Lane Banjos were made in the 1970's and 80's but were discontinued after about 40 were made. Unlike the guitar, mandolin, or fiddle - which need wood, a bending iron, a form and wood working skills - a banjo requires those elements plus a multitude of metal parts. All those parts have to be cast, machined, polished and plated, and it is difficult to find a foundry who will supply small quantities of castings. When the local foundry went out of business, so did the production of Lane Banjos.
Some time later, that incredible picker Raymond Fairchild bought one of the earlier models, liked the sound and contacted Lane Banjos about making a custom-engraved, gold-plated extravaganza to be named the "Whoa, Mule" banjo. After agreeing on a fair price, the banjo was constructed and delivered. Having found a source of quality bronze parts for the metal work, it was decided to again offer Lane Banjos on a limited scale. There are six standard models to select from. But if someone with unlimited funds wants something incredible - like the B, C or the J models - all one has to do is contact RH Lane Decorative Arts, negotiate a price, put down a healthy deposit and the elusive banjo will be duly made. Satisfaction Guaranteed!
Now page on and see the finest banjos ever offered.
The Lane banjos are made of the finest materials with the most exacting workmanship ever offered. The resonator fits so well that it will actually stay on without the bolts, though it's not recommended. All are made of bell bronze using the Gibson old top tension arrangement. Since the resonator flange is made of bronze you never will have to fear of any stripping. Available in walnut with flat head or arched top. Also available in satinwood for those that want a spectacular grain. And the sound--we are talking the pre-war sound here true believers!!!!
All to be nickel plated but engraving and gold plating is available but that would be an additional huge wallop.
Following the banjos are a mandolin, fiddles and a guitar--made to flesh out a complete bluegrass band. Not offered but shown as sample of elaborate inlaying in case someone wanted something incredible!!! Page on oh ye men of faith!
This is of all aluminum. Obviously very light and has a good punchy sound. Has an arched top but sounds like crap with a flathead. Once used by Don Reno. Available with abalone, mother-of-pearl, aluminum or bronze.
Actually a very complicated unified head design. Inlays repeat every three positions until the bottom. As they widen out they change character but are actually the same.
Nice bound headstock design with wheat straw of abalone and mother-of-pearl. As the inlay progresses down the neck and opens up things get really tight.
Named for good friend Bob Gaddis who liked this design. Lots of inlay and engraving.
Devil's Banjo made entirely of ebony to reflect home and hearth of Mephistopheles. Stylized devil motif with red eyes down fingerboard. Has a devil's head on the resonator and back of the headstock with red abalone eyes.
Tree of Life. Red clear abalone in this example. One of the finest headstock designs ever. Headstock and resonator inlaid with rubies. This one is engraved--that is not standard but an option.
One of the three fanciest banjos ever made. Fingerboard of solid yellow pearl with butterfly inlay in multiple pearl. Headboard also solid pearl with one front on butterfly in multiple abalone. Two side views in multiple abalone, with very complicated butterfly in back. This one beautifully engraved and gold plated. Will never be replicated.
The Hummer Banjo. Solid mother-of-pearl fingerboard inlaid with gold vine coming out of abalone foliage with assorted hummers in multiple abalone and pearl in action. Headstock also of solid pearl with no seams with three hummers, leaves and a butterfly. Makers name in gold. Back very fancy with hummer in action with flower and leaves. All feathers on wings and tails engraved. Special resonator flange with hummer profiles. All bindings in solid gold. Will be engraved and gold-plated this spring. Never to be replicated.
Probably the most complicated pearl cutting and inlay ever attempted. An oriental street scene with six women, four boys, two men, two girls and assorted dogs, ducks, chickens, a cat and a bird in a cage. All of the people made up of multiple pieces of abalone with the kimonos of the women being made of flowing abalone. The hair of all the women is fashioned of black pearl. As you look up the street from the bottom to the top one will see people going about their various and sundry activities. Behind the lady at top there is a gateway which leads to the headstock which shows a mandarin with two assistants in front of a pathway to the forbidden city. Fingerboard and headstock of solid pearl with no seams. Binding for fingerboard, headstock, heel and resonator in solid gold. Special resonator flange with oriental motif. Back inlaid with mountains, lake, boat, fishing village, bridge and assorted temples and pagodas with thirteen people in various activities. When engraved and gold-plated this spring, this will be the most decorated banjo ever made. Never to be replicated.
If a collector wants something truly incredible, and said collector has excess funds burning a hole in his/her pocket, feel free to contact John Giles, [email protected].
Mandolin, Fiddles and Guitar
The following instruments were made to flesh out an entire bluegrass band, and are shown to demonstrate the beautiful quality of satinwood. All are inlaid to a fare-the-well.
The mandolin has a solid pearl fingerboard with inlays of pink gold, yellow gold and green gold. All are highly engraved. Headstock of gold pearl and abalone. Name in platinum. Top, back and sides inlaid with green abalone. Back inlaid with engraved-mother-of pearl. Entire instrument except spruce top made of bee's wing satinwood and finished in varnish.
Fiddles are made with traditional spruce with top, backs and sides of matched satinwood. All the heads are on tapered dovetails and can be removed.
Traditional fiddle with inlaid fingerboard. Tops and back purfled with abalone.
The oriental fiddle has two heads: both of ivory. One of Hotei (the laughing one when one wants to play joyous music) and one of Jurojin for serious music. Inlaid in the back with three gentlemen in a discussion.
Fiddle with detachable ivory volute. Has nicely figured satinwood and less fancy inlay than the above and purfled with abalone.
The Devil's Fiddle with detachable head of ebony with red abalone eyes. Also devil inlaid in back. Purfling in pure gold. Satinwood for back and neck.
Guitar with fancy fingerboard inlaid on neck and in back. Bee's wing satin wood for backs and sides. Mahogany neck. Scheduled for more top and back inlay this year.
Shown together are four instruments that would superbly equip a bluegrass band.