Hi,

What would be a reasonable price for one of these in good order, and are they good for classic banjo style? 

Thnks

Ritchie

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Evidently I was off on what I thought these were worth in an earlier discussion. I was informed that $1200 was a good price.

Provided it is a 5 string, then it was designed and made for what we now call classic banjo today.

I have a later Concert Grand and it is spectacular. 

I am not aware of a Clifford Essex Model called "Special X" .  A similar name is "XX Special" and I paid a bit more than the equivalent of $2200 USD and I think I got a fair price.  They are very good for classic style and they are also stout enough to handle steel strings and they sound good that way as well.  Nicknamed "The Whyte Laydie On Steroids" these banjos and its successor The Concert Grand, have a characteristic sound that I find very appealing. Its sound is something like "oh" at the low end, "ah" in the mid range, "ee" at the top and everywhere there is also a sound like "ping". It's a focused sound and has a short sustain which makes it ideal for classic style, especially for ragtime. 

Thanks, it has CE Special X stamped on the wooden dowel stick, supposed ly dates from 1904/5, is tthat the same as an XX?

 I presumed the missing X was a typo. 

Oh!  This might be a CE Special. It's a less valuable model monetarily but musically desirable if it's all in working orr. Is the hoop (the "pot") covered with metal? Is it all wood?  Definitely the price I quoted is way too high. But it can be a wonderful banjo.  Look around this website for discussions about it.   Is there a photo ?

ritchie thomson said:

Thanks, it has CE Special X stamped on the wooden dowel stick, supposed ly dates from 1904/5, is tthat the same as an XX?

The CE   special X   is the model  prior  to the CE  Boudoir  , exactly same construction  but  10 1/2  inches   ( Boudoir = 11 ' )   It 's a rarity  ; i   own   one  , and  i 've only seen a couple of these  offered on ebay , including the one  here , which seems to be priced at the right price

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Clifford-Essex-Co-CE-Special-X-Banjo-Cas...

Hi Marc,

In the US, starting in the early 1890s, a "Special sized" banjo (which was 10 1/2" rim and shorter scale) was a banjo designed to be pitched one step above C, or pitched with the 4th string to D and all others one step higher than standard.

Farland adopted this as his preferred banjo size.  Stewart made him a "Special Thoroughbred" which was a "Special" sized Thoroughbred with a three octave neck.  I think that was in 1893, I covered this in the most recent issue of the "5 Stringer" so someone can check my footnote for the year.

Your description of the Special X seems to conform to the "Special Sized" banjos made by SSS and others for being pitched at D.

marc dalmasso said:

The CE   special X   is the model  prior  to the CE  Boudoir  , exactly same construction  but  10 1/2  inches   ( Boudoir = 11 ' )   It 's a rarity  ; i   own   one  , and  i 've only seen a couple of these  offered on ebay , including the one  here , which seems to be priced at the right price

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Clifford-Essex-Co-CE-Special-X-Banjo-Cas...

Joel, were lighter gauge strings used on the Special models?  I guess with a shorter scale that would not be necessary.
Joel Hooks said:

Hi Marc,

In the US, starting in the early 1890s, a "Special sized" banjo (which was 10 1/2" rim and shorter scale) was a banjo designed to be pitched one step above C, or pitched with the 4th string to D and all others one step higher than standard.

Farland adopted this as his preferred banjo size.  Stewart made him a "Special Thoroughbred" which was a "Special" sized Thoroughbred with a three octave neck.  I think that was in 1893, I covered this in the most recent issue of the "5 Stringer" so someone can check my footnote for the year.

Your description of the Special X seems to conform to the "Special Sized" banjos made by SSS and others for being pitched at D.

marc dalmasso said:

The CE   special X   is the model  prior  to the CE  Boudoir  , exactly same construction  but  10 1/2  inches   ( Boudoir = 11 ' )   It 's a rarity  ; i   own   one  , and  i 've only seen a couple of these  offered on ebay , including the one  here , which seems to be priced at the right price

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Clifford-Essex-Co-CE-Special-X-Banjo-Cas...

From the little evidence I have on strings for these, they used the same but were shorter scale.

From all that I have read, we fuss WAY more over strings than was done during the classic era.

Well sure. We have choices. How much choice between strings was available in the classic era? I never fussed about banjo strings when I was a teenager in the 1950s. I took what I could get. And that was Black Diamond. It was like Henry Ford and his workers. "They can have any color they want so long as it is black". Every now and then Bell Brand was available. We all heard that there were Gibson banjo strings but no shop carried them. La Bella might have produced gut strings or  nylon strings but no banjo player I knew had ever seen a set. We never heard of mail order strings either.  Slight diversion, but not by much: the most convincing argument I ever read about the secret of the varnish of Antonio Stradivari was that he went to the equivalent of the local hardware store and asked for varnish and they gave him what they had. Someone had the brilliant idea to analyze the varnish on furniture from Cremona from the time of Stradivarius, They found it to be identical to Strad violin varnish.  So yeah, one doesn't fuss over choices when there are few or none.  
Joel Hooks said:

From the little evidence I have on strings for these, they used the same but were shorter scale.

From all that I have read, we fuss WAY more over strings than was done during the classic era.

Hi Ritchie - in the UK I would currently expect to pay anywhere from £650 to £950 for a Clifford Essex CE Special in good condition; may be around £450 if it needed work. The woodhoop ones are rarer and may be closer to the top-end.

Thanks everyone for your help, much appreciated.

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