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 Post subject: Frankenjo
PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2015 9:45 am 
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Got a kick out of a regional Craigs' List add for a "vintage SS Stewart" tenor banjo that has had everything replaced but the rim, as far as I can tell:

-----------Here's The Ad------------

I am selling my 1930's SS Stewart (Gibson TB-11) five string conversion banjo. The banjo is in very good condition and sounds awesome and loud. It started out as an all original tenor banjo and then the tenor neck and brass hoop were removed and replaced with a very nice curly maple Frank Neat five string neck (told by previous owner) and vintage Huber No-Hole tone ring. The original tuners are still on the tenor neck and new Gotoh two-band tuners were installed on the neck. The head is a new Stew Mac top frosted high crown. The bridge is a new Scorpion. The tailpiece is a pre-war Grover Presto that has not been punched for the fifth string. Come check it out. You will like it. I will post photos this weekend.

----------Doing the Math--------------

He doesn't say if he has kept the original brackets. Here's a list of things that didn't come on the S.S. Stewart that are on it now:

Frank Neat(?) 5-string Neck
New Gotoh Tuners
New Stew Mac Head (which would have been an acceptable upgrade if the rest of the banjo had been left alone)
New Scorpion Bridge
Huber Tone Ring (presumably from another vintage banjo)
Grover Presto Tailpiece (presumably from another vintage banjo)

Here's a list of the things that the S.S. Stewart started out with that it doesn't have now:

Tenor Neck
Original Tuners
Head (okay, that's technically a replaceable item)
"Brass Hoop" (sort of a tone ring)
Tailpiece

So what he has is an S.S. Stewart pot and maybe brackets, with every other piece replaced. It may be a fine banjo. He doesn't really specify if the original parts are all still available for anyone who wants to restore the thing.

Who knows, it may even be worth $4000 (his asking price) to SOMEBODY. But considering that the most important part of a banjo as far as playability is concerned is the neck, and that many banjo pots in the price range where this thing started out were virtually interchangeable, what exactly makes this an "S.S. Stewart" banjo in any meaningful sense?

Reminds me of a joke my dad told about a man who bragged that he had a "hundred-year old axe" that, over its lifetime had had three heads and five handles.

When it comes to "value" I classify this in the same category as the ~$350 vintage saxophone that a fellow keeps posting for $10,000 because it was reputedly played by a bandmate of Rudy Vallee. I hope they both get their asking price - the buyers will deserve everything they get out of the deal.


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Paul Race playing a banjo. Click to go to Paul's music home page.Whatever else you get out of our pages, I hope you enjoy your music and figure out how to make enjoyable music for those around you as well.

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    - Paul Race Click to see Paul's music home page Click to contact Paul through this page. Click to see Paul's music page on Facebook Click to see Paul's music blog page Click to hear Paul's music on SoundCloud. Click to sign up for the Creek Don't Rise discussion forum. Click to learn about our Momma Don't Low Newsletter. Click to see Paul's Twitter Page Click to see Paul's YouTube Channel.



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