Fairbanks Banjos
Construction & Tone Rings


Fairbanks & Cole (1880 - 1890)

F&C Manufacturer's Stamp

In 1880 Fairbanks joined with W.A. Cole, a well known Boston banjo performer
and music teacher, to form the Fairbanks & Cole company.  While Cole was largely
involved in promotion of the company and its banjos, Fairbanks was primarily
responsible for the technical innovation.

- First few years -
No model designation.
The round heel became the "boat" shaped heel as shown on the neck below.
"Fairbanks & Cole Makers" stamp on the dowel stick.
Serial numbers were usually stamped inside the pot, hidden under the neck side of dowel stick.

Early F&C Peghead

Early F&C Peghead.
A further evolution of the
earlier "crown" shape?

F&C Heel

F&C "boat" heel shape

F&C Neck Clamp

"Bracket Shoe" style of neck brace.

Early F&C Hardware

Early F&C Hardware

Some more early F & C pegheads are shown here.

The F&C pots were either wooden pots as shown here, usually with decorative
marquetry and/or pearl inlay, or full spun pots with the wooden hoop clad on the
outside with a thin metal sheath.  A thin metal hoop was placed on the top and bottom
of the wooden hoop before the metal shell was spun over it, creating a crude
form of tone ring.  The two wooden pots shown here actually have a 1/4" diameter
round brass hoop recessed into the upper outer edge, serving as a tone ring.

F&C Brass Tone Ring

1/4" Round brass tone ring showing through the transluscent skin on this wooden pot.

A compendium of early F&C tone rings is given here.


- Mid to late 1880's -
The names of the higher grade models
Imperial, Expert and Clipper
were also stamped on the dowel stick.
For more
on Clipper
banjos click
on this picture.

Later F&C Peghead

Later F&C Peghead

Later F&C Hardware

Later F&C Hardware - Note the typical recessed Flesh Hoop

Fairbanks & Cole
This is the 1885 Fairbanks and Cole shown above.

The inlays are fairly crude saw-cut mother of pearl arranged in interesting patterns.  Some of these F&C banjos have considerable amounts of such inlays covering much of the peghead, fingerboard and pot.

Some F&C banjos also had rudimentary carving on the heel.  The later higher grade Fairbanks banjos had quite varied and beautiful heel carving.


- In 1889 catalog -

   Class A
offered in 9 grades from $10 No. 40 to $30 No. 600





fancy gold plated Expert listed for $90.


On to A.C. Fairbanks & Co. (1890-1895)

- Return to main Fairbanks Banjos page -

Please contact me with any additions, corrections or comments in general.