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Apr 19, 2024 - 5:41:06 PM
2 posts since 4/19/2024

Hi, can anyone tell me anything about this banjo and it's value. I only been told it's a 1929. Thanks for any info. Not sure pics have been attached, says list is empty. Could anyone let me know


Edited by - UPman58 on 04/19/2024 17:50:19

Apr 19, 2024 - 6:19:28 PM

3330 posts since 3/30/2008

I understand these were made by Stromberg Voisinet, c. 1920's.

Apr 19, 2024 - 6:22:51 PM
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8939 posts since 11/28/2003

Likely made by: Stromberg Voisinet. They were a Chicago-based company that later becake Kay.

Apr 19, 2024 - 6:24:42 PM

1786 posts since 4/13/2009

Yes - Stromberg Voisinet -

Apr 19, 2024 - 8:09:57 PM



2 posts since 4/19/2024

Estimated value ?

Apr 19, 2024 - 10:00:29 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)


27982 posts since 6/25/2005

We can better estimate that if you take off the resonator and post some pix of the inside. the banjo appears to have a tone ring. If so, depending on the type, it might add to the banjo’s values. Also, what is the diameter of the drum?

Apr 20, 2024 - 4:18:50 AM



1434 posts since 11/30/2015

It would also be helpful to know how many frets it has.

Apr 20, 2024 - 8:07:55 AM

5712 posts since 5/29/2011

What appears to be a tone ring in the one picture is a roll-stamped decorative metal band. Some S-V and Kay banjos were a little fancier than others and were decorated that way. The tension hoop also has the same pattern.
Melody King was one of the name brands that was used by Stromberg-Voisinet on some of their more decorated models. Kay might have continued to use it. The use of etched pearloid plastic is not that unusual on these banjos. If this was made in 1929, which is a reasonable guess, it would have been made when the use of pearloid was becoming popular.
The banjo has 19 frets. I had to do some tricky examination to figure that out.
As to the value, $200-$300 would be a reasonable guess. Stromberg-Voisinet banjos were not collector's items, and they were plentiful. This one might run to the top of the price range since it is a decorated model, but it was not made for the professional player.

Apr 20, 2024 - 8:33:23 AM
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5588 posts since 3/22/2008

Estimated value - $300 - $400. Melody King was a store brand for retailer/cataloger Montgomery Ward. I could not find your model in the M/W catalogs that I own (several). I suspect that it was sold in M/W stores. The vine fretboard inlay I think may have been thought attractive to unsophisticated banjo customers. I must (reluctantly) agree that your banjo was manufactured in the Stromberg-Voisinet Co. factory, on Union Park Ct. in Chicago. S/V was a jobber manufacturer (not a retailer) that made banjos for wholesale distributors and in this case for Montgomery Ward (a long standing association). In 1931 the S/V company's name was changed to the Kay Musical Instrument Co. (Kay) located at the same S/V address. I am a little conflicted about the date of manufacture because it was my impression (unsubstantiated) that Kay did not begin making the "craggy" S/V peghead shape until ca 1935 in which case your banjo would technically be a Kay. Both S/V and Kay specialized in "affordable" not high end banjos.
Attached are pictures of the standard S/V peghead shape and the "craggy" peghead shape. However, there are several other indices that point to S/V and 1929. I sold the attached first unbranded "craggy" (S/V or Kay) banjo on ebay several years ago for about $400 (from my memory bank). I have little doubt that your banjo is a 19 fret tenor banjo which was the most popular banjo during the time frame which we are discussing. Unfortunately, the tenor banjo has experienced a substantial decrease in popularity over the last several years so are not as much in universal demand as they once were. There are, however, some niche pockets of interest in the tenor banjo that remain in existence today which may find your banjo to be of interest.

Edited by - beezaboy on 04/20/2024 08:39:19

Apr 20, 2024 - 9:07:44 AM
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5588 posts since 3/22/2008

Oops. Yes, it is a Stromberg-Voisinet ca 1929. I became so fixated on the peghead shape I forgot the most telling feature distinguishing a S/V from a Kay banjo. A Kay banjo would have a factory installed "shim" between the heel and rim which was a neck adjusting mechanism together with a screw head visible in the bottom of the heel. From the side photos of your banjo I cannot see the "shim". Probably because there isn't one!

Apr 20, 2024 - 10:44:53 AM

5712 posts since 5/29/2011

Two other features suggest Stromberg-Voisinet instead of Kay.
The resonator is attached utilizing a screw through the back. And Kay banjos had threaded posts in the resonator that protruded through the flange and accepted knurled thumb screws. There are no thumb screws in the picture.

Apr 20, 2024 - 1:33:49 PM

5588 posts since 3/22/2008

Good point. With the center resonator bolt this banjo must have a S/V dowel not the Kay metal rod neck attachment apparatus.  Well, for years I thought the "craggy" peghead shape was exclusively a Kay innovation.

Edited by - beezaboy on 04/20/2024 13:41:01

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