A Site Dedicated to all enthusiasts of Classic Style Banjo
I found an old banjo in a junk shop two years ago and its only now that I have a bit of space to renovate.
I had two main questions when I started to look at this, "what is the age of the instrument? The web is a wonderland for projects such as this and after a bit of searching I found my banjo had a makers stamp on it with the name and address A Stanley, 2 Eccleston Street SW. I found a reference to a performer on A Stanley who had a connection with Greenop banjos.
British Banjo Makers Part 2 'Norton Greennop was born in 1868 and was closely associated with the fretted instruments for over forty years. he played the banjo with the Moore & Burgess Minstrels and The Stavordales but was more widely known for his long partnership with Arthur Stanley Sr. The team of Stanley & Greenop toured every Music Hall in the United Kingdom from 1903 more than once and even did a tour of South Africa. The partnership broke tip just prior to the outbreak of World War I'
notice signature of owner on the vellum from 1905 It seems it belonged to a Mr Smith of London
A Stanley, 2 Eccleston Street stamp
From Zither banjo.org
'One of the earliest of commercial makers in London was teacher and dealer named William Nice. In the early 1870s he had a shop and studio at 2 Eccleston Street, Victoria, from which he sold his own make of unfretted banjo. He had various addresses near Victoria Station before the year when he moved to 122 Fleet Street, E.C. It is interesting to note that Will Mitchell (many years later to be in charge of the Clifford Essex workshops) was employed by Nice before he (Mitchell) went to the workshops of Richard Spencer.
Nice ran a flourishing studio and shop in Fleet Street teaching all the
fretted instruments and selling banjo and zither-banjos he had helped fashion in his workshop. His premises were the meeting place for many professionals of the day.
When he died, Arthur Stanley (the elder) took over his business but did continue the manufacturing side'
So Arthur took on an existing business, If anybody out there can add to the Arthur Stanley, 2 Eccleston Street story or anything connected please contact this site.
Why six machine heads (of a guitar type) only four notches in the nut but five string receivers. Well Andy Perkins of Andy Perkins traditional instruments Faversham Kent explained that there is a tube running down inside the fretboard for what I would call the resonator string it seems only 5 tuners are used and this was just a cheap method of using guitar machines instead of dedicated banjo pegs. Andy also sold me new vellum for the resonator head (the old one has been on the banjo for 100 years), a new fifth string pip, a bridge and new machine heads. What a mind of knowledge he is.
The instrument was in a bit of a state when I got it, the wood had been damp then had dried out what will follow will be a number of images of what the Banjo was like.
The back is glued, with the major split repaired.
The neck is excellent, just really polish wear, dirt and grease so time for a good spruce up. I cleaned off the dirt with 'Stardrops' then cut back the finish with various grades of wet and dry paper.
The old machine heads taken off the head stock, I shall replace them with a set of Wilkinson geared open back Machines.
The old french polish has been taken back with 400 and 600 grit wet and dry paper. I have left as much metal hardware on as possible because 110-year-old screws have a tendency to snap as I have found out to my cost.
My final layers of french polish using button polish, I trained as a french polisher when I first left school.
Cleaning all the metal parts with a Dremal when it comes to cleaning 100-year-old bolts you will need one.
I needed to clean the metal work and an Artist working in precious metals suggested Blitz foam, the tone rings sparkled after years of dust and sweat, it is a great product where a straight metal polish can be too harsh.
I used a solution of one part linseed oil two parts turps to refresh and clean the inner body.
A shot of the inside, for the makers number.
Fitting the new machine heads but a word of warning you
will need to cut the shank down as they were made for a guitar.
Get a good sharp hacksaw and finish off with a soothing file.
I did not want to put a new fretboard on the instrument so a guy from Ohio
e-mailed me to say fill the dips with heated shellac.
Punching holes in the dry vellum.
Cleaning the flesh ring
Of great help was the website of Dennis Taylor who had a section 'How to fit a Vellum', here are a few shots of how I got on. putting into position the damp vellum, also took a look at the website of Jim Fleeting Guitars.