Fairbanks Banjos
Construction & Tone Rings


Herewith begins an exposition of the various models of 5-string banjo made by
A.C. Fairbanks in his various companies, and descriptions thereof.


A.C. Fairbanks - Maker (~1875 - 1880)

A.C. Fairbanks, Maker

Between approximately 1875 and 1880 A.C. Fairbanks made several hundred banjos.
The first were relatively simple, using inexpensive trade pots and hardware.
Two wood screws attached the neck to the rim.
As he progressed, the quality of the banjos markedly improved with interesting
and sophisticated hardware and marquetry decoration on the wooden rims.


From the start, Fairbanks incorporated unusual details into his banjos.  A prime identifying
characteristic of banjos continues to be the particular shape of the peghead.  Most of the
banjos made by Fairbanks in this early period had a "crown" shaped peghead.

Peghead from early Fairbanks

This is the peghead of an early Fairbanks banjo made before Fairbanks & Cole.

Peghead from later Fairbanks

This early Fairbanks banjo 
has a more complex peghead 
shape and beautiful 
marquetry on the pot.

Early F&C peghead

This is the peghead from an 
early Fairbanks & Cole banjo.

Some more early Fairbanks pegheads are shown here.

The rounded shape of the heel of the necks was similar to those of the other makers of the period.
The relief cut to provide space for the flesh hoop was unusually decorative as was his
treatment of the 5th string cut.

Early Fairbanks heel and heel cut

This is the heel from the beautifully stylized banjo 
show in Gura & Bollman (Plate 4-1).  Note the two 
-piece nuts and the beautiful heel cut.

This is the typical 5th 
string detail of the early 
Fairbanks banjo.

Some more early Fairbanks heels are shown here.


This banjo, mentioned in the 1978 Pickin' article, has the serial number 243 penned inside the rim and is possibly the earliest known Fairbanks banjo. 

Despite it's description as crude, it is, in fact, a delightful playing banjo with a good strong sound.

More pictures of early Fairbanks banjo No. 243 may be seen here.

Pictures of another early Fairbanks banjo, No. 340 are available here.


On to Fairbanks & Cole (1880 - 1890)

- Return to main Fairbanks Banjos page -

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