Creek Don't Rise

E. Messenger 6-String Banjo?
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Author:  paulrace [ Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:50 am ]
Post subject:  E. Messenger 6-String Banjo?

A writer in Muskegon, MI, writes:

Hi Paul, I recently came into possession of a 6-string banjo. I am not a player and not a collector but I am trying to identify this particular banjo and a reasonable General value of it also. On the neck at the top is the name e. Messenger.

In my e-mailed reply, I wrote:

if you can reply to this memo and send me a photo of the head and the front of the body, I can give you some idea. Chances are it is made in the same factory that makes Savannah, Johnson, Rogue, and a dozen other budget instruments, but even those have two quality lines and I may be able to tell you more if I see the photo.

- Paul

Author:  paulrace [ Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: E. Messenger 6-String Banjo?

The reader supplied these photos.

IMG_20171123_123406841.jpg [ 63.38 KiB | Viewed 22233 times ]

IMG_20171123_123411289.jpg [ 41.66 KiB | Viewed 22233 times ]

IMG_20171123_123422597.jpg [ 59.12 KiB | Viewed 22233 times ]

IMG_20171123_123427335.jpg [ 65.58 KiB | Viewed 22233 times ]

Author:  paulrace [ Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: E. Messenger 6-String Banjo?

My response to the photos:

Max, it's NOT a zither banjo. It's a true six-string banjo most likely made in North America. Very few were made. Most of them were used for jazz, like four-string "tenor" banjos. Though six-string banjos were made as early as the 1880s (pre-jazz) yours looks like it's from the "Jazz age," probably 1920-930. The Art Deco headstock would place it after 1925. But all of this is supposition. Here's a question - is the "pot" - the shell part of the body, the part you see after the resonator comes off, wood or metal?

It's also possible that the neck was a custom retrofit to a 4 string banjo. Does the little niche where resonator goes around the neck have the original finish, or might it have been widened to accommodate a wider neck at some point?

A few 6-string banjos were use for jazz in Europe so I won't swear it was made in North America, but if the pot is metal, that increases the chance that it was. Back when banjo was to Jazz as Electric guitar was to Rock and Roll, a lot of banjos were made with metal pots to hold down the cost.

I know, nothing specific. Just a general guideline.

Chances are it's not a collector's item per se, and most people interested in 6-string banjo will want a modern instrument. Unless you find a buyer specifically interested in this kind of things, you aren't exactly going to recoup a fortune.


Author:  paulrace [ Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: E. Messenger 6-String Banjo?

The reader replied:

Paul your knowledge is amazing! The pot is made of wood and it appears that there was no enlargement of the area around the neck because it appears to have the original finish on it. If I were to sell this what would be a reasonable retail asking price? Thanks again for all your input I really appreciate it Max

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