Basement find- Mystery Banjo

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Jsil13, Jul 24, 2019.

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  1. Jsil13

    Jsil13 Tele-Holic

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    So I work part time at a music store and our basement is a cluttered mess. For fun sometimes I like to rummage through things and occasionally find some cool stuff. Last year I found a weird Japanese Marvel guitar that my boss didn't even know was down there. Well today in a smelly musty gig bag I found a weird open back banjo.
    77D8B482-7B52-4A50-9BDD-68E5A86255E1.jpeg B6115894-D6BD-4131-AEBC-4B8D5D820952.jpeg E8743F95-C81C-4AD4-BD35-CFDA28E9DFCB.jpeg

    Now I don't play banjo (yet) and this one desperately needs to be cleaned and have some work done to make it playable, but I brought it home anyway. I mean look at how crazy that headstock is. I have no idea of the make or the year. So far I've just done a rudimentary cleaning and tuned it up to mess around. The tuners jump so quickly. Like an 8th of a turn will jump a whole step. I might ask my tech if he has any better tuners laying around. It also needs a new head. But the most pressing thing is resetting the neck to bring the action to a more comfortable level. It's a nice little project for me. I've only played banjo in the studio and typically with a capo and a chord chart, so it will be cool to have one readily available for stuff that I need one on.

    Any ideas as to who made it?
     
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  2. Jsil13

    Jsil13 Tele-Holic

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    Bonus Picture of the old Marvel guitar after I cleaned it up. Those awesome looking toggle switches are in a bad location and I kept shutting off the pickups while playing, so I ended up just taping the bridge pickup into the on position.
    43290987_10217205736799359_990291386827800576_n.jpg
     
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  3. Saxonbowman

    Saxonbowman TDPRI Member

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    I'm guessing its from the 20's. I have an old tenor banjo from that era which has a superficial resemblance to yours. Those old friction tuners are a pain. There are modern geared replacements. Gotohs are highly rated. There are tutorials on the web about adjusting the dowel stick which sets the neck angle. Post some pictures on Banjo Hangout and you might get some responses. Good luck!
     
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  4. Random1643

    Random1643 Tele-Afflicted

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    That's a Green Pastures model made briefly by the Oxnard Instrument Co in Riceville, Maine. Their experiments & investments in steam-powered dulcimers led to a quick demise.

    ;) Just kidding. I have no idea.
     
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  5. Jsil13

    Jsil13 Tele-Holic

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    Thank you. I've already been looking at replacing the tuners. Stewmac has some Grovers that got pretty good reviews for the price. I use Gotoh tuners on all my guitar builds and they're great so I'll look into those too.

    The dowel is missing the bracket with the pin that goes through the dowel. SM sells those too. So it looks like to get this thing playing with nice action and some tuning stability it'll need some tuners, that bracket, and a new skin. Even with what I paid for it ($30) I should be able to keep the overall budget around $150. Not bad.
     
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  6. Jsil13

    Jsil13 Tele-Holic

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    I'm not really worried about what it is anyway. I just want to get it up and running so I can annoy my neighbors.
     
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  7. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Friend of Leo's

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    Oh, they will be annoyed.
    Rest assured, they will be.
     
  8. howardlo

    howardlo Tele-Holic

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    Man, how close are your neighbors?
    I play banjo and doubt that the neighbors even know I play it. Maybe if I played it outside they might hear it.
     
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  9. unfamous

    unfamous Tele-Meister

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    Get a copy of Bob Carlin's "Fiddle Tunes for Clawhammer Banjo".
     
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  10. MDent77

    MDent77 Tele-Afflicted

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    It may annoy anyone else in the house.

    My son came by and gave me a Resonator Banjo he picked up at an Estate Sale. I never did identify a manufacturer.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    It came with a thumbpick and metal fingerpicks but using those it projected way too loud for my wife. Hah She is very supportive of me taking time for music - but found the tonality of this instrument unpleasant. :) I discarded the fingerpicks and just used my fingers. A warmer tone. I sat and experimented with it for nearly an entire Saturday. I found the small fingerboard a bear to try and navigate on. (Recorded this simple progression that Saturday) I need to develop my fingerpicking technique. Ugh.

    Good luck with yours!
     
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  11. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not a single banjo joke to this point ???
    C'mon people !!!
     
  12. Old duck

    Old duck Tele-Meister

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    Know how to keep a banjo player from choking to death? ........take your foot off his neck!
     
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  13. Jsil13

    Jsil13 Tele-Holic

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    Not that close, but for whatever reason when I imagine playing the banjo it's on the porch outside for some reason. I play acoustic out there all the time and I'm not sure if they notice or care.
    I'm a guitar finger picker too and that's how I plan to approach the banjo. What's annoying me now is the high droning string being where I'm used to the lowest string, so instead of getting my bass note I'm getting that high string. Right now I'm just looking at chord shapes and working out some of my tunes. I still need to do some serious work to this thing to make it enjoyable to play. Well enjoyable to me anyway.
     
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  14. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'd recommend taking a few lessons to get started, especially for the right hand stuff depending on if you're going to use picks or play clawhammer style. I guess the dividing line is between Pete Seegar and Earl Scruggs.

    I play some Irish stuff on a tenor banjo, but never got into five string.
     
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  15. Heathfinn

    Heathfinn Tele-Meister

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    I'm a little confused on it. The head stock looks old, but the underside and dowel look to be relatively modern. Usually the really old ones seem to look really ornate all around.
     
  16. unfamous

    unfamous Tele-Meister

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    how do you figure that?
     
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    mherrcat Tele-Holic

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  18. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    Headstock was reshaped. Its a Harmony, with the bakelite resonator, and an earlier one with the round dowel stick. I suspect the headstock was damaged, or, when someone attempted to drill out the friction pegs to add those planetarys, they damaged it and had to go narrower to drill new holes in fresh wood.
     
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  19. Jsil13

    Jsil13 Tele-Holic

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    Awesome. I'll have to check those out. The headstock is real thin in the middle. When I go to replace the tuners I may add a piece of steel to reinforce the center to make sure the top of the headstock doesn't break off.
    I don't plan on taking it too seriously, just for noodling and when the band needs something on a track. I will probably track down some DVD's or youtube videos to help me figure some stuff out.
     
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  20. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    This could be the opening to a Stephen King horror novel: you unexpectedly find a banjo in the basement :eek:
     
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