Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Question on value of a Banjo

I was offered a A.E Smith Banjo at what I think is a vary good price but am unsure as I do not know where to look up values and do not know anything about Banjo’s, can anyone tell what the value of a A.E Smith Banjo would be ???, it is in vary good condition was stuck in a case in a closet for the past 15 years the price I was given was $180 is that a fair price ??? and would I be cheating the person only paying that much for it ???

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Hi Don
I don’t know anything about valuations of musical instruments or whether or not an instrument is a fake or not. it’s really down to what an individual wants to pay. $180 is not a lot of cash to lay out for a banjo. Check out the link below

https://www.banjobuyer.com/banjo/65511

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@Archie Thank you for the info I am really unsure of the Authenticity of the owners claim on this particular Banjo, the things I do remember when I looked at it says it is and the owners statement to me says it is an A.E Smith for instance the catalog says they used wooden dowel rods the one I looked at had a metal Dowel rod which from what I read in the A.E Smith catalog says they did use a metal dowel rod but only in the later years after someone by the name of Kate left the company the one I looked at also had a Maple leaf inlay between the tuning machines on the head stock which A.E Smith also did I do not know if it is an actual A.E Smith Banjo or not but it was pretty clean and nice looking which does not always translate to being good

The statements the person made to me was it was their fathers whom had passed away a few years back he had not played it in years it had been in the case and stored in a closet for the past 10-15 years I know when I looked at it it was really clean and did not show a lot of wear on anything
it did have a few scratches that indicated it had been played some just not sure how much
I think for $180 it might just be worth taking a chance it may turn out to be a hidden gem or rare find or it could be a knock of from china just not sure, so I think I will go ahead and get it

Will keep you posted after I get it

Thank you for your input

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Hey Don,

Can you physically see and play this banjo or is it far away where it would have to be shipped? There’s really nothing to compare them to (there’s none on E-Bay, Reverb or G-Base). These would probably be the most likely places to find about any instrument.

Since there’s nothing out there to get a guide line on a price, it would be best if you could actually see it and try it out. Then, if it’s something you’d think you would like, go ahead and buy it. Just make sure it’s playable and is indeed something you would like because you may be stuck with it! I have no idea if these are desirable or not (never heard of them). $180.00 doesn’t seem like much, but if it needs a bunch of work… well that can get expensive!

I was once given on old Silvertone mandolin (great deal right) and then spent quite a bit getting cracks repaired, neck reset, fret work, new bridge and it still sounded lousy! Shortly thereafter the top cracked open again! I would have been much better off just buying an Eastman or something similar.

I’m not saying this will happen to you, just cautioning you. It may be a great banjo worth over $1000.00, who knows. Hopefully someone here on the forum might be more help. Archie’s already given you a good place to start.

Good luck and let us know what you decide!

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Hi Don It would have been helpful if you had photos to compare with the catalogue. Personally I would want to check it out before I parted with $180 it’s not a great deal of money but if the banjo is playable then I think it’s worth it.

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@Archie I went and picked it up it actually played and sounded pretty sweet it is an older Banjo I would say from mid to late 70s or early 80s which does put it in the time frame of A.E Smith I am not going to say it is an A.E Smith until I know absolutely for sure.
the weird part is there is no identifying numbers or name any where on it that I can find yet I have not taken the resonator pot off yet but will will keep you posted I did look at the photos in the catalog and the maple leaf does look quite similar to what A.E Smith put on theirs

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@jw11 I did go ahead and purchase it I still do not know if it is actually a A.E Smith Banjo There are no identifying marks or name anywhere at all, I did remove the resonator pot and still no identifier.

i will say from what I am finding out the A.E Smiths are quite desirable there was only 900 total ever made from sometime in the 70s to the early 80s there were a few that had a resonator pot on them but not many also after someone name Kate left the company i found out that some were sent out without any kind of identifying marks or name so here is hoping I found a hidden gem LOL,the maple leaf that is on it between the tuning machines is real similar to the ones I did see in the A.E Smith Catalog
I was able to get the person that had it to come down $30 because there are a lot of unknowns I purchased it because it actually was pretty nice looking and sounded pretty sweet so I figured for $150 it was not to bad of a deal either way I am happy and I will be even happier if it actually turns out to be an A.E Smith some times you just have to take chances which I did.

I will also say this Banjo is heavy as all get out

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Sounds like you may have bagged a bargain., Photo’s of the neck and inside the pot should help identify the maker. Post them here and on the Banjo Hangout where there is likely to be more expert knowledge. You say it looks and sounds good and you managed to knock off a few bucks well I think you did well even if you can’t prove it’s origin it’s still a winner.

Did it come with a case ?

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@Archie it did come with a case,as for photos I took some with my phone and then emailed them to myself and saved them to a JPEG file I tried to upload them onto this post and it keeps telling me they are to large so I have to figure out how to resize them so they will attach to here i will eventually figure it out

As for Banjo hangout I also tried to post the photos there and for some reason it locked me out of my account and would not even let me post anything until I went and deleted the attachments so I have to figure that one out also not having a good time with my PC LOL it is one of those times I want to slam it against the floor LOL

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Hi Don

If you search Google you’ll find online software to reduce the size of your photo’s.

Here is an example https://compressjpeg.com/

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@Archie found this interesting this one in this link is real close to the one I purchased except for a few things are different mine just has a Maple leaf between the tuning machine also the inlay up the neck are identical also mine has a clear skin that you can see through and the one I purchased is a lot cleaner than the one in the add. the tail piece is a little different also

still cannot seem to get my photos sized correctly I am really starting to wander now

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Hi Don, That looks like a well played banjo. Lots of belt buckle scratches on the resonator. The name logo looks like Letroset . I would say the number stamp could suggest a serial number compare with the photos in the catalogue

Ok if your photo is still too big, go back to the original and scale it down by 50% if it’s still to big again go back to the original and scale it down by 75% and so on.

If your case is original there may be some way to inicate the origin.

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@Archie I keep trying To get them in posted I have down sized them resized them and downsized them again and they just will not upload keeps telling me they are to large

that add I posted up just to say the one I purchased is real similar to that one in the add that head stock where the tuning machines are mounted is a little different on mine also mine looks more like a fiddle where my tuners are mounted
Have looked the one I purchased over several times and still have found no numbers,names or anything that would give me an indication as to who made it

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H Don I guess the original image must be pretty large or the compression tool isn’t working for you. You could always make a video, upload to you tube and post the link here and on the BHO.

Banjo%201%20(2)

@Archie finally figured it out more photos to come

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Ok so don’t reduce them quite so much

Banjo%201%20(2)

@Archie is that any better

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Hi Don, This photo of Earl is 550 x 440 pixels I think you could get an even larger photo to upload say 1000 x 2000 pixel

Ear%20Scruggs

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@Archie I think that’s as big as I can get them

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that’s much better

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