Bart Reiter Whyte Laydie 5 String Banjo (1986)

Bart Reiter  Whyte Laydie 5 String Banjo  (1986)
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Item # 11944
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Bart Reiter Whyte Laydie Model 5 String Banjo (1986), made in Lansing, Michigan, serial # 83, natural lacquer finish, laminated maple rim and neck, ebony fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

This is a very early and very fine example of the work of Bart Reiter, by most accounts the most respected of all modern/old-time banjo makers. It is built along classic lines, in this case closer to the Fairbanks/Vega original than even his own later versions of the same model. All Reiter instruments --even the earliest ones --are built to a consistently high standard. Bart Reiter recently retired after a long and very successful run as an independent banjo maker who never sold his name into big time production. We'd like to salute him for that, it is pretty rare in the modern industry. Every instrument made by him over the decades is a gem and we are always happy to get on in stock.

This Whyte Laydie model is an early Reiter instrument, serial # 83 indicating it was made in 1986 when his total production was all of 65 instruments. It is a close re-creation of a 1910/20s Fairbanks/Vega Whyte Laydie, built to the traditional specs. The rim is heavy maple fitted with the classic electric/Whyte Laydie scalloped tone ring; it also has the same bracket band as the originals, a feature Reiter later dropped. The name plate on the dowel has the older "Bart Reiter, maker" script logo.

The medium 26" scale neck is laminated maple; the heavy ebony fingerboard features two engraved shaped pearl inlays with a balance of engraved dots. The headstock is faced in ebony with the traditional "Gryphon" engraved pearl inlay. The tuners are modern geared planets, including the 5th string. The finish on the neck and rim is natural maple, the "Whyte" part of the equation. Cosmetically and sonically this is a truly excellent instrument, very neatly built with the classic Vega "old time" sound. We think it sounds great with a powerful yet sweet tone and plays perfectly. This is another fine example of Bart Reiter's truly superb instruments, showing he had it right even in the early stages of his career.
 
Overall length is 36 1/2 in. (92.7 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) diameter head, and 2 7/8 in. (7.3 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 26 in. (660 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/4 in. (32 mm.).

This now almost 40-year-old banjo shows only fairly light wear; it does not appear to have been heavily played over the decades. The only real signs of age are some tarnish to the plating (most heavily on the armrest) and a few minor dings, and scuffs overall. The lacquer on the headstock inlay has flaked somewhat. There are no alterations to the instrument except railroad spikes at frets 7 and 9 that were possibly added; or may have been stock. All else on the banjo appears original, even the original frets have only very light wear. It is set up with a Fiberskyn II head and a Snuffy Smith bridge. This is a really excellent playing and sounding very classy old-tyme banjo, practically "vintage" itself by now and a superb, lovely early example of Reiter's consistently excellent work. Overall Excellent Condition.