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Aug 5, 2022 - 6:06:05 PM

Entweasel

New Zealand

3 posts since 8/5/2022

Hey folks, hope you're all having a great weekend :)  Edit:  I think I've managed to work out how to upload photos.

I picked up a 4-string banjo recently. Guy was selling it as a tenor but its got 22 frets and the scale length is a bit under 27" so I'm guessing it's officially a plectrum banjo.

The previous owner had bought it from a guy who claimed it was a family heirloom from around the turn of the century. This seems to match up with what I can see. I'm not really familiar with English tone woods or old banjos in general so I'm basing my assumptions on guitar knowledge and sketchy research. It doesn't seem to have a truss rod, the fingerboard and headstock veneer look to be rosewood (or possibly ebony?). I've no idea what the neck or resonator are made of (except that it's beautiful!) and I don't know whether the inlay on the back of the neck is because it is a three-piece neck or if it's just decoration. The tuners, tailpiece and bridge all look to be original. The tuners are Grover geared banjo tuners and the bridge is stamped Grover as well. The tail-piece is stamped "Waverly" and "Patent applied for" and has a neat little folding cover.

The head is obviously a lot more recent :) There's also a cool little plate inside on the dowel-stick that says it's from Beggs, the official NZ importer of Abbott instruments. Also the ring looks like it's wrapped or lined which is pretty choice.

It's a lovely instrument and I'm really enjoying playing it. I'm hoping to find a bit more info out and also a ballpark value - my insurance requires anything worth over $1000 to be specifically mentioned on the policy and I think I would struggle to replace this for what I paid for it.

Edited by - Entweasel on 08/05/2022 18:10:17

Aug 6, 2022 - 5:12:59 AM

11097 posts since 4/23/2004

Nice! Plectrums became most popular in the WWI and inter-war era. Yours is most likely 1920s-1940s...though I'm no Abbot expert.

Generally speaking, the neck and dowel stripes indicate 5-piece laminate construction...a method of adding strength prior to truss-rods.

Value...low. Not a popular style of play, not a famous maker, no fancy bits. $200...?

Aug 6, 2022 - 9:56:22 AM

9784 posts since 8/28/2013

I agree with Marc, except I think his dollar value is a little low unless condition is questionable.

Aug 6, 2022 - 2:21:33 PM

Entweasel

New Zealand

3 posts since 8/5/2022

Hey guys, thanks for the replies :) That is actually the kind of answer I was hoping for! Abbott is famous for banjoleles and this listing I found (reverb.com/item/2810399-vintag...8-natural) is silly money. I figure it's just a chancer listing something at an impossibly high value to get a better offer.

I was getting anxious about playing it in case it was a barn-find (and a bit concerned that the guy I bought it from had ripped himself off!).

Now I can carry on and just enjoy my new instrument :)

Edited by - Entweasel on 08/06/2022 14:22:17

Aug 6, 2022 - 2:45:02 PM

6999 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Entweasel

Hey guys, thanks for the replies :) That is actually the kind of answer I was hoping for! Abbott is famous for banjoleles and this listing I found (reverb.com/item/2810399-vintag...8-natural) is silly money. I figure it's just a chancer listing something at an impossibly high value to get a better offer.

I was getting anxious about playing it in case it was a barn-find (and a bit concerned that the guy I bought it from had ripped himself off!).

Now I can carry on and just enjoy my new instrument :)


To us classic banjoists, Abbott is "famous" for his 5 strings, esp the Concert Grands he built for Clifford Essex.

Aug 6, 2022 - 4:09:02 PM

Entweasel

New Zealand

3 posts since 8/5/2022

Wow, that's something else to look up. I've never even heard of concert grand banjos!

Aug 6, 2022 - 4:53:48 PM
likes this

59236 posts since 12/14/2005

I don't know anything about ABBOT banjos.

But it looks nice.

Aug 6, 2022 - 7:43:49 PM
likes this

9784 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Entweasel

Wow, that's something else to look up. I've never even heard of concert grand banjos!


"Concert grand" is simply a model name used by Clifford Essex. I'm sure they were fancy and well-made, but not otherwise different than a conventional banjo.

"Concert grand" was a term borrowed from the piano biz, and many cheap pianos, even common uprights (not even close to a simple baby grand) were dubbed "Concert."

Aug 7, 2022 - 1:14:20 AM

1668 posts since 4/25/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Entweasel

Hey guys, thanks for the replies :) That is actually the kind of answer I was hoping for! Abbott is famous for banjoleles and this listing I found (reverb.com/item/2810399-vintag...8-natural) is silly money. I figure it's just a chancer listing something at an impossibly high value to get a better offer.

I was getting anxious about playing it in case it was a barn-find (and a bit concerned that the guy I bought it from had ripped himself off!).

Now I can carry on and just enjoy my new instrument :)


Abbott banjo ukes are very sort after and command very high prices. 

Have fun your plectrum banjo is a well built banjo from one of the top English makers.

Aug 7, 2022 - 1:15:43 AM

1668 posts since 4/25/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
quote:
Originally posted by Entweasel

Hey guys, thanks for the replies :) That is actually the kind of answer I was hoping for! Abbott is famous for banjoleles and this listing I found (reverb.com/item/2810399-vintag...8-natural) is silly money. I figure it's just a chancer listing something at an impossibly high value to get a better offer.

I was getting anxious about playing it in case it was a barn-find (and a bit concerned that the guy I bought it from had ripped himself off!).

Now I can carry on and just enjoy my new instrument :)


To us classic banjoists, Abbott is "famous" for his 5 strings, esp the Concert Grands he built for Clifford Essex.


I was unaware that Abbott built the Concert Grand for CE Joel. 

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Aug 7, 2022 - 7:03:21 AM

6999 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Stephen John Prior
quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
quote:
Originally posted by Entweasel

Hey guys, thanks for the replies :) That is actually the kind of answer I was hoping for! Abbott is famous for banjoleles and this listing I found (reverb.com/item/2810399-vintag...8-natural) is silly money. I figure it's just a chancer listing something at an impossibly high value to get a better offer.

I was getting anxious about playing it in case it was a barn-find (and a bit concerned that the guy I bought it from had ripped himself off!).

Now I can carry on and just enjoy my new instrument :)


To us classic banjoists, Abbott is "famous" for his 5 strings, esp the Concert Grands he built for Clifford Essex.


I was unaware that Abbott built the Concert Grand for CE Joel. 


Abbott, Sydney Young, and I am not sure who else built them.  I believe they eventually set up their own shop.

Aug 7, 2022 - 9:48:51 AM

311 posts since 2/21/2012

Joel, I would be VERY interested to hear what evidence you may have, that others made CE banjos,
apart from George Houghton and Spencer ?
Thanks, Keith

Aug 7, 2022 - 7:25:16 PM

6999 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by banjowilly22

Joel, I would be VERY interested to hear what evidence you may have, that others made CE banjos,
apart from George Houghton and Spencer ?
Thanks, Keith


Perhaps I am wrong and got my makers mixed up.

It seems Barnes Brothers might have made the Professionals and post 1922 Metal Hoop Specials, but that is not relevant.

Aug 8, 2022 - 11:54:07 AM

12263 posts since 10/27/2006

As for insurance, you can acquire a decent vintage plectrum including shipping to NZ from the States for around $1,000 US. Slingerlands, '20s Vega Senators, Bacon Bs , and many others would fit the bill. Insurance for $1,500 would cover the next level up including a few Vegaphones and a few nicer Bacons currently in the used market.

Trying to cover exactly what you have to replace with an equally nice banjo would likely run more.

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