A strange banjo came into the shop where I work recently, and we need help identifying it. We're guessing its from sometime in the 1920's, but there aren't any markings of any sort on it. I can post more photos if necessary. Thanks!

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Stromberg-Voisinet  (Kay) late 20s, I'd say.  An oldie but a goodie but a cheapie. . .

A cheapie, you say? What would you estimate retail value to be? The woman who brought it in plans on selling it on consignment, and I think she may have unrealistic expectations as to what it'll sell for...

Some folks confuse Stromberg-Voisinet with STROMBERG, the maker of some high-end professional banjos.  The latter can command high prices indeed; there is no relationship between the two.

If memory serves me right Stromberg Voisinet made one of, if not the, first commercial electric guitar.

I almost forgot, there are no markings on the banjo except for on the tuners. One of the original tuners has been replaced, but the other three are Grovers. Here's a pic.

My guess is a Slingerland, because of the celluloid body material. However ,Slingerland was always proud of their

name and had it stamped every where....!!

The Grovers ,would to me, signify a quality instrument, at any rate.

I have a Slingerland guitar, they made them under the May Bell label. Its a little battered but plays like a dream.

In the 1890's "The Groeschel Mandolin Company" was founded. Otherwise known as "The Groeshl Instrument Company".  

It then became "Stromberg-Voisinet", which for sure made the first commercial Electric Guitar  "The Stromberg Electro", (complete with vibration transmission rod in the pickup), but it still couldn't compete with a Banjo for volume, despite this.

They also made Electronically Amplified Banjo's (could have been an early form of brain stunning sound wave weapon designed for the Pentagon had it then existed) and Mandolins. But by 1931 the newly bought out Company became" Kay Musical Instruments".  

The Banjo in question was thus made smack in the middle of the Art Deco Period, and the visually striking look, is simply a reflection of that distinctive fashion. If you think about this a while, it will become obvious.

But that's the reason for the look. Perhaps it would appeal to a collector of Art Deco if restored well.

Absolutely a Stromberg-Voisinet, no question!





Good & interesting historical info. Thank you :)


Cool Banjo.  I see you need some checker binding. I saved this link a while back???

Very handy link. Thanks Tom.


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