Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wanna Really Cool Banjo?

I bumped into a lady the other day who wanted to sell a banjo.

Why do I need a banjo?  I don't play one. I don't know much about them.  I've always thought you had to wear overalls and spit tobacco to own one.

Oh, well, "Let me think about it", I told her.  "I'll call you if I decide to buy it."

I beat feet home to Google the banjo details.  Not a lot of info, but what I did learn led me to make a decision . . . I now own a very rare and old (91 years) House of Stathopoulo Peerless 'Supurb' model 4-string plectrum banjo.  This thing is in immaculate condition for its age.  It even came with the original hardshell case, which is beat up, but that's why the banjo is in such good shape . . . it was well protected.

Take a look, then I'll share some details.

Now, that I've peeked your curiosity I'll share a few details about this little devil.

What little information I could find says that the House of Stathopoulos Company was founded in 1873 by Anastasios Stathopoulos, a maker of fiddles and lutes.  Stathopoulos moved to the Long Island City in Queens, NY in 1903, from what was then Smyrna, Ottoman Empire (now Izmir, Turkey).  Anastasios died in 1915, and his son, Epaminondas (Epi), took over the company.  Just after the end of WWI, the company began to make banjos (the period when this banjo was produced - 1923, and it sold for a whopping $102 - a great amount at the time), and continued until 1928, when the company took the name Epiphone Banjo Company, producing its first guitars (Epiphone, named after 'Epi' Stathopoulos) in 1928. Deaths in the family and a labor dispute in 1951 forced the company to relocate from New York to Philadelphia.  The company was bought in 1957 by its main rival, Gibson.  If you insist on knowing more, Google Epiphone guitars for a rundown.

So, you can see that this banjo is vintage.

OK, now to the good stuff.

It's a long scale banjo with 22 frets, which makes it a 'plectrum', rather than a 'tenor', a reason beyond age for its rarity.  It's in exceptionally good condition.  With the exception of the head, which is a newer replacement and the Grover replacement bridge, everything about the banjo is original.  The neck is straight and all the frets are solid and show very little wear.  The Grover tuners are in perfect condition, as is the adjustable tailpiece and all the other hardware.  All binding is intact with no separation.  The stainless body pieces are original and in fabulous condition.  The wood body shows a little crazing of the finish and surface scratches, but otherwise it is in excellent condition.  Geez, I hope I'm in as good shape when I'm 91 years old.

If you like pickin' and grinnin', it's going on eBay for auction.

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