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Thread: Help Identifying Banjo-Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Help Identifying Banjo-Mandolin

    I picked this up at a thrift store that had no idea what it was. I can't find any identifying marks on it but the case it came with says "British Made" and lists a patent number on the clasps that I unfortunately haven't found in any database. Can anyone help i.d. it, or even give a rough guess as to its age? The only photo I've found of an identical instrument came from a collector's website and they also had no info on it. I doubt it's worth much money-wise but I'm hoping it will be a bit of fun to play around with once I get a bridge and some strings on it. Speaking of which, the graphite markings make look like it may have sported more than one type of bridge over the years - a narrow banjo-style one and a wider mando-style one. Which should I give it? And what sort of strings would be appropriate? The whole instrument is only 21 and a half inches long and the pot is 8 inches wide. Thanks for your help!

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Help Identifying Banjo-Mandolin

    Looks like a lovely instrument. Those were popular in Britain in 1920's. There were many makers in UK those days. The bigger makers were Windsor, Reliance and PG&G or something similar, I can't remember off hand. Yours is interesting, as it is of open type. Most of them had backs. As instruments - banjo-mandolins ar not very popular these days. As for value - going price for a banjo-mandolin in good condition is about $150.00 at the moment. The one in need of repair is $50.00-80.00 Banjo-ukes are much more popular these days and fetch better prices. Have fun with your banjo-mandolin anyway.

    P.S. You can try both type of bridges. I think they came with the wider ones originally. But banjo-type will work too.

  3. #3
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help Identifying Banjo-Mandolin

    Not much to go on here. The asymmetrical case with its British attribution does strongly suggest UK origin. British mandolin-banjos often had smaller bodies than their US major-brand counterparts, so another indication it's British. The headstock shape and the tailpiece look pretty generic. Many British instruments did have resonators; I'd speculate that your open-back was an inexpensive or student model.

    I'd value it at less than $100. If it's in good condition, a set of light strings and a fairly low bridge should make it easily playable.
    Allen Hopkins
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Help Identifying Banjo-Mandolin

    Thanks for the info! I picked it up for next to nothing, so no disappointment about the low resale value! Can't wait to get it playable!

  5. #5
    Registered User 8ch(pl)'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Help Identifying Banjo-Mandolin

    The case is British, probably from a George S Houghton, they stamped their banjos "British made". The instrument looks American to me.

  6. #6
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help Identifying Banjo-Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by 8ch(pl) View Post
    The case is British, probably from a George S Houghton, they stamped their banjos "British made". The instrument looks American to me.
    Good point. Could well be US-made; the tailpiece looks like a common American make, and the dowel stick configuration as well, but there's really no way to tell definitively.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  7. #7
    Registered User 8ch(pl)'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Help Identifying Banjo-Mandolin

    There have been some British made banjos that use American style construction, so it may be British, but it looks American.]

  8. #8
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help Identifying Banjo-Mandolin

    The neck to rim dowel stick tightening hardware looks like Oscar Schmidt. Can't really see the peghead, but it is at least similar to my Oscar Schmidt. They made a gazillion 'no name' mandobanjo's in various degrees of niceness. I understand they were mostly sold by travelling salesmen. I have one that the previous owner bought at a flea market in Paris (Fr), so I guess it is not unusual to see them with at least some European blood. The Oscar Schmidt name is now the property of Washburn. One of the current Washburn mandolin designs has a peghead design exactly like my Oscar Schmidt mandobanjo.

    ps: I had to do some major 'adjustments' to mine to make it playable - the action was so bad that fretting it was painful (and made painfully sharp notes).

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