Fairbanks Whyte Laydie # 7 5 String Banjo (1907)

Fairbanks  Whyte Laydie # 7 5 String Banjo  (1907)
$10,000.00 + shipping
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Item # 11984
Prices subject to change without notice.
Fairbanks Whyte Laydie # 7 Model 5 String Banjo (1907), made in Boston, Mass., serial # 24019, natural varnish finish, laminated maple rim and neck, ebony fingerboard, period black hard shell case.

This is a splendid original example of one of the most desired of all openback 5-strings: the early Fairbanks Whyte Laydie #7. With its large (almost 12" diameter) rim and long 28" scale this instrument produces a sound that few other banjos, new or old, can match. It is also a feast for the eyes as well as the ears! The #7 is an exceptionally beautiful banjo, with the elaborate early Consalvi-style hand-engraved pearl inlay on the peghead and fingerboard including the famous "gryphon" design on the headstock rear. The heel is elaborately carved in a floral pattern with a pearl-inlaid ebony heelcap.

The rim is equipped with Fairbanks' patented bracket band with the shoes are mounted to that, not drilled through the rim. The rim is fitted with the "Electric" tone ring that was the finest of its time (this banjo pre-dates the Tu-Ba-Phone by several years) and still a standard today. It is capped with tortoise celluloid on both edges and has elaborate herringbone marquetry along the bottom.

The Whyte Laydie model was largely the brainchild of David Day, chief engineer at Fairbanks and arguably the single most important if unsung banjo designer of all time. His technical and aesthetic innovations have been widely copied for many decades, yet few banjo players even know his name. 100+ years on the Whyte Laydie #7 remains a testament to his dedication to the banjo and a tribute to the original Fairbanks/Vega crew that built it. This is one vintage instrument that instantly justifies its stellar reputation as one of the finest of "old school" banjos ever made.
Overall length is 37 1/4 in. (94.6 cm.), 11 13/16 in. (30 cm.) diameter head, and 2 9/16 in. (6.5 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 28 in. (711 mm.). Width of nut is 1 in. (25 mm.).

This 115+ year old banjo remains in splendid mostly original condition showing average wear and some light repair, but is very fine for its age and far less re-worked than many. There is a filled hole for a resonator mounting pin under the "Fairbanks" nameplate on the dowel stick, that is the only really notable repair work. The original thin varnish finish on the neck shows some wear down to the wood in the lower positions, there is light wear to the rim as well. A small piece of binding has been replaced on the bass side of the neck near the rim. The frets appear original with some light wear, and the fretboard has some light divoting in the first position and some small chipping evident.

The hardware is mostly original and correct; just under half of the original and superbly elegant cobra hooks probably broke eons ago and were replaced with slightly later period Fairbanks/Vega hooks. The plating is relatively well preserved overall with the most loss on the wire armrest. The tailpiece is a period No-Knot and the hoop has been lightly notched where it is mounted. The original pearl-button friction pegs are fully intact and functioning, although as always must be handled with care. The banjo is set up with an old Rogers genuine calf skin head and newer bridge, making for an excellent player with the warm and rich traditional sound these are renowned for. The banjo rests in a nice period HSC, which appears to be of just slightly later vintage than the instrument itself. Overall Excellent - Condition.