Several Banjos by E.J. Cubley
Ravenswood, IL  1881-1891

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Cubley Fretless
This Cubley banjo has the wonderful characteristic large peghead, inlayed flush frets, and the typical marquetry star on the peghead and the bottom of the fingerboard.

It also has a characteristic very pretty cut at the 5th string peg.

The pot has Cubley's patented hardware, spherical brackets with slotted nuts that rotate within them, and the the usual Cubley tailpiece.

This particular example has a metal cladding on the bottom of the pot that extends half way up the inside.

Cubley seemed to have a passion for covering wooden surfaces with metal.

The dimensions are 10 1/8" skin diameter X 23" scale length.

There is no makers mark.

Cubley Fretless, back

Cubley Sterling
This Cubley has a neck that is very similar to the one above.  It has what I believe are original frets, however, and has friction pegs that are probably early replacements.

The peghead shape, 5th peg cut and marquetry inlays are basically the same as the first banjo.

This pot does not have the inner metal shell but is otherwise similar to the above.  It is missing it's original tailpiece.

This dowel stick is stamped "STERLING", a trade name of the Tonk Brothers of Chicago indicating that this instrument was probably built by Cubley for sale by them.

The dimensions are 10 1/4" skin
diameter X 23" scale length.

Cubley Sterling, back

Metal Cubley
This is possibly a later Cubley banjo since the patent for the metal pot came after the patent for the fasteners.  It has the same hardware on the pot, but the pot itself is made entirely of thin metal shells.  The dowel stick is metal clad as well.

The pegs are Cubley patented pegs and are adjustable with the same tool that was used to tighten the drum.

The peghead and marquetry inlays are substantially larger on this banjo, and the 5th peg is a different but typical Cubley design.

It appears to have its original metal frets.

The dimensions are 11" skin
diameter X 25 1/2" scale length.

Metal Cubley peghead

Metal Cubley pot

The tension hoop on these banjo is constructed by wrapping a thin ribbon of wood(?) with a thin sheath of metal
and then bending that into a hoop and fastening it.  There is a thin decorative strip of metal on the outside of
the two upper pots.

Here are some pictures of other Cubley banjos that have appeared on the web:


Cubley Fretless with metal pot
This Cubley banjo has the metal pot and dowel stick sheath like the one above as well as the Cubley pegs.

The peghead, however is very different.

This banjo has the patented Cubley hardware, the dowel stick sheath and the Cubley 5th peg shape, but it is otherwise quite different.

It was probably made by Cubley for another seller, similar to the Sterling above.

Note the star motif on this banjo and the one before it.

Cubley made for ?

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