c. 1890s Fretless 5-string open back banjo

Nice late 19th century fretless 5 string banjo with open back. There's no maker's mark on the banjo that I can find but it is well made and in good condition. It bears resemblance to banjos made by J. French, a Cleveland OH maker of the last quarter of the 19th century. The headstock shape and the metal fret board inlays are identical to some of the instruments that are attributed to French and featured on a site highlighting his instruments ( This banjo may have been made by J French, but it is impossible to be certain. Some of the parts are replaced (tuners, the little wedge/screw thing that fits over the dowel stick and bears against the rim, the tail piece), The neck is inlaid with pearl dots and metal 6-point stars. The rim has 24 hooks/brackets and a natural skin head. The rim measures 11" across and the scale is 27 3/4". Finish on the rim appears to be original, the neck finish I can't say for sure. Initially my impression was that it is original but someone who knows banjos better than I do suggested that perhaps the neck has been refinished. The banjo is currently strung with metal strings and sounds very good but could probably be strung and played with nylon/gut strings successfully. The neck is very straight under tension and the action quite comfortable. If there's something you need to know that I've missed please ask questions. Comes with a nylon padded gig bag. VFS #15859 $1200

Kovacik Guitars and Fretted Instrument Repair

Kovacik Guitars and Fretted Instrument Repair

Unknown, possibly J French
19 Years
Kovacik Guitars and Fretted Instrument Repair
Steven Kovacik
Scotia, NY
9:12 PM
By appointment

Money order, personal check (must clear before item ships), cashier check, wire transfer, Paypal.

I generally ship by UPS and will ship an item within 48 hours (usually the next day) of having received or cleared payment. Exact shipping costs will be added to the total for the buyer once the buyer has provided a shipping address. I insure everything for fulll purchase price.

Items are sold with a 48 hour approval period unless clearly marked "AS IS" in the listing. AS IS items are not returnable. If an item is going to be returned it is at the buyer's expense and the item must be shipped within 24 hours of the buyer notifying Kovacik Guitars of intent to return. Any returned items must be shipped in the original packaging and MUST be fully insured when returned. Once an item is returned to Kovacik Guitars and judged to be in the same condition as when originally sold a full refund will be issued.