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Thread: Any clues as to the maker of this banjo-mandolin?

  1. #1

    Question Any clues as to the maker of this banjo-mandolin?

    It was my great-grandmother's -- has what appears to be an older hide head, and snail or MoP inlay.

    I had a luthier repair a nasty crack up the neck, and otherwise stabilize it into playable condition. But there don't appear to be any serial numbers or maker's marks on the outside -- and I'd rather not undo his good work by removing strings and resonator to get a peek at the inside.

    Any thoughts on make and age, based on these photos? I'm not quite as interested in market value, since I don't plan to sell -- but any ballpark estimates are welcome, for insurance purposes

    Link to photos since I can't get MC's uploader to work.

  2. #2
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any clues as to the maker of this banjo-mandolin?

    May be on the Rim stick or inside the rim , but cant see it with the back 'resonator' left on ..
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  3. #3
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any clues as to the maker of this banjo-mandolin?

    Here are the photos.

    First of all that headstock inlay was a standard one supplied by a pearl supplier. I have seen it on many other banjos and mandolins.

    Second that headstock shape looks lop-sided in that photo. I am guessing it was cut down from an original one or else whoever reworked it made a new (at that time) neck. It could have been the same person who created that resonator which does not look original to me either. That is a really strange way that tailpiece is attached to the resonator with that gap around the inner banjo pot.

    Come to think of it that neck joint is strange too. I assume it has an extra long heel to attach through the resonator to the actual banjo pot.

    I think that possibly the original banjo supplied the head, pot, brackets and shoes, possibly tuners, taipiece and fretboard but that the rest of it—the neck and resonator were added by some amateur luthier. That bridge looks newish—did you luthier make that?

    Looks like that pot has an arch to it from the tone ring. How big is that head. It looks small like 8"?

    I agree with mandroid. If there are any identifying marks they would probably be inside on the rim or the dowelstick.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Any clues as to the maker of this banjo-mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Here are the photos.

    First of all that headstock inlay was a standard one supplied by a pearl supplier. I have seen it on many other banjos and mandolins.

    Second that headstock shape looks lop-sided in that photo. I am guessing it was cut down from an original one or else whoever reworked it made a new (at that time) neck. It could have been the same person who created that resonator which does not look original to me either. That is a really strange way that tailpiece is attached to the resonator with that gap around the inner banjo pot.

    Come to think of it that neck joint is strange too. I assume it has an extra long heel to attach through the resonator to the actual banjo pot.

    I think that possibly the original banjo supplied the head, pot, brackets and shoes, possibly tuners, taipiece and fretboard but that the rest of it—the neck and resonator were added by some amateur luthier. That bridge looks newish—did you luthier make that?

    Looks like that pot has an arch to it from the tone ring. How big is that head. It looks small like 8"?

    I agree with mandroid. If there are any identifying marks they would probably be inside on the rim or the dowelstick.
    Thanks for this insight. The head is 9", and yes, the luthier provided the bridge. Since you mentioned it, I can see how a lot of the features are quite homespun/amateurish, which is interesting. I notice now that the space between the resonator and rim is supported by two large brackets at either end of the dowel stick, which probably explains how the tailpiece can sustain the tension from where it's anchored. Weird!

    If the inlay is common stock, I agree there isn't much more info to go on until I get a glimpse at the inside of the rim — I'll wait until it needs a string change before pulling off the resonator.

  5. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any clues as to the maker of this banjo-mandolin?

    I've never seen a resonator mandolin-banjo with the tailpiece attached to the resonator, rather than to the shell of the banjo itself. Concur with the hypothesis that a probably "trade" instrument has been re-worked, with a re-figured or replaced headstock, and an "after-market," quite possibly home-made, resonator attached. The spacing of the brackets around the shell, makes it impossible to attach the tailpiece to a bracket opposite the neck, which is the standard method. So, maybe this one was designed to have its tailpiece attached to its resonator, but that surely is an unusual configuration -- at least, in my experience.
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