An unusual and lovely openback banjo! Edward Dobson was the least well-known of the Dobson brothers, but was still a great maker and player. We estimate this banjo is from the 1880's or 90's. The metal rim is inscribed with an owner's name, "Blanche J. Vetter," with a monogram of her initials, BJV. The treble side of the rim is inscribed "Edw. C. Dobson, Maker, 1399 B-Way N.Y., Champion Banjoist of the World." The wooden dowelstick does not bear any markings. The head itself measures about 10 3/4". Metal rim has 18 brackets. Scale length measures about 26 1/4".
When this banjo came to us, it was in extremely poor condition (had literally been rotting in a barn for decades), including previous shoddy repair work and non-original tuners. We had our senior luthier, Marc Glickman, perform an extensive reconditioning on this banjo, and consulted with him at length as to what would be both appropriate and cost-effective on this historical piece. It was completely disassembled and all the metal parts were cleaned and polished. Dowelstick was reglued. A new wedge/neck attachment was fitted, as well as a new heelcap. The banjo came to us with a Remo weatherking head that was in good condition, so we kept that. If you prefer a real skin head, we can have Marc replace that for around $100.
All 5 pegs were replaced with geared planetary tuners (due to the state of the peg holes, it would not have been cost-effective to refit for period-correct pegs, along with all the necessary cosmetic work). The headstock and headstock veneer were reconditioned. We have received comments from some vintage banjo enthusiasts expressing dismay at our decision to use geared tuners. Please understand that a great deal of thought and concern went into this decision, with much consultation with our luthier. Bushing the holes, replacing the entire faceplate veneer and transferring the inlay over would have added several hundred dollars to the already substantial repair cost. We did not feel we could resell the banjo at a high enough price to accommodate that restoration.
Marc told us he's very pleased with this instrument and it plays quite nicely. The fretboard is ever-so-slightly cupped, but has no adverse affects on playability. Action is typically on the high side for clawhammer playing. Bridge is 1/2 inch.
This would be a unique addition to any banjoist's collection, and a fine-playing instrument for clawhammer style.
If the buyer wishes, we can include a padded gig bag with the instrument.
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