A few of the many (Man with the Banjo’s) musical instruments
that are now on display at the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota.
This was a banjo my father assembled for me. It was essentially a Vox IV manufactured by the Vega Company circa late 1950s. All metal hardware and fasteners on this instrument, inside and out, are gold plated. The resonator, covering the back of the instrument, was likely manufactured in the early 1930s and is engraved with the “Peabody” coat of arms. A beautiful piece of artwork and a testimony to the craftsmanship of the day.
This is a mandocello, sometimes referred to as a mandoloncello. It was manufactured by the Vega Company in the early 1920s. There are four pairs of monotone strings that are tuned like a violin: in fifths. This instrument was used in Vaudeville performances in the 1920s and in a 1927–28 film short with protégé at the time, Jimmy Maisel.
These are photos of the acoustical prototypes of the instrument my father called the banjoline. He wanted to create an instrument made of wood that replicated the sound of a banjo with a violin mute placed on the banjo’s bridge. There are six strings—octave fourth, monotone third, single first and second. During a Vaudeville performance it was more expeditious to have someone handing him various stringed instruments. This was the beginning of the evolution of the Eddie Peabody model banjolene.
This is a photo of the first electric banjoline prototype manufactured by the Vega Company circa the mid-1950s. My father and the producers at Dot Records wanted a different sound for the albums he was producing. This instrument was used in the production of six of the thirteen albums he recorded for the Dot label. Again, there are six strings, an octave fourth, a monotone third, and single first and second, along with two magnetic pickups and a vibrato arm.
In the early 1960s the Vega Company gave the patent for the electric banjoline to my father and it was picked up by the Fender Electric Guitar Company. This is a photo of the prototype of the Fender manufactured electric banjolene which they produced until the company was sold to CBS. The patent was released and picked up by the Rickenbacker Electric Guitar Company.