S.S. Stewart Special Thoroughbred (1895)
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SpecificationsScale Length: 26.38"
Nut Width: 1.25"
Neck Wood: Cherry
Fretboard Wood: Ebony
Peghead Overlay: Ebony
Peghead Inlay: Thoroughbred inlay pattern in mother-of-pearl
Fret Markers: None
Nut Material: Bone
Tuners: Five-star nickel-plated planetary tuners with white buttons (non-original fifth string tuner)
Rim Size: 11"
Rim Wood: Bird's-eye maple
Tailpiece: Original nickel-plated
Case: Non-original chipboard
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SS Stewart is one of the best-regarded names in the world of old-time banjo, so taking this 1895 Special Thoroughbred on consignment was a no-brainer for us when it made its way through our door. Yes, you read that date right: this astounding little open-back is well over 100 years old, making it one of the earliest instruments we've ever had throughout the history of our store. The nickel-plated tone ring blends nicely with a cherry neck and maple pot for a very bright, clear sound, and it's only amplified by the spunover steel rim which adds volume and punch to this spunky little five-string. As the banjo was being marketed towards upper-class audiences at this time, the Special Thoroughbred also features some lovely inlay work, and while the headstock overlay and the fingerboard are not original, the inlays appear to have been salvaged, rather than reproduced. Some very ornate engraving at the neck heel adds to the visual appeal as well. All told, it's one of of our new (old) favorites and we think it'll be one of yours, too.
This banjo's condition is remarkable for one now nearing 150 years of age, with fairly modest playing wear on the neck and pot. Most hardware is original, including the tailpiece, brackets, and the tuners at the headstock; the fifth string tuner is non-original, and as mentioned above, the fingerboard and headstock overlay are non-original as well. Best of all, it's a player, with a terrific, low set up. We consider it to be in excellent condition, considering its age. The banjo has long since parted with its original case and is now paired with a chipboard case which looks to likely be from the 1960s or 1970s.