of these, but could be mistaken.  At the time I saw the photo, I was particularly interested in the Weymann because of the hardware they used on some of their banjos, and saw that they used three kinds of nuts on their tuners.  The spanner nuts with two holes, this nut with the four slots that looks like the same spanner would work on it, and the hex nuts that we see on most tuners.  Hopefully this gives you something to go on, as the serial number is listed on this link.

https://www.retrofret.com/product.asp?ProductID=9401

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Jul 22, 2022 - 10:24:10 AM

DSmoke

USA

1241 posts since 11/30/2015

Thanks Rives, those tuners look like what Karl has. I can't explain if they are Weymann tuners or not. The serial number of the Retrofret banjo is 35881. Below is a link to a #4 (35443) for sale by Gruhn that has the typical Weymann gold recessed tuners.

Looking closely at the back of the peghead of the Retrofret banjo it looks like the recessed holes are a little larger than the tuners. I can also see wear to the finish that would be typical if the standard tuners were once there. Going off pictures on the internet and my experience with Weymann Orchestra banjos, I would say that these tuners are not Weymann tuners. I'm happy to be proven wrong though and then have to buy them, lol.

guitars.com/inventory/je3180-c...n-4-tenor

Jul 22, 2022 - 1:29:42 PM

rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by DSmoke

Thanks Rives, those tuners look like what Karl has. I can't explain if they are Weymann tuners or not. The serial number of the Retrofret banjo is 35881. Below is a link to a #4 (35443) for sale by Gruhn that has the typical Weymann gold recessed tuners.

Looking closely at the back of the peghead of the Retrofret banjo it looks like the recessed holes are a little larger than the tuners. I can also see wear to the finish that would be typical if the standard tuners were once there. Going off pictures on the internet and my experience with Weymann Orchestra banjos, I would say that these tuners are not Weymann tuners. I'm happy to be proven wrong though and then have to buy them, lol.

guitars.com/inventory/je3180-c...n-4-tenor


I didn't notice that recess detail on the back of the peghead, but think you are right about the tuners being replacements for the original tuners that Weymann had on the banjo originally.  I was probably wrong about thinking I saw two of the Weymann's with this type of nut on it, or possibly I saw the same banjo pictured in two places.  I guess that puts us back to the original OP question, who made those tuners?  If I figure it out, I'll post more here.

Jul 23, 2022 - 8:31:21 PM

53 posts since 11/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula

Here are a couple of planetary tuners that I have seen on Weyman banjos. They have a spanner nut that is different than the tuners Karl is inquiring about. Also the design of these tuners has the gear housing inlaid into the back of the peghead. All the Weyman tenor banjos in the Tsumura book, with the exception of two, have the same tuners as I posted.

But the tuner shafts, where the strings tighten, on mine are similar to Karl's.

Same manufacturer, different banjo brand? Hopefully more input will trickle in.

Bob Smakula


Jul 23, 2022 - 8:32:59 PM

53 posts since 11/7/2019

Bob - I have a set of 4 like yours - 2 slois

Jul 24, 2022 - 3:44:50 AM

3069 posts since 4/7/2010

quote:
Originally posted by John Brinegar

Bob - I have a set of 4 like yours - 2 slois


Mine, and most every Weyman geared tuner I have seen, have two holes for the spanner wrench. Slotted  spanner nuts are not the norm.

 

Bob Smakula

Jul 24, 2022 - 10:29:43 AM

53 posts since 11/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by John Brinegar

Bob - I have a set of 4 like yours - 2 holes


Jul 24, 2022 - 10:53:37 AM

969 posts since 2/17/2005

They're not Weymanns. They're from another 1920s/30s make...I'll try and dig up pics.

Jul 24, 2022 - 9:46:55 PM

53 posts since 11/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by John Brinegar

Bob - I have a set of 4 like yours - 2 holes


Jul 24, 2022 - 9:51:13 PM

53 posts since 11/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by John Brinegar

Bob - I have a set of 4 like yours - 2 holes


Aug 5, 2022 - 9:28:28 AM

rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Gitfiddle Emporium

They're not Weymanns. They're from another 1920s/30s make...I'll try and dig up pics.


The tuners have an 8:1 ratio.  

Aug 5, 2022 - 11:05:31 AM

400 posts since 2/11/2009

Weymann almost certainly didn't make them, even though they predominantly show up on Weymann banjos. They were probably purchased from a local machining company, and it's likely that this company sold to other customers as well because similar tuners also appear on Leedy and Slingerland banjos from time to time (and probably others). They show up both as recessed and non-recessed varieties but appear to all come from the same source.

Aug 5, 2022 - 11:47 AM

10000 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by OldFrets

Weymann almost certainly didn't make them, even though they predominantly show up on Weymann banjos. They were probably purchased from a local machining company, and it's likely that this company sold to other customers as well because similar tuners also appear on Leedy and Slingerland banjos from time to time (and probably others). They show up both as recessed and non-recessed varieties but appear to all come from the same source.


I don't know if any banjo company made their own tuners except maybe Lange/Page. Even Gibson, Vega, and B & D bought tuners from outsiders, and of course, others like Slingerland can be found with various designs by various companies. The fact that the Weymann's are so different is probably due to the particular company that made them.

I have not seen enough Weymann banjos to know if there were alterations over the years, or if different models used different tuners (to me, it would seem unusual if a budget model had gold plated ones).

I do notice a slight change in plating color (oxidation) that makes it appear that Karl's tuners were at least partway imbedded in the peghead.

My only other idea is that these tuners are not from an American banjo company.

Aug 5, 2022 - 1:56:20 PM

rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014
Online Now

I bought the tuners sans the MOP buttons, as I was interested to find out more about them, and it seems two of them may be useable. They may have been recessed George, as you say, but I don't think so, as there are some very old plier marks that go down right to the wood. There is a 1/16" protrusion in a slightly smaller diameter that either kept the tuners up a bit off the wood (this is what it looks like), or locked into a cavity in the back of the peghead. Everything is brass except for a pin that holds the top shank to the connecting rod into the tuner, the screws for the buttons, and the gears. I haven't yet been able to open it all the way up, but a magnet shows me that there is steel inside. They are well made, but obviously failed internally at some point.

Aug 5, 2022 - 4:36:53 PM

Jbo1

USA

1168 posts since 5/19/2007

Bob Smakula Karl Smakula I don't know about tuners, but if you are the one who writes the instrument descriptions for Bob Smakula (I'm guessing a relationship there) my hat's off to you. They are always entertaining to read, and so reminiscent of those from the Mandolin Brothers.

Aug 5, 2022 - 5:42:29 PM

rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014
Online Now

I took the tuner apart, it is a simply made tuner with 3 gears, two steel, one brass.


Aug 6, 2022 - 6:31:30 AM

rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014
Online Now

There is a 4th gear inside driven by the right side gear, mounted on the peg to drive it.

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