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Jan 22, 2023 - 3:15:37 PM
57 posts since 12/28/2020

There's been one on that auction site for a while now. It seems pricey at $2200. Appa they were decent instruments and are rare now. I'm looking fory next 'jo. I love my silver princess, and I don't feel the need to upgrade. I'm looking for opinions though. I'm still eyeballing a Hatfield with custom inlay though.

Jan 22, 2023 - 6:01:10 PM
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1790 posts since 2/21/2011

What auction site are you referring to?  Can you provide us a link??...

Jan 22, 2023 - 6:38:26 PM

495 posts since 11/29/2012
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That banjo's been on there for over a year. They had shipping on there originally, but then changed it. It's a Vanguard that was purchased with a resonator that's attached with tabs like an old Kalamazoo or Oriole, no flange. At the time that was put up for sale, a clean Vanguard had just sold for $1000, dropped from $1500 which sat for months. The seller of the one online said it was their dad's and won't ship it. So it will sit forever unless someone else can educate the seller. I stopped trying. And I'm happy with my '63 RB-170, the same banjo. I hope someone gets the Great Lakes. It's sad to know that's just sitting there with someone who doesn't play, who thinks it's worth $700+ more than it is. Anywhoo, not my banjo as I repeat to myself everytime it pops up in my watchlist...
: ))

Jan 23, 2023 - 2:58:39 PM
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57 posts since 12/28/2020

It's on eBay. Search great lakes banjo.

Ah, so someone has been eyeballing it. Interesting.

Jan 24, 2023 - 11:24:47 AM

2932 posts since 4/16/2003

Way WAY too high for what you're getting on that one.

$1,200?  Maybe

But $2,200?  Not a chance.

Jan 24, 2023 - 11:34:46 AM

1530 posts since 7/12/2004

I'm slightly familiar with Great Lakes, mostly through the top tension banjo that Bill Keith played. This one puzzles me a lot. The few I've seen all had flanges, which this one does not. The cheap Japanese tailpiece also doesn't seem right, or the multi-ply rim. What does the seller base his ID on?

Please let me know if this is a known Great Lakes model that I'm just not familiar with.

Jan 24, 2023 - 11:52:29 AM



10944 posts since 7/1/2006

There is no way that eBay banjo is a Great Lakes banjo. A company known for quality would never have used a multiply rim like that. And the way the resonator attaches ... no way.

Jan 24, 2023 - 2:27:30 PM

Alex Z


5167 posts since 12/7/2006

I have a Great Lakes top tension (since 1982) -- and, a 1975 catalogue!

There are several differences between the ebay pictures and the catalogue for the Vanguard model.

  -- None of the pictures of any banjo in the catalogue show rings in a resonator.  All are plain.

  -- The tailpieces in the catalogue are either Kershner or a non-covered simpler "window" tailpiece that looks like an early Ome style.

  -- The Vanguard is not offered as a resonator model in the catalogue.

  -- It is possible that the Vanguard model has a rim with more than 3 plies.  Hard to tell from the picture in the catalogue, but looks like it.

  -- All of the banjos in the catalogue have a heel construction that comes to a point, not rounded like the e-bay picture.

  -- All of the banjos in the catalogue have a 5th string pip that is to the side of the 5th fret, not behind it.

  -- The Vanguard is specified as having  "nickel plated 5/16" brass tone ring."

  -- All the Great Lakes banjos I've seen have a 3 digit serial number.  I don't believe the serial number is coded for a date.  108 might put it in the early 1970s.

  -- All the Great Lakes banjos (except the ones inlaid on the back of the peghead) have a stamp on the back of the peghead with 3 lines, first and third of which are curved and have capital letters, which looks like:

          GREAT LAKES

          Ann Arbor

          BANJO CO.

Conclusion:  #108 is pretty early in the Great Lakes time line.  By the time my catalogue came out in 1975, Great Lakes was in full swing with all the models, and the Vanguard details shown in that catalogue are different from the pictures on ebay.  Where they were with #108 I don't know.   I think the stamp -- or lack of it -- on the back of the peghead would determine whether or not the banjo began life as a Great Lakes Vanguard.  Certainly the tone ring is not original, and I can't imagine that Great Lakes would chose and install a resonator like the one shown on e-bay.  Every Great Lakes banjo I've seen has had the highest quality materials and most careful workmanship.

So anyone interested should inquire, "What's on the back of the peghead?"

Jan 24, 2023 - 3:07:26 PM

495 posts since 11/29/2012
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I asks the seller about sending or adding a photo of the back of the headstock a year ago and they never bothered. This was after they wrote back prior to that twice. Anywhoooo, somewhere online there is a reference to a Great Lakes with this configuration, T-tabs and a flangeless resonator. I have to jump on grad school homework after working today, so no time to search for it right now. But, I'll give it a try tomorrow. Also, that's not a cheap tailpiece. That's the Waverly tailpiece that Gibson used on the RB-250, 350, RB-180, etcetera from the early 60's through the early 70's. Later versions were made in Japan--the exact same quality.

Jan 26, 2023 - 10:36:08 AM

77356 posts since 5/9/2007
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If a seller can't be bothered to answer easy questions I'd close that book.

Jan 26, 2023 - 11:32:59 AM

495 posts since 11/29/2012
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I did. I closed that book and there it sits over a year later. It's not the only item in my watchlist on that site of items the seller, or in this case the family member of a seller, doesn't want to actually sell, but need to create the illusion of selling to another party. There are quite a few of these types of ads on all the online outlets. Humans are ever interesting!

Jan 27, 2023 - 10:32:01 AM



2110 posts since 8/30/2012

Maybe it's one of those situations where the wifey wants him to sell it, but he doesn't, so he puts it up on ebay for a stupid price and can say, "I'm trying to sell it, just need a buyer!".

Wouldn't be the first time that's happened.

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