C. 1910 A.A. Farland Concert Grand 5-String Banjo Used
A.A. Farland was a late 19th century banjo virtuoso, who was, according to A.A. Farland, The World’s Greatest Banjoist. Starting around 1895 he began using his fame as a player to try and become a banjo builder. Starting around 1890, banjo makers like S.S. Stewart and A.C. Fairbanks started experimenting with metal-clad shells and metal tone rings, a style of construction Farland dismissed as sounding “plinky planky.” To combat this affront to tone, as he saw it, Farland developed a wooden shell he dubbed the "A.A. Farland Beveled Top Wood Rim Banjo" and boasting it was “louder than a piano, sweeter than a harp.”
To be honest, this A.A. Farland Concert Grand doesn’t quite live up to the hyperbole, (Louder than a piano? Really?) but it is a fine sounding banjo with a pleasant, almost delicate tone. The maple neck has a nicely carved heel. The fingerboard is dyed boxwood. This instrument was made before steel strings were standard for banjos so the neck has no truss rod and is perhaps too light for metal strings. Consequently, we have it set up with nylon strings and recommend using them in the future.
Despite his claims to being a banjo maker, A.A. Farland had someone else make his instruments. This example was most likely built by Rettberg and Lange and it closely resembles their Orpheum banjos. This Concert Grand has come down to us in fine condition and is quite playable. Includes a padded gig bag.