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Dec 3, 2022 - 6:59:06 PM
1630 posts since 3/1/2012

Just won an online auction lot of two dulcimers and an octagonal banjo.
I only want the banjo, so will get be putting the dulcimers up on ebay after I get them.
My question is, were Octagonal banjos ever commercially made? This one appears to be a one-off, and may in fact be a tackhead—will know more when I get the lot.
I know octagonal banjos were somewhat popular in the eastern Kentucky/Tennessee border area.


 

Edited by - IMBanjoJim on 12/03/2022 18:59:44

Dec 3, 2022 - 7:16:03 PM

2087 posts since 5/19/2018

There was a company back in the 70’s that sold kits for various folk instruments. Kalimbas, dulcimers and yes, they had a kit for an octagonal banjo. I had the catalog, a one sheet paper job, but I can’t remember the name of the company, I think McKenzie maybe, and for some reason, I think they were out of South Africa. Alao can't recall if the banjo kit had a wood top, or a tack head top. The kits were pretty basic, and from your one picture you posted, I doubt it was from that supplier.

Interesting lot. Somewhat of a fan of dulcimers, but rarely play them, but in the course of decades of instrument horse trading picked up and sold a number of them. The one in the center looks especially interesting. When you get the lot in hand, please post a few photos of the banjo and a few of that dulcimer when you have a moment.

Edited by - Alvin Conder on 12/03/2022 19:17:31

Dec 3, 2022 - 7:23:47 PM

1630 posts since 3/1/2012

From what I can tell, this is a one-off. Can’t tell yet if it is an antique.
Will post photos when I get the instruments. Still have to make arrangements for shipping, which is never fun.

Dec 3, 2022 - 8:10:24 PM
Players Union Member

kwl

USA

606 posts since 3/5/2009

Unlike Alvin, I am a great fan of Appalachian/Mountain dulcimers. I, too, would be interested in knowing more about them once they are in your hands. Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer website is a good place to ask for information about them and there are several websites specifically for dulcimers where you could offer them sale should you decide not to keep them.

Dec 3, 2022 - 8:25:45 PM

1630 posts since 3/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by kwl

Unlike Alvin, I am a great fan of Appalachian/Mountain dulcimers. I, too, would be interested in knowing more about them once they are in your hands. Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer website is a good place to ask for information about them and there are several websites specifically for dulcimers where you could offer them sale should you decide not to keep them.


Thanks for the tip! Although I like dulcimer music, and have owned a couple over the years, It has never been my instrument. So, yes,will probably sell them.

Edited by - IMBanjoJim on 12/03/2022 20:26:24

Dec 3, 2022 - 9:52:32 PM
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1465 posts since 1/9/2012

( Alvin Conder )
Hughes Dulcimer was a company located in Denver that sold kits for, of course, dulcimers, but also thumb pianos (kalimbas), Jumping Jacks, and a six-sided wood-topped banjo. McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica long had one hanging on the wall. Miles Miles, professional clawhammer player extraodrinaire out of Chicago has one that he says his wife made for him. They called it "The Octagon," a joke alluding to including its front and back. And I built one (shown). I still have it, and it's out one a stand in my bedroom.


Dec 4, 2022 - 5:39:01 AM

2087 posts since 5/19/2018

David. Thank You.

You are correct. How I got Hughes and McCabes to be mixed into McKenzie from SA I’ll never know.

Dec 4, 2022 - 7:23:26 AM
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26 posts since 11/7/2022

Hi, I got one of those kits and built it when I was 13, I still have it, my parents decided after a year of me plinking on that thing, that I needed a real banjo! It got me started!????

Dec 23, 2022 - 5:12:54 PM

1630 posts since 3/1/2012

Octagonal banjo finally arrived, as did the two dulcimers.
Octagonal banjo appears to be early 20th Century. No apparent makers mark or dates on or in it. Interestingly, instead of tacks, the maker used screws to hold the band that holds the skin taut. Metal tailpiece that looks like it could have come from a tobacco tin. Hand made wooden pegs.
Banjo pot is 9 1/2 inches in diameter.wooden pot is 3 inches deep, with raised diamond shapes on each side of the octagon. There is a wooden back with a sound hole. Banjo has frets.




 

Dec 23, 2022 - 5:14:38 PM

1630 posts since 3/1/2012

More photos:




 

Dec 24, 2022 - 3:32:33 AM

263 posts since 12/19/2017

I wonder what it sounds like. Get some sound samples to share.

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