Ca. 1968 Dopera Original Plectrum Banjo

I’ve told the story of Dopera Original banjos in the pages on my tenor and other plectrum, but this example appears to be unique. It is the only one that I have seen with a resonator made of wood; all the others have anodized aluminum resonators to match the other hardware. I doubt that the Dopyera brothers had the tools to build the resonator themselves; most likely, they bought one from a banjo builder and modified it to fit their unique rim design before applying finish. This is also the only Dopera banjo I’ve seen whose aluminum headstock veneer wasn’t anodized. Instead, it’s lacquered like the rest of the neck – and, as so many aluminum lap steel builders found out in the 1930s, the lacquer doesn’t adhere very well to bare aluminum. These quirks could be a sign that the Dopyeras were still working out their design ideas on the low-serial banjos, though they didn't make enough to really qualify as "high" serials. The tuners come from at least three different sets (albeit, very similar ones), evidence that these banjos were assembled from whatever parts were handy.

 

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