I've had my eyes on a Clifford Essex Concert Grand for some time now (this one was built between 1912 and 1919 so it satisfied my historical interests given my passion for WWI history).  I know a number of players on this discussion board play Concert Grands, so I was hoping to hear their opinions on them.  I've never seen one in person and I can't try before I buy, but I love how they sound in recordings and am aware that they are often regarded as tonally improved Whyte Laydies.  Right as I was about to pull the trigger on the Concert Grand, I was offered a 1897 Cole's Eclipse 4000 (butterfly inlay) in mint, unplayed condition with its original case.  From a monetary standpoint the Cole is a fantastic deal since the seller is only asking for $1700!  The Concert Grand I was looking at is $1400, which is still a good deal I think.  How does the Eclipse compare tonally to the Concert Grand, and in terms of general playability which banjo is superior?  I've heard that Eclipses have wider fingerboards and chunkier necks than late 1890s Fairbanks banjos, so it may have a comparable feel to the Concert Grand. Having played neither, I just don't know.  There is a video on Youtube of Bill Evans playing Ragtime Episode on an Eclipse and I really like the tone he is getting, but upon closer inspection he is using a three-legged ebony-topped bridge and appears to be playing with his nails pretty far from the bridge, so I doubt it will sound the same with a proper bridge and played without any nail. 

Views: 1760

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

maple concert grand  or   rosewood XX  ?

Maple Concert Grand, but an early one with the "Clifford Essex & Co." tag.  11'' rim and 26 1/2'' scale.  The Cole has an 11'' rim and a 26 3/4'' scale.  The Concert Grand was Davie Speirs' main banjo since at least the 1960s.  

I stopped looking for "classic" banjos when I found a CE Special. The deeper pot (3-1/4") and heavier wood insert give it a slightly bassier voice that I really like. To my ears, the shallower American banjos do not have the bass response and tend towards the treble spectrum...unless they have a larger pot dia (12").

I would have a very hard time passing the Concert Grand up.

That is the way I'm leaning right now.  My quest for the right banjo has seen me acquire a few banjos that I really like the tone of but they are not the best players.  From what I've been able to find on the web, it seems like the CE Special XX and Concert Grands sound great and are great players.  I collect minstrel banjos, not later banjos, so I'm looking for a great playing banjo rather than an investment which the Cole may or may not turn out to be.

Trapdoor2 said:

I stopped looking for "classic" banjos when I found a CE Special. The deeper pot (3-1/4") and heavier wood insert give it a slightly bassier voice that I really like. To my ears, the shallower American banjos do not have the bass response and tend towards the treble spectrum...unless they have a larger pot dia (12").

I would have a very hard time passing the Concert Grand up.

1) Bill Evans plays with his fingertips, not his nails.

2) I can't tell from the video whether he is using the Hot Spot bridge I loaned him or not. It was the only bridge that produced a decent sound on his Cole. Until I asked Eric Stefanelli to make Bill a good 2 footed bridge, that is. Nowadays he mostly uses a Stefanelli 12 " Tubaphone for classic banjo.  There are good sounding Coles for sure but they seem to be best for softer music. The limited sample I have played and heard do not roar or crackle. 

3) $1400 for a maple Concert Grand in good condition is a Fantastic Bargain. I have never seen one for less than $2000. If you don't want it please tell me who is selling it and I will buy it immediately.  

4) great as Concert Grand banjos are as classic banjos, they are even better as "old-time" banjos set up with steel strings. heresy I know, but this is what I have found. Coles are no good with steel strings.

Okay, the Concert Grand it is!  Thanks to all for quieting the little voice in my head saying to go for the Cole instead of the CG.  Condition-wise the Concert Grand has a straight neck and is all original other than the tailpiece and the tuners, which unfortunately were replaced long ago with (quality) geared tuners.  It was also likely refretted at some point with slightly larger fretwire, at least from what I can tell by the photos.  

I purchased the Concert Grand so now I can link you all to it... http://www.moonguitars.co.uk/index.php/vintage-second-hand-and-spec...

I don't think the pictures do it any justice.  I think it will look much cleaner in person.  I feel like I've turned to the Dark Side buying an English banjo, but what the heck!

Oh man, you mean we can't call him up and make him a better offer? }8^)

Haha, you could I suppose, but I'd give you the evil eye at any banjo events we happened to both attend.  That and they were already holding the banjo for me.

Trapdoor2 said:

Oh man, you mean we can't call him up and make him a better offer? }8^)

Nope, don't need no evil eye...

Congrats, it looks like a very nice banjo!

Here's a photo of the banjo in 1969 on the cover of a Davey Speirs albums.  I don't normally listen to Scottish folk music (or folk music in general), but I think I'll try and find a copy of this album for the novelty of it.  Speirs was a friend of Pete Seeger and sold him his guitars.  He passed away in 2009 and the banjo was on consignment from his estate.  It's been gigged all over the UK.


By the way, anybody looking for a pristine Cole's Eclipse 4000 priced at a few thousand less than it's worth can send me a PM so I can get them in touch with the seller (with whom I have no affiliation...).  I'd love to see it go to a good home where it would be strung with nylon.
Trapdoor2 said:

Nope, don't need no evil eye...

Congrats, it looks like a very nice banjo!

congrats ; i guess it should be an early early ones ' cause there 's no serial number

Reply to Discussion

RSS

© 2021   Created by thereallyniceman.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service