1890s Haynes-made Bay State 5-String Banjo

Boston was certainly a center for high-quality instruments back in the late 1800s and through the 1930s. Haynes made for other makes but is mostly known for Bay State instruments (which are well received) and this banjo is one of them. It's an "A-scale" banjo with a short 24" scale length and 10" rim. This would've been called a "ladies' banjo" when it was built but suits tuning-up to A very well, these days. It was made for gut so I've strung it with nylon to keep the tension in the right zone.

This is another nice customer's banjo and it was in for a new skin head, bridge, fret level/dress, tuner replacement/sprucing-up, and general setup. It's missing a lot of its hooks, as you can see, but I have a set of 30 replacement ones for it on order... so when it goes home it will be "full-up."

This was obviously an upmarket banjo when it was made -- it has 30 shoes, heavy-duty nickel-plated brass hardware, a nice heavy brass hoop enclosed in the nickel-plated cladding on the top of the rim (thus making an "integral" tonering), mahogany in the neck and rim, and a thick slab of ebony for the fretboard and headstock veneer.

Add a bunch of pretty pearl inlay, and there you go!

I also replaced a damaged nut with an ebony one. The tuners are all new except for the 5th peg, though they all have newer buttons. I repurposed uke friction pegs on this one.

The neck angle was so good right off the bat that I managed to get a nice, tall, 5/8" bridge on it.

It'll be nice to get the new hooks in to replace all the missing ones, but the old brass hooks are nice, too, even though they're all a hodgepodge set.

The ebony "backstrapping" coming down from the headstock is very well-done.

The neck brace is ingenious -- it's a typical "shim-style" unit, though it uses a metal wedge that tightens securely with a screw to maintain good tension on the rim. The regular "knock-in" shim braces drive me nuts as they tend to get loose in the mail when shipping instruments back to customers -- or with simple weather changes.


Nathan said…
What is the tune you are playing at the beginning of the clip for this little A-scaler? Sounds great, and similar to my L&H Mystic Ladies' model. I like the A rather than the G for my lower voice range as well...keep up the good work!
Jake Wildwood said…
Thanks, Nathan! Dunno RE the tune -- I'm just noodling. :)