Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Noticed some discussion on Ashborne banjos. Thought this might be interesting to someone. I know it isn't an Ashborne but the tensioning system is similar.


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That appears to me to be a heavily modified (nearly destroyed) Ashborn body with a period (potentially later 19th century) replacement neck.

Scott-- I agree with with Greg about the general origins of this relic.  Banjos like this one are known as composite instruments. Though I've created two perfectly usable banjos in the past from these marriages, this one appears to be D. O. A.  I think it should be stuffed and mounted on somebody's wall.--Rob

Likewise. When I first heard Joe Ayers' "Virginia Minstrels" recording I started looking for something to play. Caleb Cressman had a neck from a 1867 HC Dobson for me. The unique pot assembly was nowhere to be had and faced with getting something up to play I elected to mate it to a simple single ply deep 12" rim. I was able to retain the fingerboard extension but had to re-work the heel a little to fit the rim. I thought about trying to make a reproduction pot but at the time, without all the resources that are around today, I didn't think I was up to the task. It is perfectly usable for me, maybe more so than if it had been complete but very beat up. Dave

Greg, if you mean that you think the rim of this banjo started out as an actual Ashborn rim, I would disagree. The thickness of the rim is definitely greater than on a true Ashborn, and the wooden bracket band is too thick horizontally and too thin vertically (not to mention being fastened on with screws and, as the curvature of the band to accommodate the neck indicates, it is not set into the rim itself, as it would be on an Ashborn). Clearly, however, it was modeled on an Ashborn, and is a very interesting effort in that regard.


Your closer observations make sense to me. Good call! Great banjo!


I tend to agree with Greg about this banjo being a Frankenstein of sorts. If the price was about 1/10th of what they are asking I'd take one for the team and see what this ones all about. Speaking of Joe Ayers' Virginia Minstrel recording, does anyone have a copy of that they would be willing to part with? I lost mine years ago along with all of Joes recordings when someone stole my music from my vehicle. I bet they were surprised when they got home!

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