12/19/2015

1870s Fretless A-Scale 5-String Banjo


The same customer who left (and picked-up) the Vega banjo in the last post brought this by. I did a quick setup on it and back out it went! My guesstimate is that this banjo may be related to early Buckbee makes. It has a lot of similarities (but differences, too).

I've had a number of these old fretless banjos through the shop over the years and they're always fun to see. This one has a rim design that's a little more rugged than usual and is just over the 10" threshold at for standard-size synthetic heads and so wears a newer 10 1/8" Renaissance head (much to my relief). 


This has a "Gibson" 24 3/4" scale length with notched grooves to mark out the "fret" positions. Like many early production banjos, it has a simple 1-piece neck, round-style dowel stick, and one-ply rim. the hardware is all brass and features "eagle" shoes.


The old pegs are bone or ivory -- can't quite tell which. They work just fine.


The board could use a level/dress as it's pretty worn in first position, but "there would go" the antique charm, right?



The thicker rim is what's kept this banjo "round" rather than the usual squished shapes I'm used to seeing from period instruments.





The owner made a replacement tailpiece for this and I supplied the vintage German 3-foot minstrel-ish bridge.

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