Wm. Schmick
  tenor banjo
 Schmick, Wm. Camden, NJ Lyric (Fairbanks) 1914-1925

In memory of Walter Scott,
always in search for the Truths on Fairbanks Vega.

Many of us, that study the Fairbanks-Vega banjos, find many offshoots, that were in someways "in cahoots" with the folks there at the plant.
I know this to be a fact, as My Chas.S.Stromberg, as are all of the pre 1920 Strombergs, necked with the Vega necks at the time.
This was no accident.
Charles and Elmer both worked for Fairbanks, and branched  out onto their own ventures, and nmaintained a high level of friendship with David Day,and the rest of the vega Hierarchy.
They were not ever considered "competition" to Fairbanks Vega, or anyone else.
These relations were closer than one would think, many times.
The Boston banjo makers were a tight knit bunch, fiercely competitive, but in a good way, many times helping each other thru hard times.
So, it seems to be the case, with Wm Schmick
I would like to be able to give you facts on his history, but we are only allowed mere conjecture, as he is shrouded in mystery.
But with the Schmick, we do know a few things,that show up as well, in the banjos design.
Obviously Fairbanks necks,and based on a top tension design, with a deep resonator.
Simple in its construction,and well built.
To many of us, we are very very inclined to believe that this is the actual Father of the famous Vega Vox line of banjos.
Again, the design leans towards it,and it is very possible that with Schmick in tight with the factory boys, and with a rim design that he had designed on his own, then something could have gone down, that as so many things, cannot be backed up with records.

Any real facts other than the excerpts from other experts, that i am about to list, would be greatly appreciated.

It may well be a turning point in banjo history,and needs further research.


Marc Silber

Mike Holmes
Q: I was wondering if you might be able to provide me with any information on the Lyric Banjo. RB
A: Four different companies used Lyric. One was the Lyric brand name used circa 1914-1920 by
William O. Schmick for a line of banjos with very deep resonators; they were probably made for him by the Vega Company and might be the prototype for their own Vega Vox line of instruments.

Disassembly of my latest find

I have already sanded it down,and sealed those cracks.
Its an inherent issue,as my other, that Don Wiseman owns now, has them too.
I am hoping the other tenor an five strings are OK, but its no big deal.
If they get too dry, this will happen.

Neck has dowel, and two screws hold it thru resonator,as shown

Signed in 1926, by a ___ Harper. it appears.

3 ply rolled rim, maple, with outside head bearing
Heavy metal lower flange thats thru threaded.
Very simple and very effective.
No tension nuts needed.

Nice inlays, on Vega style peghead.
2 holes must be filled.
Guess it was on a wall somewhere.
Friction tuners, it will stay.

Look familiar?

Rim is about 11/2" deep

Tension hoop is heavy !
With the lower flange and hoop, and head bearing, it weighs out over 2 lbs.
Its got a 9" head

More Luthier graffiti

A true "Flange"

Held onto rim underside, with 3 screws

All Hardware polished
See how dirty head is?

First head sanding, with 320 grit.
Calfskin can be sanded easily, no different than using the ol "loofah" on the wifes scaly back!
Take the dead layer off,and most of the dirt too.
Ill sand it once more with 600, then burnish it with 1200

Looks so "spartan"
I love the simple designs.
Bolts glided into the flange, perfect alignment
 much cleaner and smoother as well.

Just a quick look, then back out

Man thats what i call simple.
Just like in cars, the later on ones had way more parts.

Put some real expensive jewels over the holes!

Will do the same on the backside soon.

Nice fresh bindings

All  lacquered up...lets Ride!


That hole in the top of the dowel, is where one of the tension bolts goes into it, for securing the rim into place.
You push down of the rim to make the bolt slide down into it.
On the front,a set screw comes in, pushing against it.
Its kinda neat, and works very well.

I bound the front of the board,and will add side dots..someday.

The Emerson Power Bridge, once again at work.
They are very good on skin heads

I do not call this restored, but well freshened up,and big issues dealt with.
I used no stain, and only clear lacquer, so that future refinishes will be a simple affair.
But I have it where I want it to be for now, and its a playable instrument again,and preserved for many more years, even at this level of restoration.
Thats 7 coats of new lacquer, to protect it.

Left to Right:
Tyler Jackson's, Mine, Don Wiseman's
And Tyler's Vox 3 in the foreground

 Sticker in resonator

Pics of my 5 string

Well, it came in, with many small issues, so I dealt with it, and put a little fancier paint on her, and she looks good to me.
I like the tone,and its a 10" head diameter as well.
Its definitely the fanciest Lyric I have had as of yet, but has inlays on the fingerboard that are non original, and very poorly done.
But headstock overlay is original,and bound, and looks real nice.
Inlays should be left to those who can do em!



Pics of Don Wiseman's Six String
Don got this banjitar, in very poor condition
I got it all sealed back up,and leveled the frets to match the twist in the neck, reset the rim assembly, to where it belonged, cleaned it up, new nut,Strings and bridge,and threw some lacquer at it, to seal the wood.
Not a full restoration, only making it playable,and playable it is.
Even on a fairly low action, it sounds OK.
Better than I thought, as far as tone goes.
I'll take some outside pics of them all together

Stains cleaned up almost all the way

Pretty cool aftermarket tailpiece, that works just fine

Same rim dia (10") as the 5 stringer
The 4 stringers are 9"
I have heard that they made a plectrum,and a banjolin as well, so if you see one, holler.

Outside pics

I had to put the case in there, as the 4 stringer is the only one that came with one, thats original.