Dating fairbanks banjos
Dating fairbanks banjos
Any instrument with script lettering was made before 1946 and is called a "prewar" model, while block letters indicate a "postwar" model.Look for a Gibson decal on the inside of the wooden rim that forms the body of the banjo.
The Gibson Guitar Corporation manufactures both acoustic and electrical instruments, including banjos.
The example listed in this grouping ( S/N 27817) is a custom 5 string plectrum. The Senator No.1 features a lovely dogwood-like flower in the peghead that appears to have only occurred during the 24,000 serial numbers.
It is quite intriguing when considering the usual explanation of this transition period that was described three paragraphs earlier. Theone of about 6 known made in 1909 with the striking vine inlay peghead and a 5 piece mahogany neck. 2 that left the factory originally with a Tubaphone tone ring.
Initially called the Tango Banjo, it soon came to be called the tenor banjo.
The tuning in 5ths was very convenient for single-note playing but when chorded gave the instrument a somewhat harsh sound that led players to later simply remove the 5th string from the standard banjo creating the plectrum banjo.
From 1910 thru 1921 dowels were marked with a stamp that included both Fairbanks Banjos and Made By the Vega Co. Thus almost all new models introduced from 1904-1921 carried the name until 1922 .
The Vega catalog circa 1904-1908 unfortunately did not picture but described in detail the incredible Whyte-Laydie De Luxe model which is prohibitively rare or non-existent. 9, and the De Luxe) all of which continued the use of the Whyte-Laydies bracket band construction with un-perforated rims.That is not too surprising since these banjos are so rare that few collectors or dealers have seen or even heard of them.It does seem to be the case that by the 1920s and 30s, the production of standard 5 string banjos dropped precipitously and the vast majority of banjos manufactured were of the 4 string variety with tenors outnumbering plectrums by a ratio of perhaps three or four to one.Slightly later new Fairbanks models introduced by Vega were listed in their circa 1912 catalog and included the Senator No. First offered in 1909, it featured the Tubaphone tone ring with its square hollow chamber with perforations and became their premier line. While performing admirably for clawhammer and classic styles of playing, due to exceptional clarity in the higher ranges, it came to be especially cherished by players of the plectral style on 4 string banjos.I am aware that most collectors and players of 5 string banjos have little interest in the 4 string versions.However, totally ignoring the transition omits a big chapter of banjo history and skips some very interesting Vega Company information.