The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #26388   Message #318512
Posted By: bseed(charleskratz)
13-Oct-00 - 11:35 PM
Thread Name: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
I just purchased an instrument made in the late nineteenth century, an S. S. Stewart Universal Favorite #1 five-string banjo. I guess that qualifies as vintage. The German silver pot and the rest of the hardware was all crudded up and it had a twangy frosted head, the original friction pegs tend to slip a lot--the tension screws loosen up. Still, it sounded sweet and loud, unlike any other banjo I'd ever played, and after I disassembled it and cleaned it all up and replaced the frosted with a fiberskin pot, it mellowed out beautifully without losing a bit of its volume. I haven't yet replaced the tuners, but I have geared ones on order (thin stemmed ones that won't require enlarging the holes in the tuning head). I paid for it about half what I had paid for my Wildwood (new) five years ago (and about forty-five times what it had sold for new).

In my case, I'd have to say the oldy is the goody--and I love my Wildwood, and bought it after trying a large variety of other banjos, including Gibsons and Bart Reiters. The Wildwood has the better neck; the Stewart's is just slightly warped making the strings a bit high up around the octave fret, while the action on the Wildwood is near perfect. But the sound of the Stewart gets me grinning every time I play it, or even think about it.