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British tunneled 5th to sell but how much is it worth?

Feb 6, 2023 - 3:18:29 PM
3 posts since 2/6/2023

Hi All,
I have this British tunneled 5th, late 1800s (???) that I would like to eventually post for sale.
Any thoughts on the value or condition of this banjo would be appreciated, thanks in advance.

Feb 6, 2023 - 3:52:05 PM
likes this

10 posts since 3/15/2012

They are called Zither banjos. In the 1970's, my brother bought one for me but while at a "party" outside of Boulder, CO, the late Dave Crosby offered him $1500 for it. (That's about $5000 in today's money).

My brother said: "Nope. This is for my little brother."

He gave it to me. I had it appraised. $125. So I spent quite a bit of time, unsuccessfully trying to reach Dave Crosby!

They are not very valuable. They do have an interesting sound -- sort of archtop but with a skin head. I saw one for sale for $250 in pretty good shape (VG at least) but passed on it. Unless it is a very desireable brand (I don't know which ones are), it probably isn't worth a ton of money. Many "antiques" are like that. It also depends on the condition. Look around on Ebay, etc. or do a google search. The price seems to vary from a few hundred to about 900 or so. I would do some comparison shopping as if I were buying and see what others are selling it for.

It does have a really cool sound, in my opinion. Not for jamming with five other instruments, but a nice sharp but sweet sound. Also, they were often strung with gut/nylon strings, or maybe some of each! But in any case, it should be strung with LIGHT or EXTRA LIGHT strings because the neck can easily bow under heavy pressure.

Feb 6, 2023 - 6:19:40 PM

3 posts since 2/6/2023

Thank you for the informative response!

Feb 6, 2023 - 9:24:46 PM


New Zealand

11714 posts since 6/29/2003

Zither banjos turn up here on our national auction site. Here they are worth less than NZ$200.

Feb 7, 2023 - 1:29:02 PM

4499 posts since 4/29/2012

What they said. Low end pretty much unsellable. High end: some beatiful and skillful examples of the luthiers art but not worth more than a few hundred. Photos would allow us to place this on the spectrum from nothing to not very much. Problem is that they were produced in great numbers from about 1890 to 1930. So if you want one it's not hard to find one. But few people want one.

Feb 7, 2023 - 1:32:26 PM

328 posts since 1/28/2018

Not all tunnelled 5ths are zither banjos. I have a Jedson with a tunnelled 5th. John Grey also produced tunnelled 5th banjos and also Windsor who mainly produced Zither banjos also produced more standard banjos with tunnelled 5ths.

Perhaps the OP could post a picture of the banjo.



Edited by - Old-Nick on 02/07/2023 13:37:18

Feb 7, 2023 - 5:05:17 PM

3 posts since 2/6/2023

I tried to upload some photos. See if that works. And thanks for the info!

Feb 8, 2023 - 1:09:03 AM

328 posts since 1/28/2018

It is a zither banjo (unfortunately) plus needs a bit of repair.
As said a bit of a marmite sound and usually don't sell for much.

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