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Thread: Incredibly bizarre old banjo-mandolin

  1. #1
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    Default Incredibly bizarre old banjo-mandolin

    Hi all! I recently picked this old mando-banjo off of eBay, and I was wondering if anyone can help me figure out its history. To take a wild guess, I'd say this was a one-off custom instrument made made in the 20s or 30s. I wonder who B was?

    The layered neck made me think of Lange, but the construction (and coloring) isn't the same. I've never seen a mando-banjo with a 9th-fret neck join. The 11" rim has 3 of these odd lateral braces (including one right above the dowel stick), as well as sound ports spaced around it. It's a very thick rim, with essentially an archtop wooden "tone-ring." The resonator is glued on! The fingerboard has a center stripe of maple, and some imperfect arrow-shaped inlays. The ebony bridge is weird, too, with a big cutout in the middle of it, and a sinuous curve to the top.

    So, any thoughts? Thanks so much!
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Incredibly bizarre old banjo-mandolin

    It looks like a hand done marriage of a mandolin neck on a banjo pot. The spacers on the lugs might mean a tone ring or something was removed from the rim. It may not be the elusive banlo killer but it should be loud.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Incredibly bizarre old banjo-mandolin

    Thanks for the reply! Yeah I'm going to take it to a banjo builder to refurbish it. I'm hoping it'll be loud enough to keep up with a few fiddles and guitars as a four-stringer. I wonder if there's enough space in there to fit a simple brass tone ring, or if that's a bad idea…

  4. #4
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Incredibly bizarre old banjo-mandolin

    Like the hypothesis that it's a hybrid. An 11-inch pot's quite large for a mandolin banjo, though fairly standard for a 5-string or tenor.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Incredibly bizarre old banjo-mandolin

    Interesting tuner plates on what look to be Waverly tuners. I wonder if the plate ends have been modified which if they have, has been done to a fairly intricate shape- certainly, not taking the easy way out.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Incredibly bizarre old banjo-mandolin

    nathanh , You might get some information if you post on Banjo hangout. A tone ring will interfere with the fret board. The tuners are on upside down. I would get a new head and new strings and give it a try before committing to a refurbishing. Whoever put this together may be a Red Sox fan.
    Last edited by MrMoe; Jul-28-2021 at 6:11pm.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Incredibly bizarre old banjo-mandolin

    I think the tuners are on correctly, if reversed they would be way out on the end as off looking as they are now, maybe more so.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  8. #8
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Exclamation Re: Incredibly bizarre old banjo-mandolin

    I got a Synthetic banjo head on mine *. head diameter & the amount the tension ring pulls it down over the rim edge

    helps size a new one

    the many holes in the rim let the sound out since back is closed..

    * A Maple Vega.. they're Fun ..
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Incredibly bizarre old banjo-mandolin

    I do not have any experience with tuners where the string tension pull the gears away from each other rather than together. Are these reverse tuners? ( I am sure the answer is in a post, I will look now)

    Indeed these could be reverse. Zooming in I see you are missing a gear.
    Last edited by MrMoe; Jul-29-2021 at 7:33am. Reason: update

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Incredibly bizarre old banjo-mandolin

    Yes missing a gear. A lot of older tuners pulled away from the gear, but turned in the correct direction. It would be called worm over, or worm under.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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