1880s J.B. Schall 5-String Fretless Banjo

I'm not even sure what this old Schall banjo qualifies as. It has an extra-long 29" scale length and a giant, 12 1/2" rim. It could very well be an 1880s banjo (it has the stylisitic cues) but I'm not familiar enough with them to make a totally-certain judgment.

Schalls are rare birds in the market and this one is odd besides. I'm wondering if it was intended to be tuned lower than normal -- in the more minstrel-style keys of E or D rather than G. I've got a "normal" Aquila Nylgut set of strings on it at the moment and they're quite happy to be tuned all the way up to G despite the huge head and very long scale length. They felt way too floppy tuned-down to E or D, so it'll need thicker gauges if that will be the owner's intent.

Anyhow, this one was just in for a glorified setup but I also fit a set of period-ish Grover Champion friction pegs. This had wood pegs from the get-go and they just kept popping-out like crazy for the owner. Fortunately, I had this old-style Champion set hanging around and that allows us to "get away" with better technology without a sacrifice in the looks department.

Repairs included: neck angle reset/adjustment, replacement bridge, new strings, cleaning, replacement tuners, and setup.

Made by: J.B. Schall

Made in: Chicago, IL, USA

Rim wood: unknown

Tonering: integral hoop ring

Bridge: ebony/maple quite short

Fingerboard: ebony

Neck wood: unknown

Tone: warm, full, loud. boomy

Action height at 12th "fret" position: 3/32” overall
String gauges: Aquila Nylgut mediums, plain D

Neck shape: medium-big C/soft V

Board radius: flat

Neck relief: straight

Scale length: 29"

Nut width: 2"

String spacing at nut: 1 1/4"

Head diameter: 12 1/2"

Depth overall at rim: 2 1/4"

Weight: 5 lb 7 oz


Reese said…
It qualifies as lovely.