Hi, there are plenty of these on ebay, but given the age of them I would rather get one that has been properly restored by a luthier who knows about this instrument - is this possible?

Ritchie

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Thanks for postig those pictures, Richard. Looks like it's in very good condition.

So who were the builders of the Vibrante and the Vibrante Royal models? Are they known? Are there any differences between the different makes?

It is in very good condition, plays well and is very loud. Sidney Young built most/all of the Cammeyer Zither Banjos i think, Cammeyer retired in 1938 and Sidney Young carried on making them for Alvey Turner. I wouldn't have thought that there was much demand for Zither Banjos after World War2 but Eli Kaufman told me that they were still selling well into the 1960s. This is my personal and only ZB at present, and it is the only Sidney Young stamped ZB I've come across. The original case which was high quality and made from leather, developed a fungal infection which rotted it away so it had to be burnt in the interests of public safety.

A lot of the early Cammeyer ordinary banjos were imported from the USA, you often see Cole 'Eclipse' banjos with Cammeyer or Essex&Cammeyer marks on them. Cam brought a ZB with him when he came to the UK in 1888, this eventually came into the possession of Len Broomfield and I could have bought it c1990 but I wasn't interested in it at the time and didn't really take a lot of interest in looking at it. I've also only ever seen one example of the small 'Mignonette' model but lots of 'Patents' and a few 'Tropical'
models etc.

The best Cammeyer ZB, I ever owned, a Vibrante, was made from Amboyna wood.

As many people have also commented. a lot of/most ZBs are pretty useless/poor quality so in my opinion it is better to stick to the prominent manufacturers, don't go for the ZBs with lots of MOP and not much else. We have saying in the North, which applies to these banjos ( and other things) 'Fur coat and no knickers'.

Another point about ZBs which Jody Stecher pointed out some time ago, is that the strings on ordinary banjos are supposed to sound alike whereas the strings on ZBs are supposed to sound different to each other.
Another aid to identifying a decent ZB is weight, my Sidney Young ZB weighs in at 4.5 kilos.

mine is probably half that, yes its a poor example. 

It would be interesting if Ning members compiled a list of the weights of various makes and styles of banjo, I don't think that this has been done before.

I like the Weigh Your Banjo suggestion, Richard. My bathroom scale measures only in pounds and  fifths  of a pound, No ounces and no grams. It's ok like that? For instance my 1909 Bacon Professional FF weighs 6.2 pounds on my scale. If this is a useful number for your proposed project I will weigh and post the weights of my other banjos, Perhaps a new topic and thread is called for?

I think that it's an interesting project which has not been tackled before, I'm too old to be in charge of anything but if you feel able to coordinate the necessary work I would be glad to weigh my banjos and submit the results for listing.

HA!  I might be older than you :-)    and I don't wanna be in charge of nuttin' neither.  I got a "full plate" these days. But does anyone need to be in charge?

Richard William Ineson said:

I think that it's an interesting project which has not been tackled before, I'm too old to be in charge of anything but if you feel able to coordinate the necessary work I would be glad to weigh my banjos and submit the results for listing.

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