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Sep 28, 2022 - 4:56:22 PM
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1614 posts since 3/1/2012

Banjo arrived today! Very heavy instrument. Very old. My guess is antebellum. Oddly enough, it appears to have a brass tone ring, which I had thought was a later concept.
I have taken a number of photos which will need several downloads. Enjoy!
And, as always, I welcome any insights.




 

Sep 28, 2022 - 4:57:52 PM
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1614 posts since 3/1/2012

More photos:




 

Sep 28, 2022 - 5:00:26 PM

7219 posts since 9/21/2007

What was wrong with the other two discussions on this banjo?

Sep 28, 2022 - 5:00:58 PM

1614 posts since 3/1/2012

More:




 

Sep 28, 2022 - 5:02:20 PM

1614 posts since 3/1/2012

More


 

Sep 28, 2022 - 5:09:01 PM

1614 posts since 3/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

What was wrong with the other two discussions on this banjo?


Wanted to emphazise the photos.

Sep 28, 2022 - 6:40:46 PM
Players Union Member

TLG

USA

1711 posts since 10/11/2004

Neet !
The shoes & bracket nuts are a modern version. Very long brackets. (you akready know that)
So, is it a 7 string, 3 on the neck ? 6 string tailpiece.
Holes on the inside of the rim , is it a hollow rim ?
Very interesting !
btw, I bought your other book, now you need to do another book with this on in it.
Tom

Sep 28, 2022 - 6:52:47 PM

1614 posts since 3/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by TLG

Neet !
The shoes & bracket nuts are a modern version. Very long brackets. (you akready know that)
So, is it a 7 string, 3 on the neck ? 6 string tailpiece.
Holes on the inside of the rim , is it a hollow rim ?
Very interesting !
btw, I bought your other book, now you need to do another book with this on in it.
Tom


I agree--modern nuts. Not sure if the hooks are modern. It DOES appear toe a hollow pot.

Two drone strings, not three.

Thanks for buying the books!

Edited by - IMBanjoJim on 09/28/2022 18:54:24

Sep 28, 2022 - 7:12:02 PM

7219 posts since 9/21/2007

Well, we know the bridge post dates 1919 as that was when A. D. Grover invented and started marketing the "non tip" bridge. This one looks like it is based on the even later versions with the wide feet (which were added by Grover to prevent wire strings from making the bridge sink on tenor and plectrum banjos).

Sep 28, 2022 - 7:13:12 PM

7219 posts since 9/21/2007

The rim likely started life as something else.

Sep 28, 2022 - 7:30:01 PM

1614 posts since 3/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

The rim likely started life as something else.


Hard to say. The neck meets the pot very cleanly, and the rimstick enters and leaves the pot cleanly. No apparent re-working to make do.




 

Sep 28, 2022 - 9:39:33 PM

2018 posts since 5/19/2018

I don’t know Jim. That instrument is a difficult one to pin down. There is a lot going on there. Age could be anything from the 1920’s on to way back.

The neck is incredibly interesting. Any idea as to the type of wood it is made from? Does not look like a Domestic US species.

Really a unique instrument on many different levels.

Would love to play it once it’s restored. Certainly a center piece in your wide collection.

Sep 29, 2022 - 6:19:37 AM

rmcdow

USA

1214 posts since 11/8/2014

That is a nicely carved neck and peghead. It is going to be interesting to identify the wood it is carved from. I like the way the heel curves down into the pot. What metal is the tension hoop and the hooks made from, and what thread pitch is on the hooks? Have you taken it apart and can post a photo of the tone ring?

Sep 29, 2022 - 11:37:46 AM

1614 posts since 3/1/2012

Took off the rusty, complaining hooks and nuts, took off the tension ring and hoop, got rid of the ripped skin head, and exposed the copper tone ring underneath. There are holes under the copper tone ring that go down into the wooden pot and meet up with the holes in the pot—maybe the idea is to let the sound out?
So…when were tone rings invented?




Sep 29, 2022 - 11:49:41 AM

7219 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by IMBanjoJim

Took off the rusty, complaining hooks and nuts, took off the tension ring and hoop, got rid of the ripped skin head, and exposed the copper tone ring underneath. There are holes under the copper tone ring that go down into the wooden pot and meet up with the holes in the pot—maybe the idea is to let the sound out?
So…when were tone rings invented?


That is making me think that this is later rather than earlier. 

Sep 29, 2022 - 12:05:06 PM

1614 posts since 3/1/2012

It has always been my understanding that the Dobson Silver Bell was the first tone ring, circa 1881. Were there earlier tone rings?
And when were hexagonal nuts invented? The banjos in my collection seem to indicate circa 1880.
The banjo certainly looks early, but the whole thing is curious.

Sep 29, 2022 - 12:17:35 PM

7219 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by IMBanjoJim

It has always been my understanding that the Dobson Silver Bell was the first tone ring, circa 1881. Were there earlier tone rings?
And when were hexagonal nuts invented? The banjos in my collection seem to indicate circa 1880.
The banjo certainly looks early, but the whole thing is curious.


The rounded over nuts as found on banjos were historically called "protection nuts".

Stewart was using them by 1880.  These look like they are of a later pattern, I am leaning 20th century on this one given that it has that tone tube bearing surface.
 

Sep 29, 2022 - 12:41:36 PM

1614 posts since 3/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
quote:
Originally posted by IMBanjoJim

It has always been my understanding that the Dobson Silver Bell was the first tone ring, circa 1881. Were there earlier tone rings?
And when were hexagonal nuts invented? The banjos in my collection seem to indicate circa 1880.
The banjo certainly looks early, but the whole thing is curious.


The rounded over nuts as found on banjos were historically called "protection nuts".

Stewart was using them by 1880.  These look like they are of a later pattern, I am leaning 20th century on this one given that it has that tone tube bearing surface.
 


Sep 29, 2022 - 12:45:34 PM

1614 posts since 3/1/2012

Did, or do, drums have tone rings? If so, when were they common?

Sep 29, 2022 - 3:22:05 PM

1328 posts since 11/9/2012


Wow, AN EXTRA 5TH STRING already strung up in case of breakage! wink Sorry I had to make a joke, as I never knew they made banjos like this. I have a lot to learn. 

Sep 29, 2022 - 4:40:57 PM

rmcdow

USA

1214 posts since 11/8/2014

Is that gut or nylon on the banjo?

Sep 29, 2022 - 4:55:55 PM

1614 posts since 3/1/2012

Looked like gut. I cut he old strings off.

Sep 30, 2022 - 6:22:50 PM

1614 posts since 3/1/2012

Someone on BH asked me to try various nuts to see what, if any fit…

Good idea to try several nuts from various banjos in the collection.
A very early circa 1860 banjo with a tapered square nut DID fit.
A tapered square nut from a mid 1870s banjo did not fit.
An 1880s nut from a Stewart banjo did not fit, and a 1890s nut from
a Morrison did not fit.
A nut from a British Tunbridge Ware (1880s) banjo did not fit.
Also a modern banjo I had made for me a few months back, from a British luthier, did not fit
So…based on all that, it would seem that the thread is early. But the nuts LOOK like they are 1880s or later. Not sure what to make of that.

Sep 30, 2022 - 6:46:19 PM

3008 posts since 3/30/2008

Drums traditionally are bare shells w/ out tone rings. There is, however a science to shaping the bearing edge. (A scarce few modern makers have experimented w/ rings & metal bearing edges).

Sep 30, 2022 - 8:14:15 PM

1614 posts since 3/1/2012

Further muddying the waters…I am informed that copper piping was ‘invented’ in 1927. However, I think this means that that is when it started to be used in indoor plumbing, to replace lead pipes.
Also, a dive into the a banjo Hangout archives brought up the comment that copper is not used in tone rings because it sounds dull.
For what it is worth….

Oct 1, 2022 - 5:43:33 AM

27 posts since 8/6/2020

Hey Jim,

Not sure if you've seen this or not, but here's an example of another banjo with the "double 5th strings": https://www.retrofret.com/product.asp?ProductID=1858

I first thought the double holes on the inside may indicate it was an early wooden snare drum as there are examples of snare drums having double holes to accomodate double brackets to hold dual skin heads on.  However, I'm curious...under the tension hoop, is it carved like it is around the bottom of the pot?  I ask this, because if it's not carved, then that might indicate it was solely meant for only one side of the pot to have a head.

Further, I don't know if this has been proposed or not, but the pot itself distinctly reminds me of an old wooden barrel.  Not sure if it was actually cut from a barrel, but just throwing that out there.  I'm also not doubting that the copper tube may have been on the banjo initially, but something just seems "off" there.  I'm kind of wondering now if those extra holes on the inside of the pot were used to hold some sort of "tone ring-like structure" inside the banjo, which had been removed at some point, at which time someone fashioned that copper tube to mimick post 1900's banjo's.  Again, no proof, but just throwing the idea out there.

I'd say 1850's/1860's neck and pot, and some hardware that's been added over the years as an "upgrade".  Nothing about that neck and pot scream post-1880's to me at least.

Shawn
 

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