FRETS.COM New Instrument Review
September 1, 1999

Bart recreates the world's most celebrated old time banjo
Bart Reiter's "Whyte Laydie"

© Frank Ford, 1999; Photos by FF

Around 1900, electricity was new and exciting stuff. At that time, the A. C. Fairbanks Banjo Company was manufacturing a fine banjo with a unique "scalloped" tonering, called the "Electric" model. The first upgrade from the Electric models was an all-blond maple banjo called the "Whyte Laydie." Fairbanks suffered a devastating fire around 1904, and was succeeded by the famous Vega Banjo Company, who continued production of the Whyte Laydie until the 1930s. Even now, more than a hundred years after its introduction, the Whyte Laydie remains the most recognizable and finest of the "old time" or "frailing" banjo styles.

Bart Reiter is one of the most prolific of the individual luthiers in the country, managing to keep Gryphon and other stores supplied with his fine recreations of the early Fairbanks and Vega banjo styles. His instruments are remarkable both in workmanship and price!

Please click on the small photos

Take a close look at the peghead photo. That bird face was described in the early Fairbanks and Vega literature as a "gryphon." It is, in fact, the original inspiration for the name of Gryphon Stringed Instruments! While you're looking at the close-ups, remember that Bart does all the hand engraving himself.

The banjo has all the snap and fire of original Whyte Laydies, along with the adjustable truss rod and playability of a new instrument.

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