Hi everyone, first a big THANK YOU to this website host for approving my request to becomd a member.

Recently, I bought this zyther/banjo from an estate sale. It is alleged to be from 1900. I do not know the maker and is in a desperate need of repair that I am willing to do. It previous owner did a bad job on it. I would love to share pictures of it before I took it apart and afterwards.

If anyone could help me to upload these picture I would deeply appreciated.

Views: 223

Comment by thereallyniceman on August 17, 2023 at 17:35

To upload a photo click the icon and chose the file from your computer. (Select "centre" to pack the picture view best on the website)

The banjo is probably a Zither, not Zyther!

Comment by Jaime riera on August 17, 2023 at 18:30

Thank you, I posted that note from my mobile. I appreciate your guidance and advise on how to restore this great insturument. Any comment and feedback in how to restore it would be appreciated. Please bear in mind that I bought this instrument from an estate sale in USA and I am currently living in Maryland, USA.

I started to purchase some items to replace those that are not part of it, this instrument had all steel strings (Big No since it requires nylon and steel, I believe).

I bought calf skin from Touch Stone Wood to put it on it. The zyther/banjo strings and bridge is also from another UK store. 

I do not know if the serial number is much of help or the store.

How do I clean this metal part and its tuner? the tuners are rusted. Would be advisable to put them in a jar full of vinegar? I do not know it these tuners could  be restored. If not, where I could get similar to these ones?

Look at this metal thing on it. What is the purpose of it and it has a side broken. Although, the screw on it I do not think it is part of it since it is too new. No rust and is shining.

Any suggestion in cleaning this metal parts? Some screws are brass and this metal part looks like nickel. Could I use Blue Magic 500-06 Metal Polish clean or should I replace them with new parts? If it is the latter, where should i get them from>

This part should be replaced. Anyone knows where I could get a new one? and what is the purpose of it?

This show how a poor job of restoring this zyther banjo was subject to. When I saw it, my heart ache in pain seeing how someone could inflict such an "injury" to this amazing instrument. (I apologize for the dramatism, all my string instruments have names and I believe they talk to me)

I want to appreciate everyone's help and patience in going through this lenghty post and my apologies for taking your time.  I want to rebuild this instrument and bring it to its glory and learn to play it soon.

Regards and thank you again to the creator of this website. I am looking forward to share pictures of this instrument and its restoration evolution.

Warm wishes to all of you


Comment by thereallyniceman on August 20, 2023 at 6:48

Before I make comment I must point out that I am not a luthier so my suggestions and comments are my feelings.  I have one question: What was the "action" of the strings at the 12th fret with a bridge fitted? A serious problem with old zither banjos (particularly if they have been fitted with all steel strings) is that wooden back and hoop deform and bend upwards. There may be a crack where the banjo neck meets the wooden hoop. To stop this bending the makers fit adjustable brackets that screw in and out pressing on the side of the metal hoop to stop it moving. Over time this deforming problem can get so bad and the action so high that the instrument is impossible to play. It looks like this has happened and some butcher has added the screws and maybe that dowel rod in an attempt to force things back in to line.  You may have serious and possibly un-repearable problems!

A polish like  "Handbell Polish" or Simichrome will clean the metalwork.  I don't know the cost of the instrument or the value if perfect, but Zither banjos do not attract high prices.

Sorry I can't really help more. Unfortunately our real expert on Zither banjos, David Wade, died a couple of years ago but his website still exists. It may be worth a look:




Good luck with your restoration!

Comment by Jody Stecher on August 20, 2023 at 14:09

Simichrome has worked for me for metal polish. FLITZ is even better.  This looks like an early instrument, but not a high model or a monetarily valuable one. It might sound good anyway. 

Comment by Steve Harrison on August 21, 2023 at 8:32

Hi Jaimie, this comment may seem a bit off the wall, but if the metal parts are made from a copper alloy such as brass, I've found that putting them in a dish and covering them with Tomato Ketchup for a number of hours does the trick. It sounds unlikely, but I've used this method in the past and it has always worked for me. It's a good non abrasive way of cleaning...Steve.

Comment by Richard William Ineson on August 21, 2023 at 10:42

The sticker on the back of the peg head brought back some memories for me. The Michael Davis organisation used to collect and pack all manner of items purchased by American antique dealers and collectors all over the UK, and ship them to the USA for them in the 1970s. I used to buy all kinds of things for them - they used to send a shopping list to anybody who was willing to get things together for them in quantity, wash stands, washboards, jugs and bowls, wooden candlesticks, wooden biscuit barrels, wooden bread boards etc. all things which were old and  plentiful. This banjo must have been part of one of their shipments.

Comment by Richard William Ineson on August 25, 2023 at 15:31

My wife complains that I never throw anything away, I just found this Michael Davis calendar from 1977. I can't remember them asking me to find any banjos for them in those days.

Comment by Jake Glanville on April 22, 2024 at 17:19

Dear Jaime,

Just wondered how you got on with the zither-banjo you posted in August of last year?

It seems to have suffered a certain amount of bodging in the past, which is of course a great pity.

I've seen several zither-banjos with the same design on the back, and all by different makers, which makes it difficult to identify who made yours but my guess is that it's a Dulcet.  These were made by Barnett, Samuel & Sons in England.

By now you've probably received the answers to all your questions, but just in case you haven't allow me my ten penny worth.

WD-40 (I assume it or an equivalent is available in the USA) is excellent for any rusty parts.  Or you could try tomato ketchup!  It does work.

Broken parts cannot be replaced new, but there are plenty of second hand spares in the UK (which is of course the home of the ZB).  Just put out an appeal on this site.  The nickel or chrome plated tuners can be fairly easily repaired if you're a dab hand with the soldering iron and you've found some old tuning keys somewhere (plenty over here).  If you need any help contact me on this site.

By the way, it isn't true that all ZB's had a mixture of steel and gut strings, or that this is the 'proper' way to have them strung.  That was a myth put out by Essex and Cammeyer around the end of the 19th century!

Best wishes,


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