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Sep 25, 2022 - 5:55:10 PM
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18 posts since 2/17/2014

I posted a few days ago about identifying a vintage banjo and y'all identified it as a 38 hook, 1880's Buckbee.
It was for sale locally in an estate sale so I ended up being the high bidder ($72.00). I picked it up this morning and I'm pleased with it.
I believe it was the original owner's family who had the auction.
It was not played for decades and was the filthiest instrument I ever saw. I was in storage for many decades without strings (a good thing) and had literally collected dust all those years.
It is missing three hooks, one friction peg and the tailpiece and bridge. The head will also need replaced.
It is also stamped J.H.B. on the neck and dowel.
I spent the day disassembling and cleaning the decades of dirt and dust off of it and it is cleaning up quite well.
The neck has very little wear and is pretty straight. The fretboard has .008 relief without strings.
The rim and hardware have some corrosion which is expected for a 140 year old instrument.
I am planning on putting a No Knot on it for now until I can locate an original tailpiece.
I'm debating whether to put a hide head on it or go with a Fiberskyn.
As for the bridge I have a collection of 5 string bridges I can experiment with.










 

Edited by - 54 Deluxe on 09/25/2022 17:57:41

Sep 25, 2022 - 6:17:41 PM
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1617 posts since 3/1/2012

If it was me, I'd go with a skin head and nylgut strings.
And with that many hooks, I'm wondering if it is more 1890s than '80s.
Regardless, I bet it can be brought back to life and play some sweet tunes!

Sep 25, 2022 - 6:28:06 PM

7230 posts since 9/21/2007

Tailpieces don’t get lost, they get destroyed by wire strings.

Sep 25, 2022 - 7:19:26 PM
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18 posts since 2/17/2014

Jim, I'm leaning towards the skin head. I'm a little hesitant because I've never installed one but what the heck, I like a good challenge.

Sep 25, 2022 - 7:53:15 PM

459 posts since 10/8/2018

quote:
Originally posted by 54 Deluxe

Jim, I'm leaning towards the skin head. I'm a little hesitant because I've never installed one but what the heck, I like a good challenge.


I've installed 4 now after helping my brother in law stumble through the process and seeing that it was not that difficult. I believe we watched some YouTube videos, before hand, to familiarize ourselves to the process. But the other four I did myself and they sound great! I also used  La Bella 17 strings. I also agree that is probably 1890's.

Edited by - TriMD180 on 09/25/2022 19:55:23

Sep 25, 2022 - 8:35:56 PM

18 posts since 2/17/2014

Willie, I see you're in St. Pete. I'm in Jacksonville.
What are they predicting for the hurricane down there. It looks like it is coming right at us.

Sep 26, 2022 - 4:55:52 AM

579 posts since 2/8/2003

Nice find, good price! Hide head, and nylgut/nylon strings and it should be set. As far as tailpiece, use whatever is easiest. Mark Ralston (yellowstone jewelry) may have repo that interests you.

Sep 26, 2022 - 7:18:18 AM

10152 posts since 8/28/2013

It's good that you used a skin head. Most of these old inexpensive banjos used thin tension and flesh hoops. _Plastic heads have a much wider "flesh hoop' that the hooks won't fit over unless you bend them.

You got a very good price on this banjo.

Sep 26, 2022 - 4:19:20 PM

1887 posts since 1/13/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

Tailpieces don’t get lost, they get destroyed by wire strings.


A fair number also were destroyed by having no strings. When a unstrung banjo is neglected in a garage, attic, closet, ect. the tailpiece hangs loose and is pretty susceptible to damage. 

They do get lost as well, often under the same storage circumstances.

Sep 26, 2022 - 5:52:35 PM

18 posts since 2/17/2014

Andy, I'm sure the tailpiece was probably in the house somewhere but, being an estate sale there was no way for me to look around.
I did ask if they knew of anything that went with the banjo.

Dec 2, 2022 - 7:35:15 PM
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18 posts since 2/17/2014

Finally completed the 1880 Buckbee banjo.
After cleaning it up, installing a new calfskin head, making a new bone nut and maple bridge it was playable and sounded good but it needed a period correct tailpiece.
I contacted Mark Ralston and purchased one of his tailpieces. I highly recommend buying one from Mark.
I received it yesterday and installed tonight and it completes the package. It plays and sounds great.
I'm glad I found this great old instrument and rescued it before some picker (like American Pickers) did only to spend eternity hanging on the wall in some Cracker Barrel restaurant!
It makes music again!


 

Dec 4, 2022 - 6:27:09 AM

459 posts since 10/8/2018

Hey Skip! That looks beautiful and as original as you can make a 130 year old banjo these days! Love the sound of these old banjos and the cool thing is that each one I have brought back to life has a different sound than all the others! Like people, they all seem to have a different voice!
   I have purchased a number of replacement parts from Mark Ralston he has a  great talent for reproducing old hard to find banjo parts or knowing where else you may look for them!
   Sorry, I see you wrote earlier about the hurricane, but I didn't see it until you posted this last post. We seem to be extremely lucky here in the Tampa Bay Area, as most hurricanes that are heading our way mostly seem to swerve another direction and leave us fairly unscathed with only power outages from the winds and branches to clean up afterwards. I hope you did well op in Jacksonville!  Thanks for saving the great old banjo and enjoy playing it. The only draw back with it is that it is so much fun you end up doing it again and again until you turn into a "Collector"....  be warned! Lol!   Willie (23 banjos later)

quote:
Originally posted by 54 Deluxe

Finally completed the 1880 Buckbee banjo.
After cleaning it up, installing a new calfskin head, making a new bone nut and maple bridge it was playable and sounded good but it needed a period correct tailpiece.
I contacted Mark Ralston and purchased one of his tailpieces. I highly recommend buying one from Mark.
I received it yesterday and installed tonight and it completes the package. It plays and sounds great.
I'm glad I found this great old instrument and rescued it before some picker (like American Pickers) did only to spend eternity hanging on the wall in some Cracker Barrel restaurant!
It makes music again!


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