What Makes a Whyte Laydie? By Donald ZEPP, ZEPP Country Music, Inc., Wendell, N.C., firstname.lastname@example.org
From Banjo@akamail.com Tue Nov 12 11:24:07 1996
Date: Fri, 4 Oct 1996 21:59:31 -0400
From: Donald ZEPP
Subject: Re: what makes a Whyte Laydie?
[someone had written, apparently erroneously]:
>Whyte and Ladie -two men who developed a scalloped brass tone
>ring to increase carring power and sustain before turn of the century.
>The tone ring was used in some Fairbanks banjoes not called Whyte-
>Ladie.(ie:higher grade Electrics). The name was successful so
>continued by Fairbanks and later Vega.
According to Jim Bollman, in his chapter "The Banjomakers of Boston,"
Webb, 1984, "Fairbanks obtained a patent for his so-called
`Electric' tone ring on 30 December 1890." This was after he "had
experimented with some early, bizarre tone ring designs during the
Fairbanks and Cole years. The `Electric' tone ring models that he
introduced in 1890 were among the most successful and popular in design of
all open-backed banjos ever produced" (Bollman et al., 1978). These latter
authors add: "The version [of the `Electric' tone ring] with the
scalloped top holding a round brass hoop proved most successful and was
later to be used on Whyte Laydie model banjos."
Bollman traces the development of the Whyte Laydie thusly:
"David L. Day, who began his long banjomaking career with Fairbanks & Cole
in 1883, filled the technical void left by A.C.'s departure [i.e., A.C.
Fairbanks, who had left the company still bearing his name to manufacture
bicycles. dbz] in the mid-1890s. Day soon designed an ingenious bracket
band which fit around the rim of the banjo and eliminated the need for
drilled holes through the rim to accommodate the shoe bolts. The first
banjos offered with this countersunk band were called the `Whyte-Laydie'
model. They were the first Fairbanks instruments to use unstained maple
wood for both rim and neck, hence their name."
In the caption for one of the figures in Webb's book, Bollman states: "The
Fairbanks `Whyte-Laydie' banjo (the hyphen was soon discarded) was the
outstanding banjo of the new century. Introduced in 1901, it was a
modification of the `Electric' model already 11 years in production,
differing primarily in the use of a countersunk band around the body which
allowed the shoes to be mounted without drilling through the wooden rim.
The banjo gained its name from the light maple used in the neck, the first
sold by the company without the dark stain so much favored during the
Bollman, J., D. Kimmel, and D. Unger. 1978. A History of Vega/Fairbanks
Banjos. Pickin'. June, 1978.
Webb, R.L. 1984. Ring the Banjar! The Banjo in America from Folklore to
Factory. The MIT Museum of the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. 101 p.