Would anyone have an idea of a half decent A tilley 5 strings value . One for sale here in Canada for 350 canadian. it had the first five frets replaced with a brass plate otherwise not bad. thinking it may be a good player for classic. 

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Comment by Joel Hooks on January 9, 2020 at 15:38

Hi Steve, we might be able to help you.

But first, could you tell me the value of a half decent Ford pick up that is for sale here in the US?

It has had the wheels replaced but otherwise not bad.

I am thinking it would be good for hauling a mobile home or boat.

Comment by marc dalmasso on January 9, 2020 at 16:02

LOL  : Joel is right  /  That mean 's  , without pictures , impossible to value something

Comment by steve leuschner on January 9, 2020 at 20:19

an 1880 ford truck about 5 grand. im not asking for a written appraisal here just a rough idea . since this is my first post here ever im not sure how to add photos yet and i dont have any but it is not a zither and from the photos i saw its a nickel brass rim, mahogany neck 18 fret a tilley maybe 1885ish. anyone have one or know anything about them? til1.jpgtil2.jpg

Comment by Jody Stecher on January 9, 2020 at 20:59

Well I can tell you it has been set up post 1970 to play a version of traditional Appalachian banjo music.  That music is microtonal and the absence of lower frets makes it possible for the banjo player to match the exact modal pitches of singers and fiddle players, whereas frets would make it approximate. But for "classic" banjo music, which is 100% harmonic, the frets are a great advantage. This banjo in its present condition would be disadvantageous for classic banjo music.  The price is low. That is in its favor. Is the neck straight? Unwarped? Has half a century of steel strings  had a bad affect? Is the hoop perfectly round or has it become an ellipse?  These are some things to check for.

If you saw the photos on the internet just copy and paste the link and we'll have a look. Could be a nice banjo. Or not.

Comment by marc dalmasso on January 9, 2020 at 22:32

 Jody is allright ; and more , this Tilley seems to be a 12 inches ' one . and if  it should be your 1st classic banjo , better is to own a regular 11 ' one with the full scale  ( 22 frets )

Comment by steve leuschner on January 10, 2020 at 1:06

thank you, I could play some down style and up style old time , maybe some minstrel style. it has been stung with nylgut for years he said.  have a tuba lady (eastman whyteladie with 27 tubaphone ) with nylon strings sounding fairly good . I do need to see it in person. wondering if the pice of around 290 USA dollars is ok if its playable for me . Thanks again everyone 

Comment by Joel Hooks on January 10, 2020 at 14:29

Sorry about having a little fun but your request (with equal amount of info given) is very common.  Simply giving a maker's name is basically no information. Banjo makers span decades during a rapidly changing popular music trend (and the form and quality of the banjos changed significantly during that time).  Add to that, every builder offered different price point levels.

The photos help.  This banjo would be a hard pass for me at any cost other than free.  The only reason I would take it for free would be to resale it.

Jody covered the mod to the fingerboard.  Frankly that is a trend that I just don't get.  Anytime I see that I think-- gosh, the former owner was either too cheap to spring for a re-fret (that would not be needed had they not used wire strings) or they want to make the banjo "folksy".  This pattern of making the lower portion of the neck fretless is recent as far as banjos go.  I think it is silly.


Play a fretless banjo (there are plenty old and new) or play a fretted.  If you want both then play a flush fret banjo.

For classic banjo there are plenty of great banjos that have not been adulterated.  Save that money for something better (look for CE Specials or higher for a great value in classic banjos but make sure that they survived the "folk era" without wire strings or neck resets before you buy one). 

Comment by steve leuschner on January 10, 2020 at 15:12

Thank you for the advice. I think i will pass.

Comment by Jody Stecher on January 10, 2020 at 23:03

Joel, it is not silly, it is practical. In the regional style for which the modified fingerboard is intended the melody generally does not go above what would be the 7th fret on a fretted banjo. But sometimes 2 banjos are used. The second banjo did not play with the clawhammer down-picking technique, but with thumb going down and fingers going up, just as in classic banjo playing. Generally that 2nd banjo plays an octave above the other banjo, and in unison with the fiddle. It is  chord position based playing. Once one gets past half way up the neck it is difficult to play chords in tune and to play them ringing clear on a fretless instrument. So the frets are essential fo clarity. By covering only the lower fingerboard with a metal plate the player is offered the opportunity to play in either style using one banjo. Two For One!  Not silly at all.

Also a flush fret banjo does allow for microtones. There is not a continuum of possible pitches, as there is on a fretless instrument.

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