Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I got this Lyra of Crete and it came over the sea from Bulgaria to me. I'm certain it's pre-1920. The ancient wooden case has disintegrated.
I had this old lyra repaired to be made playable again, it had some various major problems such as detached bass bar, top, and fingerboard, and broken endpost. Now I am learning to play it slowly..I'm no fiddler, so I sound pretty bad at this point. It's got some strong voice. It's fun. :)

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Comment by Strumelia on November 10, 2014 at 10:50am

Paul, the whole instrument except for the top soundboard is carved from one solid piece of wood, and the four peg holes are original with no changes.  Some parts were obviously quite old and well used, damaged over time, adapted over time.  I think the tail piece with its two fine tuners, newer strings and bridge were replacements at some point. The end pin post looks ancient and broke half off a long time ago but still functioned.  My luthier replaced the broken half to make it stronger again.  The fingerboard has interesting slots in it- to vibrate more freely?  I don't think it's pre-1880s or anything, but I do believe it's somewhere 1880s-1910s.  I'm thinking 1925 the latest, definitely pre-1930, if you could see closups.  Wish it had some sort ID mark, but alas.  It really sings now!


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