Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Elderly Instruments

This coming Wednesday I have to go to Michigan Weights and Measures to re-certify for calibrating propane meters. It just happens to be in Williamston which is just east of Lansing which is home of Elderly Instruments. It’s a four hour drive to take a thirty minute test. To make the most of my trip, I think I might just spend most of my day at Elderly. And, they’re having a 10% off sale on your entire order. Some things of course are excluded from this.

I for sure will buy a set of the Tony Rice Monels (or two). With the 10% off, they would only be $6.00 a set.

If anyone wants me to check out any instruments for you while I’m there, let me know and I’ll report back to you. I can’t play fiddle or banjo, but I can at least look at them.

I better get started on my grocery list. Too bad they don’t carry Elliott capos, I’d like to have one. With 10% off, that would help a little on the high cost.


I saw an alternative to Elliots that are quite a bit cheaper. It was a guy who does business from facebook. Barry Sheridan Collins is his FB name. I haven’t personally tried one, but they may be worth a try.

Have fun at Elderly! They have a player grade 1943 D18 that has been refinished and such. They say it still has the pre-war tone. It’s reference number (sku) is 10U-6553. If you get a chance to play it, I’d be curious if it’s really got a killer tone for it’s relatively modest price.

J.W. I’d sure like to be in your shoes. I’d love to spend a day at Elderly but thats a looong way from south Arkansas. Got it on my bucket list though!

I’d like to make it there some day, too. One of the snowbirds at my jam is from Michigan and he loves that place.

Back in the day when one of our buddies would go to the gulf on vacation we’d always get him to take a pic of the best looking beach babe he saw. (like I said, back in the day) Maybe we could get J.W. to take a few pics of the best sounding guitars he’s lucky enough to play.

So you’ve switched from pictures of young women to pictures of old guitars. It’s rough getting old, isn’t it! :smiley:

Yeah it is but fortunately I’ve gained a little wisdom with age!

Larry, who is your jam buddy form MI?

JW, wish I had read this earlier, I’d have met you there. I’m about an hour away and have a DR. apt at 2pm

Sorry for not responding since I started this post, but I’ve been out of town working.

Mike I will definitely check out the '43 D-18, for you and myself. Although it sounds like they may have wrecked the neck by cutting it down, but we’ll see.

It’s a neat place to go. I’ve been there 5 or 6 times and always have a great visit. All day seems like a lunch break there except you’re too busy to even stop and eat… literally. The good part is the same as the bad part. All the instruments (other than the extremely high dollar vintage ones) are displayed out in the open where you’re free to roam around and grab whatever you like. About five years ago I played a Huss and Dalton TDR brazilian with a slotted headstock (square shoulder 14 fret which is rare). At that time it was around $5600.00 and I would have bought it on the spot if I had the money. It was right out in the open where any kid (or an irresponsible adult even) could pick it up, drop it, knock it against other guitars an so on, which is the bad. So if you’re going there to buy, look it over closely. On the other hand it’s a blast to just go there and play as many instruments as you can. And they have plenty! They have it all covered well, acoustic and electric, a ton of accessories and a great book and music section. The repair dept is very good too. Joe Konkoly did a neck reset on my Gallagher when I had it and did a superb job.

I’ve found that’s (like Gruhn’s) it’s best to get there as soon as they open because it starts getting more crowded towards the afternoon hours.

If you get a chance, Fiddlewood, I’d love to meet you there. I could give you my cell number in a PM if you think you can make it. I’m not sure when my testing will be over, and I probably won’t stay as long as usual, because I have to be in Reynoldsburg ,OH (west of Columbus the next morning). If we can’t work it out this trip, I’m sure I’ll be back and will try to let you know sooner.

I’ll keep my eyes open for anyone scantily clad who happens to wander in looking for white sand. :astonished:


I’ve had a chance to pick with several people from your neck of the woods, fiddlewood, some of whom will even admit to knowing you. :laughing:

Off the top of my head I can recall Warren & Millie Curtis, Ben Crowfoot, and Tia Brown. There are probably more but I’ve been known to indulge in a few adult beverages while playing, so names don’t always stick with me. Warren is the Elderly fan I mentioned earlier.

haha, yes I’ve known them all for years. Ben just got back home today and he is playing Bass in the band I’m starting with. :laughing:

Tia is a great person. So was her husband (Larry); he rode down to Rocky Hill, KY with me and helped me pick out my first banjo at Arthur Hatfield’s place. Tia’s band will be using my house for their practices, as I live in the middle of where they all do.

Warren and Millie are the regulars at my local jam. I’ve only had a chance to pick with Ben and Tia when they were visiting Warren. They all seem like good people.

yep,Ben was telling me today that warren stayed at a campground own there and he was just visiting.

Well, I’m back from Michigan. No offense fiddlewood, but there are some crazy drivers in your state.

Had a good time, passed my recertification, which took two hours, not the half hour I thought it would be. Then off to Lansing for the good part.

I found the '43 D-18 you asked me about Mike and it was actually better than I thought. I also found a used D-18 Golden Era that I spent alot of time comparing it to. The neck on the '43 isn’t as narrow and shaved down as much as I was expecting, but still too small for my liking. Going back and forth between the two is a considerable contrast and makes the GE feel huge. It’s kinda hard to go back and forth, so I’m not sure how you would like it either. The bridge has been replaced with one with a drop in saddle which is a bummer and the top, back and sides have been refinished with a satin finish (no shine whatsoever). I suppose that’s better than a new high gloss look. It definitely looks vintage and for the price could easily be tolerated. As far as sound goes, it’s one of the biggest, bassy sounding guitars I’ve heard, but is a little too heavy on the bottom end, compared to the highs and mids. It’s a great sounding guitar and would be perfect for bluegrass rythym songs with alot of low bass runs. It sounds good up the neck too, but shines on the bass side. The GE was also very strong on the bass, but more balanced. The GE was actually the best sounding guitar I played in the store to me. I played a Bourgeois Georgia dreadnought that was great, a Santa Cruz Tony Rice, a Santa Cruz mahogany pre-war style, which was good (played great), but not as strong as the GE, a couple Huss and Daltons, a Martin D-28V, three or four different Collings and a '67 D-35 which was… ehhhh, ok. I also brought my Collings for comparisons and can honestly say, I’m quite content keeping it. Hope that doesn’t sound like I’m bragging, but I really am happy with the sound of it and playability. The one guitar that stood out the most was the D-18 Golden Era and the '43 was very pleasing too except for the neck and that’s hard to admit, because I’m not much of a Martin guy :blush:

I’d really like to have a Mahogany guitar and keep my Collings as well. Someday hopefully. I really like the Adirondack with Mahogany. This one was $2400.00 used and there’s one on Mandolin Cafe for $2000.00 which is a great deal if it’s in good condition.

So I bought a set a TR monels a set of D’Addario EXP17’s (I’ve never tried these, I always use EJ 17’s. I don’t care for Elixers, so I thought I’d try these) and two V-Picks. I spent a whole 25.00 besides lunch and the company paid for the gas. Not bad for a day’s work. :wink:

Oh yeah, I played a Lowden O-25 too… again, ehhhh, ok. I also played a Recording KIng for the first time. Very, very nice and would highly recommend for a lesser money guitar. I’d say right up there with Blueridge and Easton.

Sorry guys, no beach babe pictures this trip, but I’ll be back!


Doesn’t surprise me a bit that you were drawn to that D-18GE. Every one of them I’ve played have been great. I’d probably own one if it weren’t for the big neck. I’ve also seen the Georgia Dreadnought on Elderly’s website. Again, 1 3/4" nut. Not sure about the neck shape. Do you remember how the neck felt compared to the GE or maybe a Collings with a VN neck? Thanks for that great report by the way, enjoyed reading it.

Thanks JW! I appreciate you checking out the '43. I guess my gut feeling is that if it didn’t sound better than the GE, then why would I want to go there… it certainly seems interesting though. I don’t think I’d probably be too crazy about the neck, but if the tone was right, I’d be willing to try to adapt. Thanks again. If you told me it was “the one” with killer tone, you might have cost me some money :slight_smile:

Looks like you played a ton of neat guitars. It’s always good when your guitar is reaffirmed by a trip to a high end store. That’s a very good thing :smiley: I like your Collings and I think it sounds absolutely great on the stuff you’ve recorded. It’s good to know it’s still the one you would have walked out with.

I will keep my eyes peeled for a GE for you. A few days ago I saw the listing below. $1800 for a Kimseyfied Sunburst D18GE… that’s a crazy good deal. If I knew you were even marginally interested I would have called you on that one. It looks like a sale is pending, but who knows, maybe it will fall through. Generally to buy a 'burst used is $2200 to $2400 and then the Kimsey mods will run about $300 to $400 (and I had some extra things done while he had it).
theunofficialmartinguitarforum.y … 0YN7ahdVBk


the neck on the Georgia dreadnought is very comfortable. It doesn’t feel nearly as big as the D-18 GE. I don’t know how the factories spec their dimensions but the Geoegia feels alot like my Collings which is 1 23/32" (not the V or VN). My string spacing is wider at the nut than most I’ve seen which puts the strings closer to the fretboard edges and that’s what I prefer. It gives you more room without having to have too wide of a neck. As long as you can get used to not pulling the high E over the edge. :confused: Martin 1 3/4" necks to me seem bigger than everyone else’s and I think it’s because they using true measurements. Like I said, my Collings is 1 23/32" according to the build sheet I got from the factory, but when I measure, it’s a shade over 1 11/16" but not at 1 23/32". I played some 1 3/4" Collings V and VN necks at Smokey Mountain Guitars when I bought (traded) mine and none of those felt as big as the Golden Era’s. As a matter of fact, I thought the differences were very minute and all of the Collings were comfortable except for a couple 1 11/16" standard necks which were too small.

Going back and forth between different necks back at Elderly did seem to make the GE’s neck feel chunky, but I think if I were playing that exclusively, it would be comfortable. So what I’m saying is: The Bourgeois was a great guitar and very comfortable and didn’t feel as big as the GE. It was one of the guitars that stood out the most and sounded great! I wouldn’t get too caught up in the factories’ neck measurements, because I don’t think they’re all correct or maybe they’re rounding off, not sure.

Mike, I don’t want to discourage you from buying a great vintage guitar, it really did sound great and may be a good deal. Most are going for twice that amount. They say the neck was cut down, but I couldn’t tell that. It looks factory, but it is considerably smaller than your GE. The bridge and the satin finish bothered me the most. (I like originality). And sound for sound, I was comparing a $2400.00 guitar that sounds as good if not better than a $6500.00 guitar. It would depend on how bad someone simply wanted a vintage guitar. It may or may not be a good investment, but it certainly would make a great player.

These are all just my own opions and you guys may have thought differently, so I hope I don’t steer anyone the wrong way.

Thanks for keeping an eye open for a Golden Era, I’m not quite ready to buy one, but it’s fun to look.

Fiddlewood, I’ll try to let you know ahead of time when I come up that way again, maybe we could meet there on the next trip.


This thread is making me want a new guitar. I need to stop reading now.