From about 1850 the Dobson brothers in America had as much to do with the keeping up of interest in the banjo as anyone. .. except perhaps SS Stewart. As performers, teachers and instrument makers their names became household words wherever the instrument was played.
George Clifton Dobson, the youngest of the brothers was born in Williamsburg, NY and around 1870 set up a studio in Washington Street Mass., where he was kept busy with influential pupils. He was the inventor of the “Victor” banjo with enjoyed a large sale in its day.
George retired in the early 1920 a rich man having invested in real estate and in an interview he gave to a music paper he spoke of how he and his brothers used to make their early banjos with “a saw, plane and a jack knife – all the tools they had or needed”. It was, he said, the demand for their roughly made banjos that decided them to go into business.
It is interesting to note that in 1879 he was using a banjo with 16 inlaid frets but by 1887 his banjo had 17 raised frets. George supplied historical data to Herbert J Ellis for the preface to one of the latter’s banjo tutors.
Pictures courtest of Intermountain Guitar & Banjo