Fairbanks (used, 1895) Curtis Electric

Tag No 78-7578 Used

#14511, with a newer hard shell case to be provided.

The Fairbanks “Curtis Electric” model banjo is very beautiful and exceptionally rare - in our 44 years in business we have not found or offered any others. It is so legendary that Mike Ramsey of Chanterelle Banjos has named one of his own outstanding new banjos “Curtis Fairbanks” to commemorate it. For more information about Fairbanks banjos and their history, we have turned to a website called home.comcast.net/~fairbankspages. This section on Background has been paraphrased from an article called “Fairbanks Banjos: Construction and Tone Rings.” In the year 1890, Messrs. Albert Conant Fairbanks and William A. Cole ended their partnership, each starting his own company – yet on many instruments A.C. continued to stamp them “Fairbanks & Cole” much to the chagrin of Mr. W. A. Cole. That same year Fairbanks debuted his new “Electric” model, which differed from the banjos of their main competitor, S. S. Stewart by having a new tone ring (Pat’d Dec. 30, 1890). The “Electric” tone ring (named after the chief consumer item of the time -- if you could afford it -- electricity in the home and office (and for streetlamps). This new beguiling brass bulwark of banjo-playing brawn added sustain and brilliance to the tone of the instrument and, to this day, is a highly respected and often imitated method of construction. The fabled Electric tone ring is made in the form of a scalloped metal truss which resides at the top of the wooden pot and abuts a round metal ring. In early versions the metal assembly is contained in a slim metal sheath which is then spun over the outside of the rim. And then there is perhaps the least often seen variation in the Electric Series -- the “Curtis Electric,” named for A. C. Fairbanks' son of the same name, who is said to have been a banjo prodigy. The Curtis Electric model’s tone ring consisted of a square brass ring that sets above the wooden hoop. Fifteen brass rods extend from the brass ring to the spun-over round metal hoop, just as in the regular Electric. Just so you know, the A C Fairbanks models introduced during this early period were: Electric in 1890; Curtis Electric in late 1890; the Imperial Electric in 1891; the Columbian in 1891; the Senator arrived in 1892; the Special was first seen in 1894; and the Regent in 1895. Another factoid is that the non-Electric versions of these models were actually quite similar, differing only in their level of ornamentation.

Let’s talk about ornamentation: This banjo has a simple scalloped headstock shape (5 symmetrical scallops) with a stained pearwood headplate veneer that proffers one large five-pointed star. The 18 fret fingerboard is decorated with a vertical oval at fret 3, star at 5, diamond at 7, double dot at 9, a single dot with etched and engraved leaves or fans on each side at the 12th, then a horizontal oval at the 17th and a three part symmetrical inlay below the 18th. The head is the original vellum, still clean and off-white after all these years. The tailpiece (utterly gorgeous) is a simple ivoroid harp with five holes, and the gut strings wrap around the crosspiece. At the bottom where the bracket holds it to the rim, it is stamped “ Pat. 1886 Sept. 21, F&C.” Tuners are five matching grained ivoroid friction pegs; the back of the neck, internal wood square dowel and inside of the metal clad rim are mahogany. There are 30 brackets – all present and accounted for, a pearl wood heel cap bordered, like the thin fingerboard, in crème and black. On said dowel, under the metal threaded-screw tensioner, is the legend “Pat. Dec. 30, ’90.” On the bass side of the dowel is the serial number which is also stamped inside the rim, near the neck. On the back side of the dowel is stamped “A.C.Fairbanks & Co., Makers, Boston, Mass” and, farther down, “Curtis Electric.” There is some roughness on the heel cap, some scratches and hand-wear on the back of the neck (this player, like many, favored the first position). There is some erosion on the fretboard in the lowest positions; in our opinion at least one of the inlays is replaced. There’s a minor nick on the bass side of the fretboard at the third fret (you don’t feel it) but otherwise, it’s in exceptionally fine shape. The head diameter is nominally 11 ½”, the scale length is 26 ¼”, the nut width is 1 ¼” and the last fret measures 1 7/8”. Although there is some light oxidation on some of the brackets, the metal-clad rim and stretcher band are clean and shiny. Old time banjo collectors and players come hither! While the sound is a little quiet, it is also exceedingly sweet and lyrical. We are charmed by it. This fine banjo can be the keystone of any collection, and, as well, the connection between you and your grand- or great grandfather.

Our Discount Price is $2,099.00 and Our Cash Discount Price is.

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