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Banjos, Contact us...
Page updated 9-24-2023
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1906 Fairbanks Electric Neck with Regent Rim. Details below. $1,500 Photos
1921 Fairbanks by Vega Whyte Laydie N.O. 2, Details below. $2,300 Photos
1923 Vega Little Wonder with Wyatt Fawley conversion 5-string neck. Details coming soon. $1,500 Photos
1908 Fairbanks Special N.O. 4. All Original 5-string. Details below. $1,800. Photos
1893 Fairbanks Senator(?) $1,800. Details below. Photos
2012 Christian Stanfield & Tom George fretless. 11" rim, 22" scale neck. $850. Details below. Photos
1923 Vega Imperial Electric Original 5-string. Details below. Pictures coming soon.
New Enoch Tradesman, Left Handed. Click here for details.
2021 Enoch Tradesman, fretted, 12", walnut neck, scoop. With gigbag. Pictures coming Soon. $1,100
2007 Enoch Tradesman, 12", walnut neck, Half Fretless. With hard case. $1,250 Photos
New; As-Is collection. Scroll to the bottom of this page for the list.
FIVE STRING BANJOS
Openback 5 string banjos are a specialty here at Smakula Fretted Instruments. Everyone who works here plays clawhammer banjo, a style well suited to the open back five string. We do have resonator Bluegrass banjos for sale from time to time. Send us an email or check back.
Fifth String Railroad Spike Capos; Installed free on request when you buy one of our banjos.
1975 Goose Acres 6-String Neck on 1924 Vega Little Wonder Rim. My love affair with curly maple began at an early age. I (Bob Smakula) remember being stunned by this banjo's neck wood in the pile of random wood species shorts that my high school had in their wood shop. It took me months to get up the nerve to ask the shop teacher if I could have it for a banjo neck. When procured, I knew that I needed to make a 6-string banjo with a low bass similar to the one that my banjo idol, Peter Hover, had. Fun to build and came out rather decently for a 17-year-old beginning craftsman, but it is now time to pass it on to a new player. The curly maple neck has a 26-1/8" scale ebony fretboard with Mother of pearl inlay. The peghead features 5 ABM planetary banjo tuners and the nut width is 1-13/32". The rim is from a Vega Little Wonder tenor banjo. The original tone ring was missing when my family acquired it, and my best guess is my dad fabricated a new tone hoop. About 10 years ago this banjo had some updating at the SFI shop. The ABM tuners were added, the neck refretted and reset, and a new 6-string No-Knot style tailpiece added. The neck feels a little big, but not unwieldy. The low bass string growls, so you can get those low notes you never could find on a standard 5-string banjo. With a hard case this banjo is $900. Sorry, Sold. Photos
1988 Goose Acres Tradition. Goose Acres was an institution in the Cleveland area for about 30 years. That folk music shop owned by Peter H. Smakula and (until 1989) Bob Smakula covered a lot of basses selling new and vintage instruments, recorded music CDs, cassette tapes, & LPs, as well as offering instrument repairs, and music lessons. In the far back room, they made banjos. Really nice banjos. The neck on this one is maple with a dot inlaid 26-1/4" scale ebony fretboard. The 11" rim is 2-ply maple with brass hoop tonering. A wonderfully elegant 5-string banjo that rivals the best being made today. This 35-year-old banjo has minimal wear and includes a TKL hard case in the same nice condition. For the record, this banjo was made by Kevin Enoch, Bob Smakula, and Peter H. Smakula. Interesting to note that in the Goose Acres log book, in Kevin Enoch's writing, this banjo was noted as a "Galax" model. By late 1989 the model designation of a banjo with these specs had changed to "Tradition" and would have been labeled T-11. Price is $2,000. Call quickly if you are interested. Goose Acres banjos are never in stock very long. Sorry, Sold. Photos
New Enoch Tradesman by Enoch Instruments. 11" or 12" rim with black finish, 25 1/2" scale, natural finish walnut or cherry neck with a Dobson-style profile and round heel, Richlite fretboard with dot inlays and an adjustable trussrod. Geared Gotoh planet & 5th tuners and cool octagonal dowel stick. Available fretted or fretless. In our opinion, the best new utility banjo on the market. GB; $1,475 fretted, $1,425 fretless. All our Enoch Tradesman Banjos are made with the optional fretboard scoop.
Enoch Tradesman banjos allways sell quickly. Currently we have 3 new and two used Tradesman banjos in stock. Click here for details regarding the Enoch Tradesman banjos we have available and on order.
1906 A.C. Fairbanks Electric neck on Regent Style Rim. The neck of this banjo came into our shop (along with the original Fairbanks Electric rim) several years ago and we fit a new ebony fretboard and peghead overlay. As the original Consalvi engraved inlays were in great shape, we re-inlaid them. Sometime between our final repair and our recent acquisition, the original rim was changed to a vintage rim that looks like a Fairbanks Senator or Regent. No telltale serial number, but it sure looks like Fairbanks manufacture to me. This diminutive banjo has a 25" scale and a 10" rim. Modern geared tuners have vintage grained ivoroid knobs installed. The neck is 1-1/8" wide and has the original French polish finish stripped and an oil finish applied. So how did this second marriage work out, you ask? Rather nice actually. The tone is warm and the playability is excellent. For only $1,500 you can own a little of Consalvi's masterwork and not worry about care taking an irreplaceable collectable. You'll get to play it! In good to very good condition and comes with a gigbag. Photos
1923 Vega Imperial Electric Original 5-string. A super clean original 5-string banjo nearly as it came from the factory, with a couple of "from the factory" quirks. The rim is stamped with the number 63524 and the neck is stamped with number 63518, a mere 6 digits apart. And that's not all. The dowelstick looks like it was originally stamped with the model designation "Senator", then over-stamped twice with "Imperial Electric". I cannot imagine why it would be so hard to mate the neck and rims with matching serial numbers. Must have been a Monday morning. The neck is mahogany with an ebonized maple peghead overlay and fretboard that has grained ivoroid binding and a 27" scale. The tuners are the original screw tension friction tuners with grained ivoroid knobs. And maybe the only non-original part on this banjo (besides strings and bridge) is the 5th string nut. The 10-15/16" diameter rim is about 6 layers of hard maple adding up to _" thick. The tonering is the often mimicked, but never actually reproduced Electric tonering, consisting of a steel wire hoop resting on a truss, with a thin metal spin-overkeeping the two parts together. The other hardware includes closed ball end nuts with the hooks, 2-point shoes, the original No-Knot tailpiece and topped off with the original Joseph Rodgers calf skin head. The original neck angle on this one is comfortable for modern playing. With a _" bridge, the 12th fret measurement is 1/8". Tone is a full round sound with good projection and a great pop when played over the neck. And as an extra bonus, no AC or DC power is required for the operation of this Electric. Price is $2,000 and includes a modern hard case. Pictures coming soon.
1921 Fairbanks by Vega Whyte Laydie N.O. 2. In the openback banjo world, there is no doubt that the Whyte Laydie banjo is an icon. In my lifetime I have seen many attempts at copying this tonering design, but no one can do the job perfectly. At best, a quality caricature (usually without the dune buggy) and at worst, a pile of metal that really should be sent to the metal recycling facility. "What makes this so good?" you ask. Start with the maple neck and accept no substitutes. This example has a professionally refretted 27" scale bound ebony fretboard and an ebonized maple peghead overlay attached to the maple neck. Nut width is 1-3/16" and 7/8" deep at the 1st fret. The rim is likely 7 layers of hard maple (I would have to take off the tonering to count) with a 10-15/16" diameter scalloped tonering and matching bracket band. Most of the other hardware appears to be original. That includes the peghead tuners, the Cook's Sure-Grip tailpiece (AKA; Cammed No-Knot) all 28 two-point shoes and hooks with closed ball end nuts. The 5th tuner has been changed to a Schaller with original grained ivoroid knob installed. The head appears to be from Stern Tanning and the banjo is set up with steel strings and a 3-legged bridge. Tone is what you demand from a Whyte Laydie banjo. Full, precise, and all the volume you would ever need. Price is $2,300 and includes the original bump hard case. Photos
1908 Fairbanks Special N.O. 4. From the classic A.C. Fairbanks years, here is an all original Special N.O. 4 5-string. At 115 years old it still looks great with no abuse and no dubious improvements that so often happens to nice banjos like this. The neck appears to be cherry and finished to resemble mahogany. The ebonized maple peghead overlay does have superficial cracks that add to the character, but do not degrade the structure. The ebonized maple fretboard has a comfortable 25-7/8" scale and is in very good condition. Only one hairline crack from the nut to the 6th fret. The 10-11/16" diameter rim is fully spun over and has the same heft of a Regent from the same period. All 28 brackets are present, though a few hooks are steel rather than brass and one hook had to be bent slightly to reach around the flesh hoop to grab the tension hoop. The only non-original parts on this instrument are the two hooks and the normal "consumable" parts like head, bridge, and strings. We have it set up with 6B Nylgut strings and a 3 legged bridge. That gives it a warm plunk. The sturdy neck (1-1/4" wide by 1" deep at the 1st fret) would have no problem handling steel strings, though the original screw tension friction tuners would be a bit fussy. A small price to pay to have an exceptionally nice vintage banjo such as this one. Price is $1,800 and a modern TKL hard case is included. Photos
1893 Fairbanks Senator(?). This 130 year old banjo is stamped with the A.C. Fairbanks and Fairbanks & Cole imprints. Though A.C Fairbanks and W.A Cole dissolved their partnership in 1890, A.C. Fairbanks felt he had the legal right to continue using that out of date F&C stamp. The banjo does have several features that are holdovers from the F&C era. The boat heel and peghead shapes are the most notable. The neck is made of mahogany with a 26-1/2" scale fretboard. The inlays are a combination of abalone and mother of pearl shell. Some of those inlays are engraved. The 11-1/2" diameter rim is an unusual "double spun", being metal clad outside and inside. The 30 brackets are all original as is the bone patented F&C tailpiece. The banjo, on whole, is mostly original. New additions include geared Pegheds brand tuners, a Stern calf skin head, and Aquila Nylgut strings. A nice banjo for either clawhammer or classic styles. Price is $1,800 and includes a Superior hard case that was modified to fit the slightly shorter neck of this banjo. Photos
1923 Vega Little Wonder with 5-string conversion neck by Wyatt Fawley. In a top-secret lair in Greensboro, Pennsylvania there was once a wood shop that produced some of the best, accurate reproductions of Vega banjo necks made from 1910 to 1925. A little good fortune has one of Wyatt Fawley's necks, attached to a 1923 Vega Little Wonder banjo rim, here in the SFI shop. The natural blond maple neck, with black veneer center seam, has a bound 26" ebony fretboard with engraved mother of pearl inlay. The peghead overlay is also ebony with an engraved MOP star. The peghead features 5-star planetary geared tuners and has a complementary 5th. The 10-15/16" diameter, _" thick maple rim has been refinished in lacquer to match the conversion neck. The 28 shoes are original, but the hooks and nuts have been replaced with good looking modern parts. The tailpiece is a modern 5-string No-Knot. The head is a fairly recent natural calf skin head that is about .015" thick. The banjo's tone is warm with a good pop when played over the neck. Though the best of Greensboro, PA is now all but a historic location marker on Pool Ave, this excellent example from the Banjo Loft can be yours for a mere $1,500, with an included gigbag. Photos
1886 Fairbanks and Cole Imperial. 137 years old. Dang. I hope I look as good as this Fairbanks and Cole banjo when I'm 137 years old. Built for the style of banjo playing now known as "classic", the tone and playability of this instrument is inspiring to sneak out of the box and try new things. It works well for clawhammer, and I suspect electric bass tapping technique could also be applied. The mahogany V-shaped neck has a 3/16" thick ebony fretboard with attractive abalone and mother of pearl inlays. The frets and tailpiece appear to be ivory. The tuners have been replaced with modern Pegheds planetary geared tuners for tuning ease. The 11-7/16" maple rim is elegantly finished with black shellac and all 32 brackets are original, though not all the washers are patent applied for. Price is $2,000 with a hard case. Photos
2008(?) Doug Unger Prague Castle Commemorative Banjo. When you think of the Czech Republic, banjos are usually not the first things that pop in to your mind. This highly decorated banjo with an inlaid image the Prague castle sitting on the 12th fret has a good reason to have that design element. Builder Doug Unger was granted an artist's residency in Prague, Czech Republic in the summer of 1999. His daily walks had him studying the Prague castle for inspiration in both his paintings and the musical instruments he builds. The neck on this banjo is mahogany with a 25-7/8" scale bound ebony radiused fretboard. The engraved pale abalone and mother-of pearl inlay was inspired by Icilio Consalvi's work at the W.A. Cole company. I recognize the inlay designs being influenced by the models G and H (AKA 4000 and 5000). The back side of the neck features a carved heel and a back strapped peghead with a Fairbanks style dogwood blossom inlay. Most of the 10-1/2" Whyte Laydie rim came from Bill Rickard's shop, with the exception of the vintage long 2-pointed shoes, the square drive ball end nuts, and the vintage Common Sense tailpiece with a reproduction ivory rosette. Tone is warm and precise. Though the neck is bigish (At the nut 1-9/32" wide and 1-1/16" deep) it is definitely comfortable to play. The $6,000 price includes an Eastman bump hard case and all the afore mentioned engraved pearl work. Photos
Circa 2001 Doug Unger Cole style neck on Modified Cole's Eclipse Pot. To fans of modern interpretations of famous Boston banjos, the name Doug Unger carries a strong reputation for visual perfection. This particular instrument is strongly influenced by a Coles Eclipse 4500 model. The iridescent mother of pearl inlay fills nearly every fret space. With the delicate engraving lines reminiscent of Icilio Consalvi's landmark work this banjo takes you back 125 years to Boston's Tremont Street. The one-piece mahogany neck also has inlay on the back-strap and a carved heel. Look carefully and see if you can see the Greenman peering out at the world. The 10-7/8" rim is an original Cole's Eclipse that was modified here at SFI for a recent owner with the addition of a Fairbanks electric scalloped tonering. Though the wood and the tension hoop are original 125-year-old parts, the shoes as well as the hooks and nuts are modern, quality reproductions. Recent work done here at SFI to get this banjo in to top playing condition includes; new dowelstick and neck reset, new calf skin head, refret, and new planetary ABM tuners with a complementary Schaller 5th, outfitted with tortoise color buttons. The 27" scale offers a tension and precision to the warmth of the modified vintage rim. Yes, it plays and sounds as good as it looks. Price is $6,000 and includes a Harptone hard case. Photos
1909 Bacon Professional Model No. 2. According to early 1900's banjo phenom, Fred Bacon, the Bacon Professional was "built on scientific principles" and he guaranteed it to be "The best banjo in the world". Who am I to argue? This fantastically nice example was made by the Vega company before Mr. Bacon had his own factory. The flowerpot peghead and fretboard inlay are exactly what you would find on a 1909 Fairbanks by Vega Tubaphone NO 3. The neck on this one is mahogany with a 27" scale fretboard of ebonized hardwood. The 11" diameter "Internal Resonator" rim is made of maple and includes the Bacon Professional tonering. Appears all original with the exception of the Remo Renaissance head, Labella model 17 nylon strings, wire armrest, and 2 leg bridge made of beech. According to Bacon's catalog, "all instruments personally tested by Mr. Bacon." Though Fred Bacon likely played this instrument at least once, we do not guarantee that you will be able to perform Nola with the same skill and drive as he did. Though if you purchase this banjo you'll have a better chance at accomplishing that goal than anyone on your street. With a modern Superior hard case, this banjo is $4,000 Photos
1895 Cole's Eclipse Style F, aka No. 3000, aka, Man In The Moon. It is rare that we will have two of these banjos in the shop at the same time, but here it is. This MITM banjo has a mahogany neck with a 27-1/8" scale ebony fretboard. Some of the fretboard inlays look like they have either been reengraved, or maybe even replaced. The rim is black painted 5-ply maple and has the patented Cole's Eclipse tonering, consisting of a spun over metal hoop resting on round head nails. Tuners are vintage Ludwig planets on the peghead and a vintage friction 5th. Rim hardware has 28 long 2-point shoes, closed ball end nuts with the hooks and the requisite OEM Elite tailpiece. With the calf skin head and the Labella #17 nylon strings, this banjo has a great full tone. Price is $2,500 and includes a hard case. Photos
1890's Bay State Model 315. Though I love Baystate banjos, unfortunately nearly every one I have procured was manufactured with an ebonized maple fretboard and peghead overlay. Vintage instrument fans know that the dying techniques of 130 years ago cause the wood to eventually decay. Fortunately for us, this banjo has been professionally rebuilt with a new 26-1/4" scale ebony fretboard with non-original, but appropriate looking mother of pearl inlays. Along with the fretboard replacement there is an new dowelstick, a new ebony peghead overlay, 5-star planetary geared tuners, and a geared 5th tuner. And the cherry neck was refinished in lacquer. The 11" spunover rim is mostly original. All 24 hooks, nuts, and shoes are correct, but the neck attachment brace is of modern manufacture and the vintage No-Knot tailpiece would not have been original equipment. The banjo plays comfortably and has a warm tone. Perfect for fitting in with a session, or solo on the couch. With a gigbag, this banjo is $1,200. Photos
2000 (?) Boucher copy fretless by Bob Flesher. So just what does the late burlesque performer Blaze Starr have to do with this banjo? Well, besides Blaze having been a banjo player herself (pictured with a Gibson RB-250), it is a little-known fact that one of the several Boucher music business locations happened to be the same address of Ms. Starr's famed Two O'clock Club in Baltimore's theater district. Being a modern reproduction, the closest this banjo ever got to 212 East Baltimore Street was about a block away during a recent banjo history conference. The slightly tangential history is all well and good, but what about the banjo? The neck is quilted maple with a burnt orange lacquer finish. The checking on the lacquer makes the instrument look older than it is. The 5 tuners are ebony violin style pegs. The oak rim is 11-15/16" in diameter and has 6 wing nut brackets. The gut strings and high-quality calf skin head complete this reproduction of a banjo made 170 years ago. Being a player of fretless gut strung banjos myself, I love this instrument! Somehow the tuning landed in a C# and suits it very well. Oh well, no G-string on this banjo. Price is $2,000 and includes a hard case. Photos
1890's HC Nelson by JB Schall. From the late 1800's through the 1960's Chicago was a string instrument making hub. Dozens of factories both well known (Harmony) and nearly unknown (Globe) produced millions of musical instruments for America and beyond. J.B. Schall was a "somewhat" known banjo maker, producing high quality instruments with his own name and the names of resellers stamped on the dowelstick. This particular instrument conforms to Schall's NO 2 parlor banjo. The neck has a 22-1/2" Ebony fretboard that could be a replacement as the frets are modern and the neck finish could be modern black lacquer. The original dowelstick has been replaced, but the original stick, with the HC Nelson stamp, is included. The rim is "double spun", with metal cladding inside and out. The shoes are all original, but the 26 hooks and nuts are modern replacements. Set up with a calf skin head and modern No-Knot tailpiece, this banjo has a warm tone and is very comfortable to play. According to the JB Schall, in his 1884 catalog, "I would ask all who are interested in the banjo, professional or amateur, to visit me at my factory in Chicagowhen convenient, and I will convince the most skeptical mind of the thorough excellence of work." Sounds good to me. Price is $1,200 and a Superior II gigbag is included. Photos
2006 Cedar Mountain Model L2. As far as banjos for sale here at SFI go, this instrument is fairly new, at only 17 years old. Made by Lo Gordon in his Brevard, NC shop it has many features that speak to modern clawhammer players. The curly maple neck has a 25-1/2" scale ebony fretboard with a scoop for the thumb and on end abalone squares for position markers. The peghead is decorated with abalone stars and a man-in-the-moon silhouette. The 11" block rim is made from what appears to be a rosewood species and has no metal tonering, that is, the Remo Renaissance head is resting directly on the top wood layer. Most of the metal parts are nickel plated, though the tension hoop is raw brass. A great sounding plunky sounding banjo for the 21st century. $1,900 and includes a Levy's gig bag made of fabric with a southwest theme. Photos
2012 22" Scale Fretless Banjo by Christian Stanfield & Tom George. A combination of Summerfield and Memphis Tennessee craftsmanship, this instrument is fun to play and admire the craftsmanship. The neck is curly maple with a wenge (wood) fingerboard and heel cap. The fingerboard has position dots on the side to assist those that are new to fretless playing. Tuners are Gotoh with white knobs. The 11" diameter maple rim has 24 brackets a brass tone hoop, Remo Renaissance head, and a wenge rim cap. Tone warm and clear. Overall, the neck is small, a 1-14" nut with and 21/32" neck thickness at the first fret position. Total length is 32" making this banjo suitable for a small person, or someone with limitations that prevents them from playing a banjo with standard specifications. Currently set up with steel strings, but not a problem for us to convert it to Nylgut. A great deal at $850 with a Superior II gigbag included. Photos
1962 Gibson RB-170. Though openback banjos were never Gibson's claim to fame, these RB-170's have all the parts a great old-time banjo should have. The neck is mahogany with a 26-3/8" scale Brazilian rosewood fretboard and wide frets. The 11" diameter rim is 5 plys of maple and finished in a dark lacquer. The tone hoop rides on the inner edge of the wood rim, giving the banjo an archtop look. 24 nickel hooks & nuts fit in the chrome plated shoes. And a Kluson # 82 "trunk lid" complete the rim. The few new parts include a new Gotoh 5th tuner and a frosted top Remo head. With the archtop tone hoop the sound is a little bright, but not crashy, working well for melody playing. Price, with a hard case, is $1,200. Photos
1925 Gibson PB-4 converted to 5-string. I have always been fond of these Gibson ball-bearing tonering model banjos with the "shot gun hole" skirts. They seem to suit bluegrass and old time styles very well. Originally manufactured as a 4-string plectrum banjo, this instrument has a modern professionally made "Hearts & Flowers" 5 string neck. For authenticity the maker chose a Brazilian rosewood fretboard with a 26-3/16" scale. But for some reason made the main neck wood curly maple rather than mahogany to match the resonator. The rim and its parts, to my eye, is mostly original. The resonator attachment bolts, the coordinator rods, the tailpiece and tuners are parts significantly newer than the rest of the metal on the banjo. Set up with a 5/8" bridge, a new Remo frosted Weatherking head, and a set of D'Addario EJ61 string this banjo has the bright tone of Ralph Stanley's Gibson style 5 ball bearing banjo. Price is $4,500 and includes a modern Asian hard case and the original PB plectrum neck. Photos
New Recording King RKOH-05. Do you hear that? It's the weary and worrisome staff of SFI, breathing a collective sigh of relief for beginning banjo players everywhere. Why, you ask? Five words: Recording King Open Back Banjos. In recent memory, we've been consistently impressed by the quality of Recording King's budget priced guitars, and now we are happy to offer a similarly priced banjo of the same caliber. The RKOH-05 has a mahogany neck with 26-1/4" scale rosewood fretboard, and an 11" cross ply mahogany rim. Both neck and rim are attractively finished in dark red mahogany. It's outfitted with geared guitar-style tuners, and a Remo Fiberskyn head. 5th string railroad spike and SFI wire armrest installed at no additional charge. Tone is balanced and full bodied, and it plays great. A fine choice for anyone on the hunt for their first banjo, or anyone in need of a solid playable instrument that can handle overhead storage bins, festival mudslides, etc. Yours for $300 Comes with Superior gig bag. Photos
J. French Cleve'd O. banjos. J. Lafayette French made banjos in Cleveland Ohio from the 1870's to about 1900. We are currently researching J.L. French and his banjos. If you have any information on J. Lafayette French the banjo maker, or his family we would love to hear from you. We are also documenting any banjos made by his company. Please click the contact button and let us know what you know. We will also gladly answer any questions about J. French banjos to the best of our ability. Check out the in progress web site www.jfrenchbanjos.com
J. French Banjos, Contact us...
1890's Buckbee Rim. Could be a Buckbee, or could be from someone else. 10" spun over rim with 20 brackets. Original ball shoes and new hooks and nuts. Inside veneer looks like rosewood. New Fiberskyn head. $250 Photos
1890's Lyon & Healy rim. Spun over with the calf skin head resting on wood. 38 brackets. In nice condition. $250 Photos
1888ish Buckbee 11" spun over rim. 38 brackets with ball shoes. New Renaissance head. Aged very gracefully. $250 Photos
1924 Bacon Super banjo rim. 10-7/8"" with perforated tonering and all original hardware. $250 Photos
1970's Gibson RB-250 multiply wood rim and tone ring. 11" diameter. No other parts. Uses a tube and plate. $250. Photos
1928 Vega Little Wonder Rim. 10-15/16" diameter. 2-point shoes, open ball end nuts, blond maple finish. Nice condition. $350. Photos
1920 Vega Style K Rim. 10-1/8" diameter maple rim with steel hoop tonering. Burnt orange finish with some flaking. New hooks and nuts. $250. Photos
FOUR STRING & MANDOLIN BANJOS
1925 Ludwig Belvue Tenor Banjo. With tenor banjos being the musical rage in the early and mid 1920's, it certainly makes sense that drum manufacturer Ludwig got into the party. They already had designs they could use for rims, and all they needed was necks. The neck on this Belvue is walnut with a 22-7/8" scale ebony fretboard. The fretboard and peghead overlay are decorated with intricate mother of pearl inlay. The 10-3/4" diameter rim is the earlier design with the scalloped tone chamber. All the metal parts are skillfully engraved with a mix of gold plating and gunmetal gray. Additional hardware items are the original gold plated Ludwig planetary tuners and a Kershner tailpiece. Work done here at SFI includes a cleaning with a new inside frosted Remo head installed and a neck reset to cure the loose dowelstick. Price, with the original Ludwig badged hard case, is $1.200 Photos
1921 Vega Style L Whyte Laydie Mandolin Banjo. Like the Tubaphone listed above, this banjo needs a neck reset to be a playable banjo mandolin. But with original Whyte Laydie banjo rims being in demand for converting to 5-string instruments, this one is an ideal candidate. The 10-1/8" diameter rim has a calf skin head and most of it's original metal parts. The tailpiece is a replacement and its maker is unrecognizable. The as-is $800 price includes the original hard case that appears to have been coated with an epoxy of some sort. Photos
New Banjo Uke Case For Vintage Gibson UB-2 and UB-3's. Several years ago noted banjo builder and inlay artist Kevin Enoch designed and had manufactured the nicest hard case for his banjo ukuleles (see below). They fit most any banjo uke with an 8" rim, with a notable exception; vintage Gibson UB-2's and Gibson UB-3's. The plate resonator of these instruments made them taller than the Enoch case could accommodate. Partnering with Enoch Instruments, Smakula Fretted Instruments has released a modified version of that case to fit those 8" diameter vintage Gibson banjo ukes. This case is attractive, sturdy and affordable. Price is only $115 plus shipping. Photos
Banjo Uke Hard Case. Designed to the specifications of Kevin Enoch, this banjo case is certainly the nicest one on the market. It fits openback banjo ukes and 5 string piccolo banjos with an 8" diameter rim, 23-1/2" total length and a maximum depth of 3" (from the bottom of the rim to the top of the bridge). The simulated leather covering is brown, and the lid is arched for extra strength. Very nice. Affordably priced at $115. .
Here are some instruments that we are selling as-is. For details on our as-is pollicy, click here.
1891 W.A. Cole Style A. A simple banjo from Tremont Street's most famous banjo company. The neck is mahogany with a 26-5/8" scale ebonized hardwood fretboard with about .020" of relief. The rim is 11-5/16" in diameter. The construction is spun-over on the bottom with the head resting directly on the wood. Fitted with decently working celluloid friction tuners, a modern No-Knot Tailpiece, a not original Vega style neck tensioner, and Labella 17 strings. The instrument is a decent player, but to bring it to perfection that would require some work. We are selling it As Is to let you decide how much work to do to it. With a cardboard case, this as-is banjo is $700 Photos
1880's Cubley Horseshoe Bracket Banjo. The first time I saw this banjo was at an estate auction in central New York more than 20 years ago. As a good friend was bidding, I decided to not increase his cost and let it be. My surprise came about 4 years ago when a collector of old and weird instruments offered it to me when he was forced to move. Not the weirdest thing in his collection, but it certainly has its rustic charm, The neck looks like poplar and has scratched fret positions down the neck. The rim is maple, not particularly round, and is delaminating in spots. Painted red, the rim has the remains of 5 floral decals between the 6 horseshoe shaped bracket shoes. I suppose this banjo can be made playable, but I think it is better as an aged looking 19th century relic. Price, as-is; $225 Photos
1910's Gretsch. Maple neck with an ebonized hardwood fretboard (in good condition) with a 25-3/4" scale. 10-7/8" spunover rim with a decent calf skin head. Set up with ebony violin pegs and Nylgut strings. The distributor, Oliver Ditson, installed their celluloid badge on the dowelstick. Quite playable, but sold as-is. $350. Photos
1880's Monarch. Likely made by Buckbee. Neck has a 25-1/4" scale ebonized hardwood veneer fretboard nicely decorated with celluloid inlays, including the large "Monarch" at the fretboards end. The neck is not as straight as I would prefer, but is playable. The 10-11/16" rim is spunover, but when you peep through the tiny tear in the calf skin head, you can see the skin is resting directly on the wood. The wood tailpiece has a celluloid crown inlay and also a crack, but seems to be holding up nicely. Guitar style original geared tuners with bone buttons that are likely worth the price of the banjo. As-is for $450 and includes a chipboard electric guitar case to drag it around. Photos
Guide to Physical Condition;
New; An instrument that came to us from the manufacturer. It has never been owned by a consumer and has it's full warrantee.
Mint; As the instrument came from the factory. No blemishes at all
Near mint; Almost as it came from the factory
Excellent condition, a very clean instrument that has a few minor blemishes
Very Good Condition, reasonable wear for its age.
Good Condition; plenty of player wear.
Plus or minus indicates the condition is half a grade better or worse.
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